Before the 2020 election and the events that unfolded afterward stole the national spotlight, a major concern within the ranks of the Republican Party was the number of GOP lawmakers who revealed that they are retiring or otherwise not seeking reelection.
That trend seems to be continuing as Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) announced that after serving 40 years in Congress, he will not seek reelection in 2022, which comes at a precarious time for Republicans given the current 50-50 split in the Senate, Breitbart reported.
In a recent statement, the well-respected Republican senator briefly touted his accomplishments, rightfully proud of his commitment to serving in Congress.
“I have been fortunate to serve in the U.S. Senate longer than any other Alabamian. During my time in the Senate, I have been given great opportunity, having chaired four committees,” Shelby wrote.
The 86-year-old made clear that he will work through the remainder of his term, but that he’s ready to hang up his hat by the time November 2022 comes.
“In these positions of leadership, I have strived to influence legislation that will have a lasting impact — creating the conditions for growth and opportunity. Although I plan to retire, I am not leaving today. I have two good years remaining to continue my work in Washington. I have the vision and the energy to give it my all,” Shelby added.
As Fox News noted, Shelby’s announcement doesn’t come at the best time for Republicans, as the party now faces the task of defending four open Senate seats in the 2022 election, which is especially crucial given the current makeup of the upper chamber.
Shelby joins at least three other GOP senators in his plans to not seek reelection, including Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Rob Portman (R-OH).
While some have claimed that more Republicans are considering bowing out of the new, Trump-centric version of the Republican Party, other political experts are instead saying that it’s simply a matter of old age and length of service.
“I think for a lot of them, it’s just time,” said veteran GOP strategist and former Republican National Committee communications director Doug Heye. He added that for many, it’s a situation of “been there and done that for a long, long, time. That’s just a reality of where they are and the system of who’s up every two years in the Senate.”
According to Alabama Local News, there are a number of potential contenders who will look to fill Shelby’s Alabama Senate seat, including ten that the media outlet assembled in an early list.
One possible nominee is Rep. Mo Brooks, who is rumored to have some interest in making the move to the upper chamber. Brooks, a Trump loyalist, was one of the members of Congress who delivered a bold speech to thousands of Trump supporters prior to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.