State Senator Trip Pittman, citing his belief in term limits, says he won’t run for another term in the Legislature. But he is eyeing Jeff Sessions’ United States Senate seat.
Pittman, R-Daphne, has served Baldwin County since 2007 when he was elected to succeed Bradley Byrne. Now a congressman, Byrne had resigned the state Senate seat to become chancellor of the troubled two-year college system. Pittman is now serving his third term.
Pittman told Lagniappe he has filed legislation every year to enact term limits in Montgomery. “I believe the only way to lead is by example. If I’m going to talk about it, it would be hypocritical not to do it,” he said.
“I believe more than ever in term limits. I believe that it’s healthy for a republic, for a representative democracy, to get people in and encourage people in office to actually get things done. And then it actually liberates them, and frees them up to make some of the tougher choices they need to make sometimes, too, if they’re not running for re-election.”
Pittman said he originally did not intend to seek another office immediately, but he’s already let Governor Robert Bentley know he’s interested in being appointed to replace Sessions, who is President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for attorney general of the U.S. If he does not receive the appointment, Pittman said, he will probably run for the seat at the next election, depending on who is appointed.
Sessions’ term runs through 2020. Whoever gets the appointment faces two more elections in a short period. Pittman says there is debate in state political circles about whether a special election would be needed within several months of an appointment or whether it could be delayed until the 2018 election cycle.
He favors delaying until 2018 if possible because a special election would cost between $3 million and $4 million. Pittman said a bill is being introduced in the next session that would allow special elections to be put off until the next cycle, but it’s unclear now if it would affect the timing of an election to fill Sessions’ seat.
If he does end up in the U.S. Senate, Pittman said he would still abide by a self-imposed three-term limit and would work to pass such a limit in the federal body. However, he might propose that someone leaving the U.S. Senate and then returning at a later date be allowed to retain his or her seniority.