INSIDE THE STATEHOUSE
By Steve Flowers
You know the results of Tuesday’s primaries for our U.S. Senate seat. I had to go to press before the vote. However, the assumption was that there would be a runoff in the Republican primary. It is safe to say that the winner of that runoff on September 26 will be elected as our next junior U.S. Senator. We are such a reliably Republican state that winning the GOP Primary will be tantamount to election in December.
It may surprise you for me to say that it really makes very little difference as to who ultimately wins this seat. Whichever Republican prevails will vote no differently than the other. Despite all the money spent, name calling, and campaigning, whoever the Republican primary victor is will vote conservatively right down the line. They will have the identical conservative voting record as Jeff Sessions. They all would vote right on the litmus test hot button GOP issues like abortion, immigration, balanced budget, pro military, pro gun and pro agriculture. Whoever wins will support President Donald Trump and the most conservative Supreme Court nominee available.
Therefore, your choice is Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum. Your only choice is which personality you like best. It is like whether you like right wing vanilla or right wing strawberry ice cream. Whichever Republican you choose out of this batch of ice cream you will still have an ice cream sandwich who will vote for the right wing conservative agenda.
Therefore, will one be able to be more efficient? Probably not. Seniority is what dictates power in the Washington Congressional pecking order and guess what – our new Junior U.S. Senator will rank 100th in Seniority in the 100 member U.S. Senate.
Their path to power is also limited by their age. If the ultimate victor is one of the projected frontrunners, they are getting to the Senate at too old of an age to be a player or make a difference. Roy Moore is 70, Luther Strange is 64, and Mo Brooks is 63. Whoever becomes the Senator will be finished before anybody in Washington knows who they are and none of them will ever chair a committee. Therefore, it really doesn’t matter which Republican ultimately wins.
However, do not be dismayed, we have a senior U.S. Senator who can pick up any slack. Folks, our senior Senator is Richard Shelby. We do not even need a second senator when we have Shelby.
Richard Shelby, because of his seniority and senatorial prowess and prestige is easily one of the three most powerful members of the United States Senate.
Senator Shelby is the Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee. Folks, what that means is that before any law, any budget, or any Supreme Court nominee gets to the floor of the U.S. Senate, Senator Shelby has to approve it. This makes him about as powerful as the President. I am not saying that Shelby trumps Trump in power. However, I am saying that there are about 95 Senators who need the President. There are about five Senators that Trump needs more than they need him. Shelby is one of them.
Most special interest groups and really anybody or any entity like the NRA who want anything done in Washington would rather have Richard Shelby on their side rather than Donald Trump.
Richard Shelby has reached a pinnacle of power never before seen in Alabama’s rich political lore of U.S. Senators.
We have had some great Senators. The names of John H. Bankhead, Lister Hill and John Sparkman are legendary. However, Richard Shelby has surpassed those giants in power and what he has done for Alabama.
Richard Shelby is in his 31st year of representing us in the U.S. Senate. He has chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate Banking Committee, and now the Senate Rules Committee. Within two years, he will break John Sparkman’s 32-year Senate tenure record. Shelby will probably make a lateral move to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee. If you think he has brought home the bacon the past three decades, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Do not fret about who our junior U.S. Senator is going to be. It really does not matter when you have Richard Shelby.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.