By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, March 1, US Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) steamrolled a crowded list of GOP challengers to take the Alabama Republican Party nomination for US Senate. The Associated Press called the outcome at 9:30 p.m., but that had more to do with problems with the Secretary of State’s website than with any real suspense.
Sen. Shelby said in a statement, “I am honored that the people of Alabama have once again trusted me to be the Republican nominee for the United States Senate. Serving as your Senator is a privilege and responsibility that I do not take lightly, and I will continue to stand up against big government for all Alabamians and Americans. Tonight’s victory would not be possible without the countless volunteers and supporters who worked to help me advance our conservative message across the state. I am grateful for each and every vote I received today, and I look forward to continuing the conservative fight in the General Election.”
Senator Shelby addressed his many friends, supporters, family members and campaign workers at Shelby’s victory party in Tuscaloosa. Shelby said, “Thanks to everybody for being here tonight.” “This has been a good day and especially a good night.”
Shelby said that this was the first time that his wife could not be here because “She has some real health challenges.” She has been in the hospital now for 90 days. I just left her to come here.
Shelby said, I would like to thank Tom Young, my former chief of staff, he took a leave of absence from his own company. He has worked the last four months night and day on the campaign. I would also like to thank Stewart Hall. He also worked hard. Ann Caldwell has been with me since the beginning. She wrote my first schedule and hopefully will write my last, but not today. Katie Boyd Britt took a leave of absence from a law firm to work on the campaign. I would also like to thank Mary Margaret Carroll. So many young people knocked on doors. Fred Davis, my media guy put together some very good ads. I would also like to thank my pollsters: Jim McLaughlin with the McLaughlin group
Senator Shelby said, “Tonight is about the future. About what kind of America we want for our children.” This is just the first step in winning election, we still have to win in the fall though some say this is tantamount. “We are leading in every county in this state at this point. Thank you thank you.”
Most political insiders believed that Richard Shelby was unbeatable given the generally warm relationship that the Republican electorate has with it’s congressional delegation. The entire delegation handily won their primaries on Tuesday night. Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-Selma) did not even have any primary opposition and Alabama elected congressional incumbents have not lost a primary in the last several cycles. For a sitting Republican U.S. Senator from Alabama to lose his party primary, while certainly theoretically possible, has never happened in state history. No opponent even dared challenge Senator Jeff Sessions (R) two years ago when he sought his fourth term in the Senate.
Senator Shelby, age 81, had also amassed one of the largest campaign war chests of anybody in the country not running for President and he has amassed enormous good will by visiting every county in the state every year that he has been in the Senate since 1986. 1986 was also the last time a U.S. Senator from Alabama lost an election, when then Congressman Richard Shelby (then a Democrat from Tuscaloosa) narrowly defeated Senator Jeremiah Denton (R).
When former State Senator Shadrack McGill (R-Woodville) and political newcomers: Jonathan McConnell, John Martin, and Marcus Bowman challenged Shelby all of those resources were brought in to action. When McConnell began attacking Shelby over and over again, Shelby’s campaign unleashed a torrent of negativity on the 33 year old former Marine captain. There was even a website devoted to his corporation’s shady ties and flip-flops on the issue of amnesty.
McConnell was the only one able to raise and spend significant amounts of money so he finished ahead of the pack but the four combined for just 35 percent of the GOP vote. Alabama had the highest Republican turnout in a primary in state history and Shelby got 65 percent of that vote.
Next up for Shelby is the November general election where it appears that marijuana legalization activist, Ron Crumpton has defeated Charles Nana for the Democratic Party nomination 56.3 percent to 43.7 percent (as of press time). Crumpton had touted that he was more electable than Nana, who is an immigrant from Senegal. Crumpton also attacked Nana over Nana’s opposition to marijuana legalization.