|Gerald O. Dial|
Alabama State Senator for District 13
(Cherokee and Cleburne and portions of Clay, Randolph, Chambers,
and Lee counties)
November 3, 2010 – November 7, 2018 (retiring)
|Preceded by||Kim Benefield|
|Succeeded by||Kim Benefield|
Alabama State Representative
for Clay County
|Born|| November 17, 1937|
Delta, Clay County
|Political party||Democrat-turned-Republican (2009)|
|Spouse(s)||Faye B. Dial|
|Children||Melainie and Jason Dial|
|Residence||Lineville, Clay County|
|Alma mater|| Lineville High School|
Livingston State University
|Occupation|| Real estate developer|
Former educator and coach
Gerald O. Dial (born November 17, 1937) is a real estate developer from Linevlle in Clay County, Alabama, who has served in his state legislature since 1974, except for one term from 2006 to 2010. He was a Democrat in the Alabama House of Representatives from 1974 to 1982 during the terms of Governors George Wallace and Fob James. He was elevated to the state Senate in 1983, in which he has since served excluding the one term in which he was defeated. In 2009, Dial switched affiliation to the Republican Party and regained the District 13 Senate seat the next year in 2010. The district encompasses a swath of mostly rural counties in eastern Alabama: Cherokee and Cleburne and portions of Clay, Randolph, Chambers, and Lee.
Born in the unincorporated rural community of Delta in Clay County, Dial received a Bachelor of Science degree from Livingston State University in Livingston in Sumter County, now known as the University of West Alabama. He also studied at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama, and the Auburn University in Auburn. Before his occupation as a developer, he was a teacher and coach at his alma mater, Lineville High School, from which he graduated in 1956. He formerly served on the Lineville City Council. Dial is a retired brigadier general in the Alabama National Guard and a trustee and president pro tempore for Troy University in Troy, Alabama.
Dial's District 13, with about 133,000 residents, has little manufacturing, and many residents work across the state line in Georgia. High school and college graduates from the district often move to metropolitan areas of the state to find jobs or even vacate the state entirely. After six terms, Dial lost his Senate seat in the 2006 Democratic primary to Kim S. Benefield, of Randolph County, who then defeated in the general election James Carl "Jim" Ingram, Jr. (1949-2017), a jeweler-turned-lawyer who was the first Republican elected to the Chambers County Commission, 16,009 to 15,652, a margin of 357 votes.
Mrs. Benefield served only one term and did not seek reelection in 2010. In his successful bid after a four-year hiatus for a seventh term in the Senate in 2010, Dial defeated the Democrat Greg Varner, 18,800 to 18,443, a margin of 357 votes, the identical plurality that Kim Benefield had won over Jim Ingram in 2006.
Dial had told media representatives that he expected a close Republican primary for his eighth and final term in the state Senate in 2014. He was nearly upset by the Tea Party movement-endorsed Timothy Shay "Tim" Sprayberry (born January 27, 1974), a relatively unknown private investigator in Heflin in Cleburne County who polled 7,003 votes (49 percent) to Dial's 7,419 (51 percent). Sprayberry, then the Cleburne County Republican chairman, said of his challenge to Dial: "I looked at all that is wrong with our government and I noticed that we expect our government to change the way it conducts business, but we fail to change the people who run our government. Thus, Democrats become RINOs (Republicans in name only) and continue doing business the way they always have." Despite Sprayberry's charge that Dial is a "RINO", the veteran lawmaker has voted with conservatives on many issues before the chamber, though he favored in 2015 an increase in the cigarette tax and in 2016 a state lottery.
In the general election on November 4, 2014, Dial polled 16,758 votes (54.2 percent) to defeat the Democrat Darrell Turner, also of Heflin, who received 10,424 (33.7 percent) and the Independent Bill Fuller of Lafayette, Alabama, a former Democratic state representative for Chambers and Lee counties, who finished third with 3,697 (12 percent).
Dial has been the Senate Majority Whip since he returned to the chamber in 2010. He is the chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services and the Local Legislation committees and a member of these other committees: (1) Finance and Taxation Education, (2) Rules, (3) Transportation and Energy, and (4) Veterans and Military Affairs.
In 2013, Senator Dial co-sponsored the measures to require drug testing for certain recipients of the public welfare in Alabama. He voted to establish medical requirements for abortuaries in his state. In 2014, he voted to forbid smoking in public places. In 2015, he voted to establish public charter schools in Alabama and to create a panel of trustees for the Alabama Community College System. He voted to require couples who marry to sign a marriage contract, rather than to obtain a marriage license. He did not vote on the proposed expansion of Medicaid in his state. In 2016, he voted for the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, pushed to passage in the House by Representative Mack Butler. The preservation law prohibit the removal of Confederate monuments from public property, a measure that passed the Senate, 22-9. He supported the bill to prohibit abortion providers in the state from locating their facilities near schools. He voted to permit concealed handguns to be carried in vehicles without a permit. He voted for the establishment of a state lottery, which passed the Senate 21-12. He supported issuance of the permit for Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham to establish its own police force. In 2017, he voted for the bill which prohibits employers in Alabama from inquiring about past criminal histories of job applicants. He did not vote on the matter of using nitrogen in carrying out death penalty executions.
Though he is leaving the state Senate after eight terms, Dial will still be on the June 5, 2018, Republican primary ballot as a candidate for state agriculture commissioner. He seeks to succeed Commissioner John McMillan; two others Republicans have announced for the primary campaign, Nicole Jones of Huntsville, and Rick Pate, the mayor of Lowndesboro in Lowndes County.
- Wayne Ruple (June 7, 2014). Republican Gerald Dial Narrowly Wins Alabama's District 13. New America Journal. Retrieved on November 5, 2017.
- Gerald Dial's Biography. Project Vote Smart. Retrieved on November 5, 2017.
- James C. "Jim" Ingram, Jr.. Forevermissed.com. Retrieved on November 5, 2017.
- Kim Benefield. Ballotpedia.org. Retrieved on November 4, 2017.
- Gerald Dial's Voting Records. Project Vote Smart. Retrieved on November 5, 2017.
- Gerald Dial. Ballotpedia.org. Retrieved on November 5, 2017.
- Mike Cason (October 19, 2017). Sen. Gerald Dial announces run for Alabama agriculture commissioner. AL.com. Retrieved on November 5, 2017.