AP Sources: Senator Richard Shelby Will Not Seek Another Term

By Kim Chandler, Associated Press


U.S. Sen. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the Senate’s fourth most senior member, has told confidantes that he does not intend to run for reelection next year — prompting some Republicans to urge the powerful, establishment politician to reconsider, even as potential replacements prepare to run for his seat.

The senator 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.

The person said 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.

A titan of Alabama politics, the 86-year-old politician has spent 42 years in Washington, serving first in the House and the Senate. His stepping down would leave a power void for the region. It would also set off a free-for-all primary in a national party deeply divided between traditional Republicans like Shelby and those who model themselves on former President Donald Trump.

Shelby will announce his decision “in the next few weeks,” spokeswoman Blair Taylor said earlier this week.

Shelby was elected to the Senate in 1986 as a conservative Democrat during the party’s waning days of power in the Deep South, but he switched to the GOP in 1994. He’s spent the last two years as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, before Democrats gained control of the chamber. All along he has used his influence to benefit the state’s interests, particularly ports and military manufacturers. He played a key role in bringing an FBI campus and the newly announced Space Command to Huntsville.

“I don’t know anybody who knows how to wield power like Shelby does,” said David Mowery, an Alabama-based political consultant.

“I would say that is his greatest accomplishment, to get money allocated to the state for many different projects,” said Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead.

Alabama’s political circles have long braced for a Shelby retirement. Armistead said the senator told him during his 2016 bid for reelection that it was his last campaign, but Armistead added the caveat that,“Things change.” Several months ago, Shelby told a group of business leaders at a private meeting that he would retire rather than run again, according to a person in attendance who was not authorized to discuss the event and also spoke on condition of anonymity.


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