There are a couple of states where long-shot Democratic takeover opportunities could turn into full-blown Senate headaches for the GOP. But Alabama isn’t one of them.
Sen. Richard Shelby has represented Alabama in Washington, DC for 42 years, first in the House and since 1987 in the Senate, and as both a Democrat — for the first 16 years — and then as a Republican.
When he retires at the end of next year, he will be one of several senior GOP senators bowing out of Congress after a tumultuous decade that saw the rise of the Tea Party, the takeover of the Republican Party by Donald Trump, and continued souring of relations between Democratic and Republican legislators on Capitol Hill.
While the departures of the four other retirees — Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, North Carolina’s Richard Burr, Ohio’s Rob Portman, and Missouri’s Roy Blunt — have created competitive open seat races, or the conditions for competitive races to develop, Shelby’s exit leaves an opening in one of the most Republican states in the country.
That means the GOP primary will almost certainly determine the next senator from Alabama, and it is shaping up to be an early test of the future direction of the party.
Trump and Shelby have already found themselves on opposite sides in the primary, each backing a different credible candidate who exemplifies their view of what the Republican Party should be. The choices Alabama voters make could give us a sense of how much weight Trump’s endorsement carries…