Another day, another Republican member of Congress is looking to hang up his hat.
According to Breitbart, an anonymous ally of Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-AL) said that the longtime GOP Senator has expressed his desire to retire from his position by not running for reelection in the 2022 midterms, leaving open the possibility of a fierce intraparty fight to choose an establishment nominee or one aligned with former President Donald Trump.
Shelby, an unabashed establishment Republican, has served six terms in Congress — as a lawmaker and senator — and holds the title of the fourth most senior member of the upper chamber. Concerned colleagues warn that the 86-year-old’s potential departure would create a power vacuum given the current rift within the ranks of the GOP.
According to the Associated Press, Blair Taylor, a spokesperson for Shelby, attempted to tamp down on the rumors, saying that “there will likely be an announcement forthcoming in the next few weeks” concerning Shelby’s future in the Senate.
First elected to Congress in 1986 as a conservative Democrat, Shelby would eventually switch to the Republican party in 1994. For the past two years of his career, he’s held the coveted position of Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, which he’s used to benefit his home state in a number of ways.
His career comes with high praise from his colleagues and supporters, with political consultant David Mowery saying “I don’t know anybody who knows how to wield power as Shelby does.”
There are a number of Alabama Republicans eyeing the possibility of a vacant seat next year and as the report pointed out, Shelby has an impressive campaign war chest filled with roughly $10 million to toss at a candidate that he might prefer if he decides to pull the trigger on bowing out.
Republican leadership must tread lightly, however, as the 2022 battle for the Senate will more than likely result in one party having full control, as opposed to the 50-50 split with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking power as it stands now.