Longtime State Senator Henry “Hank” Sanders (D-Selma) qualified with the Alabama Democratic Party for the State Senate on Tuesday.

The 79-year-old former senator is qualifying for Senate District 23, the seat that he left in 2018.

In 2018, Sanders qualified for another term for the Senate only to drop out of the race on the last day of qualifying. His daughter Malika Sanders-Fortier ran in his place. She was elected and has represented the people of SD23 for the last four years. During that time, she has fought a battle with cancer. She has not qualified for re-election.

Sanders in a statement said that his daughter is not running again.

“When I served in the State Senate, expansion of Medicaid was a critical focus for me,” Sanders said. “While Senator Fortier was in the Senate, Medicaid expansion was a great focus for her. That is unfinished business. So are other critical issues. Therefore, I have decided to run again for Senate District 23. I have continued working on expansion of Medicaid while outside of public office these past three plus years. I will work on this and other critical issues from elected office if I am elected again.”

Sanders was born in poverty in Baldwin County, the second of 13 children. He graduated from Douglasville High School, Talladega College, and Harvard Law School and went on to found what was once one of the largest Black-owned law firms in the country. Sanders is still a practicing attorney.

Sanders served in the Alabama Senate from 1983 to 2018.

Before Republicans took control of the Senate in 2010, Sanders was one of the most powerful legislators in the Senate. He chaired the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee Education Committee from 1996 to 2010. He is the longest-serving chair of a legislative budget committee in Alabama history.

Following Sanders' qualifying, former Selma Mayor and former State Rep. Dario Melton (D) qualified to run for the SD23 seat, Robert Stewart, recently Congresswoman Terri Sewell's Blackbelt Outreach Coordinator, has also qualified for the seat setting up a three-way Democratic primary battle for SD23.

The major party primaries will be on May 24.

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