- The Washington Times - Monday, February 8, 2021

Six-term Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama said Monday he will not seek reelection in 2022, becoming the latest Republican lawmaker to announce plans to retire.

Mr. Shelby, a giant in Alabama politics, said he is “grateful” to have served the state for over 40 years in Congress, describing it as “the opportunity of a lifetime.

“Today I announce that I will not seek a seventh term in the United States Senate in 2022,” Mr. Shelby said. “For everything, there is a season.”

Mr. Shelby is the fourth GOP senator to announce they will not run in 2022. Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Rob Portman of Ohio also are forgoing reelection bids.

The 86-year-old’s retirement sets off a scramble to replace him in the GOP stronghold of Alabama where Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville recently ousted Democrat Doug Jones.

Given the state’s ruby-red reputation, Mr. Shelby’s successor is expected to be determined in the GOP primary race.

Rep. Mo Brooks, who claimed that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, indicated that he could enter the race.

“I am running for election in 2022, either for my House seat or for the Alabama Senate seat,” Mr. Brooks told CNN.

Others have speculated that former Sen. Jeff Sessions, former Rep. Bradley Byrne, and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall will consider entering the race. Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, and Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill have also been mentioned as possible contenders.

On the Democratic side, Mr. Jones also could try to make a comeback.

Mr. Shelby is the ranking member on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, of which he was chairman before the Democratic takeover of the Senate this year.

Over the course of his career, he also led the Senate committees on rules, banking and intelligence.

Mr. Shelby was first elected in 1986 as a conservative Democrat and switched parties in 1994 after clashing with then-President Bill Clinton and members of his party.

Mr. Shelby is the state’s longest-serving senator. 

Before his election to the Senate, he served in the U.S. House from 1979 to 1987 and eight years in the Alabama state Senate.

“I have done my best to address challenges and find ways to improve the day-to-day lives of all Americans,” Mr. Shelby said in a statement.

 “Although I plan to retire, I am not leaving today,” he said. “I have two good years remaining to continue my work in Washington. I have the vision and the energy to give it my all.”

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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