- Cullman, Alabama

State News

April 7, 2009

Senate Democrats back Little

Associated Press

MONTGOMERY — State Senate Democrats kept Sen. Zeb Little as their majority leader Tuesday after he apologized for alcohol use that led to his arrest for driving under the influence.

Little, D-Cullman, met in private with the Senate Democratic Caucus to discuss his arrest Friday in Jefferson County.

“He accepted full responsibility for his actions. He apologized to us individually and as a caucus,” Senate budget committee Chairman Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, said.

Bedford and Senate President Pro Tem Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, said there was no discussion of Little stepping down as Senate majority leader — a high-profile position that makes him a spokesman for Senate Democrats — and the caucus retains confidence in him.

Smitherman and Bedford said Little told the caucus that he struggled with alcohol and is getting help. They said the public apology he issued after his arrest and his desire for help were important to Senate Democrats continuing to support him.

Little was arrested by state troopers on Interstate 65 in Jefferson County about 5 p.m. Friday on charges of driving under the influence, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, violation of Alabama’s law against having an open liquor container in a car, and driving with an expired license.

Little declined to discuss his arrest with reporters Tuesday.

“We are just going forward,” he said.

But in an interview Monday with his hometown newspaper, The Cullman Times, Little said, “I have struggled with alcohol. I have had long periods of sobriety. I have stumbled.”

He said he accepts responsibility for his mistakes.

“I am prepared to accept whatever consequences there are,” he said.

All positions in the Alabama Legislature are up for election in 2010.

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