Thursday, January 03, 2008

Record R's in the state Senate?

An e-mailer questions a claim from a breaking news story on the Star's Web site. Phillip Rawls' AP story ("Alabama senator planning party switch announcement") begins:
MONTGOMERY — An anticipated party switch next week by Democratic state Sen. Jimmy Holley will give the Republican Party record numbers in the Senate, but won't change the Democrats' control of the Legislature.

It continues:
The Senate currently has 12 Republicans and 23 Democrats. Holley's switch would give the GOP its largest count in the Senate since the 1870s, but 13 votes aren't enough to pass initiatives by the Republican governor when they run into Democratic opposition.

Our e-mailer wonders if 13 Republicans in the 35-member body could possibly be a record number. It appears so ... at least since Reconstruction ended. Even that period is a matter of dispute, per the state Senate's Web site:
In 1872, while Alabama was still under federal military occupation, the state elections resulted in substantial majorities for the Democrats. A Democratic-controlled Legislature, thus assembled in the Capitol. Republicans charged that fraud and corruption had caused the Democratic victories, and they convened their own Legislature at the Federal Courthouse. After a month, President Grant intervened, and the Republican Lt. Governor Alexander McKinstry, was recognized over the Democrat Edward H. Moren. However, many Democrats retained their seats after investigations resulted in the convening of one Legislature. Mike L. Woods, who had been Secretary of the Senate in the Capitol (Democratic) group, defeated Matthew P. Blue, the Secretary of the Courthouse (Republican) Senate.