Alabama lawmakers duke it out

A Republican state senator who punched a Democratic lawmaker in the head expressed regret, saying "that's not the way grown men solve their problems," but he said he won't immediately apologize.

Republican Sen. Charles Bishop claimed that Democratic Sen. Lowell Barron called him a "son of a bitch" in the Senate chamber on Thursday.

"I responded to his comment with my right hand," Bishop said.

Alabama Public Television tape captured the punch.

"I was raised in the woods of Arkansas and people don't say that about your mom," Bishop said.

Barron denied saying that to Bishop. He said the Jasper senator used an expletive to him and he was trying to get away when he was hit by Bishop on the side of the head near an ear. He said he had not decided if he would file charges.

"I would like to finish today in a productive manner. I will evaluate the situation tomorrow on what I may do," Barron said Thursday.

After the punch, Barron went into a closed-door meeting with other Democrats. Sen. Vivian Figures went into the meeting carrying first aid supplies, but she said he was not hurt.

The fight came on the final day of the 2007 regular session of the Legislature. Republican senators were using delaying tactics to force Democratic leadership to bring up an election reform bill to ban transfers between political action committees.

Barron is chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, which sets the chamber's work agenda, and Republicans were angry that he had not put the election reform bill in a position to come up for debate.

The Senate had just taken a recess Thursday afternoon when Bishop approached the chair where Barron was sitting. Moments later security officers and others rushed to separate the two senators.

The Senate later considered censuring Bishop and expelling him from the chamber for the remainder of the day, but Bishop said that wasn't necessary and walked out of the Capitol, saying he was going home.

"I love every one of you. Most of all I love this chamber. I'm going home and you all have a good day," Bishop said.

Members of the Alabama House said the incident makes the entire Legislature look bad.

"It's certainly a black eye on the Legislature and the Senate in particular," Republican Rep. Jay Love said.


  1. Bill Jonke

    The whole thing is a disgrace and a flagrant sign of immaturity.

    However, leave it to a Republican to exhibit such behavior. A bully is as a bully does, and why not? With a bully at the top showing Bishop the way, would you expect anything different?

    Sad… really sad.

  2. Donnat

    with violence. And also by voter suppression. A sad commentary on our government, but especially on the rabid southern conservatives.

  3. Stoney13

    Republicans resurgent!!! And in Alabama, no less!!

    Oh well! I guess I should be thankful it wasn’t in North Carolina! I’ve seen some pretty spirited political discussions, and armed insurrections barely forestalled in this little town I live in!

    But at the end of the day we all shake hands, bury the hatchet, and go have a beer together! Sounds like what needs to happen here!

    A swat upside the head is nothing to divide a community over! It will all be healed by tomorrow if everybody lets it heal!

    Besides! If I’d supported Bush, I’ld want to swat somebody upside the head myself!

    Stoney Browning

  4. Boots

    “I was raised in the woods of Arkansas and people don’t say that about your mom,” Bishop said.

    Yeah, OK, in the woods of Arkansas, sex is a family affair. Ifn ya git ma drift?

  5. geyser

    Apparently the heat down south has come on rapidly and very intense. During a debate on a issue, two Alabama State Senators, didn’t see eye to eye. Words were exchanged between a Democratic and Republican Senators. The Republican Senator, Charles Bishop, punched the Democratic Senator, Lowell Barron in the left side of the neck. Sen. Bishop claims Sen. Barron called him a “Son of a Bitch” Bishop took the meaning literally saying in effect, Where I came from (Arkansas) we don’t call your Mother that. Senator Barron claims, he never said it. How come Senator Bishop addmitting being from Arkanas, is an Alabama State Senator?
    Maybe the Senators have hit upon a way to settle a debate. The Author of a Bill fights the other sides biggest opponent of the Bill. The winner gets his way. The loser must take Fighting Lessons either, Boxing or the new form that has become popular, Extreme Fighting.

    Taking One Day at a Time