By Jennifer Kerns, Editor-in-Chief & Publisher | All-American News
Sen. Richard Shelby announced today he will not run for re-election in 2022 — setting off a contagion of speculation about whom will fill the coveted Southern U.S. Senate seat.
All-American News is in the great state of Alabama this week, reporting from the front lines.
Shelby himself has an “All-American” story that crosses party lines — he came into office as a Democrat, then converted to the Republican Party during the 1994 “Contract with America” after Republicans swept the house. Shelby felt that Republican proposals better helped Alabamians.
In his departure, one of his colleagues across the aisle, top Democrat Sen. Patrick Leary (D-VT) called Shelby “a true statesman.”
So, who could possibly fill the shoes of elder statesmen Shelby?
Rep. Mo Brooks admitted today in a statement that he is considering throwing his hat into the ring. Other contenders could include Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and Rep. Gary Palmer, who sat out of the race for the seat that former Auburn coach and now-Senator Tommy Tuberville ultimately won.
The political prognosis?
Alabama is a solidly red state, where Tuberville won handily over incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat, in November by 20 points. However, other candidates won’t be able to rely upon the pent-up political capital that a Southern college football coach automatically brings to a race.
Furthermore, the Alabama seat flipped from Republican (Jeff Sessions) to Democrat (Jones) back to Republican (Tuberville) in just four years — which DOES fit the bill as a swing seat.
And without the same-party President Trump to fly in on Air Force One to hold high-profile campaign rallies with crowds of 30,000 to energize the base, Alabama Republicans are going to have to get creative about how to get Alabamians engaged — so the race doesn’t go the way of the recent two Georgia Senate seats that went to hard-left Democrats.
One thing is for certain — Shelby was quite vocal in the race between Sen. Doug Jones and Roy Moore, and he will undoubtedly be vocal in the picking of his successor.