On Monday, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) announced he would not seek a seventh term representing Alabama in the U.S. Senate.
The announcement, coming on the heels of an Associated Press report teasing the announcement, was not a huge surprise to political watchers in Alabama but will make for a wide-open 2022 race for the open seat.
Before Democrats’ takeover of the U.S. Senate with the victories in the two Georgia Senate elections last month, Shelby held the coveted Senate Appropriations Committee chairmanship.
Statement as follows:
“Today I announce that I will not seek a seventh term in the United State Senate in 2022. For everything, there is a season.
“I am grateful to the people of Alabama who have put their trust in me for more than forty years. I have been fortunate to serve in the U.S. Senate longer than any other Alabamian. During my time in the Senate, I have been given great opportunity, having chaired four committees: Appropriations, Rules, Banking, and Intelligence. In these positions of leadership, I have strived to influence legislation that will have a lasting impact – creating the conditions for growth and opportunity.
“Serving in the U.S. Senate has been the opportunity of a lifetime. I have done my best to address challenges and find ways to improve the day-to-day lives of all Americans. I have also focused on the economic challenges of Alabamians, increasing access to education and promoting facilities to improve the quality of schools. I have worked to enhance Alabama’s role in space exploration and the security of our nation. Further, I have supported the utilization of Alabama’s greatest resources, including its unparalleled river system and the Port of Mobile.
“My service in the U.S. Senate would not have been possible without those who have encouraged me over the years. I am particularly grateful for the support of my wife, Annette, and my entire family. Additionally, my staff, whose determination and loyalty have been unwavering, has been absolutely necessary in achieving my goals.
“Although I plan to retire, I am not leaving today. I have two good years remaining to continue my work in Washington. I have the vision and the energy to give it my all.
“Thank you again for the honor you have given me – the honor to serve the people of Alabama in Congress for the last 42 years. I look forward to what is to come for our great state and our great nation.”
Shelby was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978. In 1986, Shelby defeated then-Sen. Jeremiah Denton (R-AL) on the Democrat ticket. In 1994 after the midterm elections, Shelby switched to the Republican.
Alabama’s senior U.S. Senator’s departure will leave an open seat, and the state will have its second consecutive competitive election cycle for a U.S. Senate seat.
Last November, former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville won the U.S. Senate seat that had long been held by Jeff Sessions, who left to be U.S. Attorney General.
In the interim, the seat was held by Luther Strange, who at the time was appointed by then-Gov. Robert Bentley, and Doug Jones, a Democrat who pulled off the upset of Republican nominee Roy Moore in December 2017.
Names speculated to be considering a run for the U.S. Senate vacancy in 2022 include Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and Business Council of Alabama head Katie Boyd Britt.
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