- Associated Press - Monday, October 27, 2014

SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (AP) - The moment still hangs on Shadrack McGill’s office wall, where it will stay at least a couple of more weeks. It’s the newspaper account of his, as the headline says, “Senate Shocker.”

The picture shows McGill hugging his wife Heather moments after being declared the winner. And, in that moment, as people gathered around the parking lot at Triple R BBQ in Scottsboro congratulating him, McGill’s life changed, ready or not.

On Nov. 2, 2010, for the first time in over 100 years, Republicans took a majority in the Alabama Legislature. It was, as it has been titled, a Republican sweep into office.

And, in the northeastern corner of the state, possibly the biggest win of the night took place. There are those who said, and will always say, Lowell Barron, in office for 28 years, lost the Senate 8 race on that night more than McGill won.

And McGill, even today, doesn’t argue that point. He never put a lot of stock in winning or losing, he says.

“I prayed about it and sought counsel for four weeks,” he remembers. “I felt like I was supposed to run.”

It was his political conviction that led him to run against, arguably, one of the most powerful politicians the state of Alabama has ever known.

“I realized the church and people of integrity has backed away from politics,” McGill said, “and how we are governed as people.”

He was prompted to write a letter to the editor to The Daily Sentinel, encouraging the church to get back involved and make local government its new mission field.

“There was no accountability,” McGill said. “It was time to hold elected officials accountable.”

And, with that, he was asked to run against Barron. And, so he did. Life changed quickly, said McGill, who claimed strippers visited his home at 1 a.m., he was offered money not to run, found himself in a lawsuit that still continues and a vehicle drove through his place of business.

McGill didn’t seek re-election to the Senate this year, and he later lost a runoff election for Jackson County revenue commissioner. He plans to return home and help raise his five children while considering some job offers.

Today, he looks back and can only laugh at his Montgomery experience.

“You take each thing in stride,” said McGill.

McGill said he had overwhelming support, along the way, during the campaign against Barron. Without it, he says, it would have been impossible.

Eight months later, after the election, he ran in to Barron at a local restaurant. They shook hands and chatted for five or 10 minutes, he remembers.

“(Barron) put a lot of effort in to his position,” said McGill. “It’s tough to be in that position so long. I pray for Lowell. I’ve felt sorry for him at times. I wish him the best.”

Shadrack McGill, the son of Dwight and Nita McGill, grew up a small town boy, like most of us, ripping and romping as a youngster with four brothers and a sister.

“We grew up in a farm-type atmosphere,” he said. “We were big in to dirt bikes and four-wheelers.”

In other words, as he says, the siblings terrorized the community ATV-style.

“We were very competitive, in to a lot of sports,” said McGill.

He looks back fondly on those times with his brothers outdoors. He remembers the camping and fishing trips with his father on the Paint Rock River.

And, of course, his mother, who made sure five kids were at all the practices and games and keeping five uniforms clean.

The future senator graduated from Paint Rock Valley High School in 1994 in a senior class of six.

Like any boy, 18 and fresh out of high school, he did college and work.

“I worked at Huntsville Hilton from junior year until after graduation,” said McGill.

From there, he worked various jobs, including construction, and also attended Northeast Alabama Community College.

It was around that time he met his wife, Heather, and the two were married in 1999.

He started his own business, rebuilding and selling hydraulics. The business grew to three locations. Two months before the election, McGill sold the business, on U.S. 72 in Woodville.

The first two years in office McGill learned and, sometimes, the hard way. He pushed conservative Christian causes, like limiting abortion and allowing home-schooled children to participate in public-school sports and extracurricular activities.

A prayer breakfast in Fort Payne gained national attention after McGill was quoted, as saying there was a biblical principle that if teachers were paid more money it would attract people who were not called to teach.

At the time, McGill said his comments were taken out of context. He apologized, adding that he hoped to see teachers get at least a cost-of-living raise.

Looking back, two years later, McGill says, as a Christian, you are always facing an enemy.

“There’s always opposition to whatever good you are trying to do,” he says. “You shake it off, learn from it and keep moving forward. You try to be wiser.”

After four years, McGill says he understands now the ins and outs of politics that he was once clueless to before.

He learned not to take everything so personally.

He also learned the political games, going as far as to call himself an independent on state-level politics.

“Maybe even on an island,” he laughs.


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