A long-serving top Republican Senator — Richard Shelby of Alabama — has apparently indicated to allies that he does not intend to run for re-election in 2022, according to the Associated Press, although a spokesperson for the Senator insisted that he’d not yet made a decision on the issue. At present, Shelby is 86 years old, and he has served in Congress in some capacity for over four decades. He was first elected to his Senate seat all the way back in 1986, when he ran as a conservatively inclined Democrat, and in 1994, he switched his party affiliation to the GOP.
As the Associated Press put it, Shelby — who until Democrats’ recent takeover of the Senate was the chair of the Appropriations Committee — “in recent weeks told one close Alabama ally that he was not planning on running in 2022 for what would be his seventh term, according to the ally, who was not authorized to discuss the matter and spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.” This source added that “some in the state were still trying to get Shelby to change his mind out of concern about losing clout and worries that the senator might be replaced by a fringe candidate who would not be as effective,” according to the Associated Press.
Alabama leans heavily Republican, but it’s not a shut-out. When facing controversial Republican candidate Roy Moore, Democratic contender Doug Jones won election to a Senate seat for the state in 2017, although former football coach and Republican nominee Tommy Tuberville defeated Jones by a substantial margin in their 2020 match-up.
Even among Republicans alone, the race for Shelby’s seat — assuming that he retires, as reported — could be contentious. What if someone as incendiary as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) or Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) decides to run for the seat? Tuberville, Alabama’s other current Senator, has already behaved maniacally and disastrously — he supported baseless objections to the certification of some of Joe Biden’s electoral votes, and, among other issues, he seemed unaware that the three branches of government in the U.S. are the executive, legislative, and judiciary systems. Tuberville identified “all three branches of government” as “the House, the Senate, and the executive,” which is simply not correct.