Simmering tensions in the Alabama Senate boiled over Thursday when a Republican lawmaker punched a Democratic colleague in the head before they were pulled apart.
Republican Sen. Charles Bishop claimed that Democratic Sen. Lowell Barron called him a "son of a (expletive)."
"I responded to his comment with my right hand," Bishop said. Alabama Public Television tape captured the punch.
Barron refused to comment and went into a closed-door meeting with other Democrats. Sen. Vivian Figures went into the meeting carrying first aid supplies, but she said he was not hurt.
Bishop said he regretted throwing the punch because "that's not the way grown men solve their problems," but added that he would not immediately apologize to Barron.
The fight came on the final day of the 2007 regular session of the Legislature. Republicans and a few Democrats have protested all session the Democratic majority's Senate rules, saying they were unfair. They want to bring up an election reform bill.
The Senate had just taken a recess Thursday afternoon when Bishop approached the chair where Barron was sitting. Moments later security officers and others rushed to separate the two senators. House said the incident makes the entire Legislature look bad.
"It's certainly a black eye on the Legislature and the Senate in particular," Republican Rep. Jay Love said.