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Belk to run for state Senate
as a Republican; Day opts out

By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
The state Republican Party Wednesday got a couple of surprises at either end of state Senate District 22 in the opening stages of the campaign to pick a nominee in a special election to replace the late state Sen. Pat Lindsey.

Thomasville Mayor Sheldon Day will not run for the post while former Mobile County School Board member Judy McCain Belk of Citronelle will
seek the office. It will be Belk's
first try for office as a
Republican.

Lindsey died recently when he
suffered a heart attack while
asleep at a west Alabama
hunting camp. His demise on
the brink of the state's regular
Legislative session created
even more turmoil for the
already bitterly divided body,
narrowing the Democrats' ruling
coalition to perhaps just a single vote over a GOP-led minority.

Lindsey, 72, a Butler attorney, was a Senate mainstay, holding the District 22 seat for seven terms.

State Rep. Marc Keahey, 28, of Grove Hill, is the frontrunner to claim the Democratic nomination. He is the sole Democrat to announce
his candidacy thus far.

Keahey, an Attorney and
part-time Assistant District
Attorney, was elected to the
House of Representatives in
2006. He serves as Chairman
of the Contract Review
Committee. He is also a
member of the House Judiciary
Committee and the Agriculture
and Forestry Committees.

Lori and Patrick Lindsey, the late Lindsey's children, have
endorsed Keahey’s campaign for Senate.

“I can think of no better person to pick up where my father left off,” said Lori. “I see the same passion for public service in Marc that I saw in my father all my life.”

“Lori and I have endorsed Marc because we know that he will be a great Senator for the people of Southwest Alabama,” said Patrick. “I know that my father would be proud to have Marc follow in his steps.”

“I am humbled by the endorsement of Lori and Patrick,” said Keahey. “Without their encouragement and
endorsement I would not be in this race.”

Keahey and his wife Lara live in Grove Hill with their two children, Marc II and Scarlette.

Belk, a former Democrat who has converted to the GOP,
joins Brewton businessman Danny Joyner and lawyer
Greg Albritton of Evergreen in the Republican primary.

Candidates have until Feb. 17 to qualify for the election.
Party primaries are set for April 14. The general election will be held June 2. Whomever wins will serve out the remainder of Lindsey's term, concluding in November 2010.

The southwest Alabama district encompasses all of Escambia and Washington counties and parts of Baldwin, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Mobile and Monroe counties.

Belk, a businesswoman and former president of Mobile County school board, owns Belk Development Company, and is currently involved in developing assisted living facilities in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. Her background in public service includes serving on the executive committee for the 2006 Alabama Judicial Campaign Oversight Committee, as former director of the National Federation of Urban-Suburban School Districts and as president of the Mobile County School Board from 1983-87, among other positions. She is currently chairman of the Alabama Restaurant Association board of directors.

Belk said she finally decided that her political philosophy was not compatible with today's Democratic Party.

“As a pro-life, pro-business, pro-arms independent thinker who has reached out to the Democratic Party for many years, I decided to change my party affiliation," said Belk. "My focus has always been, and will always be, improving our communities, state and country above partisan politics.”

While Belk's Republican bid for the seat was something of a double surprise, Day's decision to remain on the sidelines was a surprise to many.

"This has been a very hard decision for me," he said. "As Mayor of Thomasville, I have dedicated myself to bettering our area with new jobs and investments in a safe – family friendly community. While I believe that the State Senate would allow me to take my mission to the next level, this is not the right time."

Day said ongoing projects in Thomasville and his father's ill health were compelling reasons to keep his focus local.
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