MONTGOMERY, Ala. - One of the eight Republicans who sit on the Alabama Supreme Court recently decided he will step down at the end of his term.

Justice Harold See said July 31 that he will retire in Jan. 2009 from the Court, which features only one Democrat -- Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb.

See, 63, was first elected in 1996. Karl Rove, the controversial advisor to President Bush who left his post today, worked on See's campaign.

A report by The Associated Press says the likely result of See's retirement will be a crowded race.

"There will be a lot of focus on it," Alabama GOP Chairman Mike Hubbard said in the report. "It's important for the Republican Party and the pro-business community to see the right person is on that court."

Five vacancies on the Supreme Court last year resulted in a combined $13.4 million raised in campaign contributions, a national record. More than $8 million of it was spent in the race for Chief Justice.

In the AP report, William Stewart, a political scientist at the University of Alabama, said candidates for See's seat will be willing to spend. He said See has been "a reliable vote for business interests."

"We can expect big bucks to be spent," he said. "Trial lawyers and business interests will be investing heavily in their candidates."

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