Mitchem to step down as Alabama Senate's leader

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The president pro tem of the Alabama Senate, Democrat Hinton Mitchem, says he will resign so that Democratic Sen. Rodger Smitherman can be elected to the post.

Mitchem says he will step down during the Senate's meeting Thursday afternoon.

He says Smitherman has assured him that he has the 17 votes necessary to be elected president pro tem.

The president pro tem is the top spot that a senator can hold.

Democrats in the Senate promised Smitherman in 2007 that they would elect him president pro tem in 2009 if he sided with his own party in organizing the Senate rather than siding with the Republican minority.

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