Bonner to resign, take post at UA system

Published 4:45 pm Thursday, May 23, 2013

U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, announced Thursday he will resign from office on Aug. 15 to take a newly created position at the University of Alabama System.

By Friday, at least one person had officially announced his candidacy for the seat, and more were rumored to be considering it.
State Rep. Randy Davis, R-Daphne, said he is running for the seat, while several other Republicans — including former gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne — and Democratic state Sen. Marc Keahey were reportedly considering it.

Bonner will become the vice chancellor of government relations and economic development for the system, which includes the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa as well as the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Alabama at Huntsville. Bonner’s sister, Judy Bonner, is president at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

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“At the outset, I trust you know that serving as your congressman this past decade has truly been one of the highest honors of my life,” Bonner said. “While, naturally, I consider my family – Janée, Lee and Robins — my greatest joy, the opportunity to work with and for the people I represent in the 1st District — during this time, building on the remarkable legacies of two statesmen, Congressmen Jack Edwards and Sonny Callahan, has indeed been the utmost privilege.”

Escambia County Commission Chairman David Stokes said that Bonner has had an “outstanding” relationship with the county.

“He has been receptive to any request that we have made of him,” Stokes said.

Bonner has served in office since 2003, and was just re-elected to a new two-year term last fall. Gov. Robert Bentley will have to announce a date for a special election to finish the term.

Alabama GOP Chairman Bill Armistead wished Bonner well and said he has served his constituents well — and pledged Republicans will have a strong candidate in the special election.

“We have a lot of great conservative Republican talent who I am sure will line up to run for this open seat,” Armistead said. “I am confident that the Republican Party and the voters in the First Congressional District will send another representative who will stand firm against the overreaches of President Obama and fight to advance conservative principles that will strengthen the economy and create jobs.”

Bonner touted his leadership during tough times.

“The opportunities you have provided my staff and me have been unparalleled as it relates to providing critical leadership — and key constituent services — to South Alabama during a time of two wars, the aftermath of hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, the worst environmental oil spill in U.S. history and a long, deep recession that affected every corner of the First District and every aspect of our economy,” he said.