MONTGOMERY, Ala. — U.S. Sen. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the Senate’s fourth-most-senior member, announced Monday that he will not seek a seventh term in office in 2022.

A titan of Alabama politics, the 86-year-old politician has spent 42 years in Washington, serving first in the House and then the Senate. His stepping down will leave a power void for the region and will set off a free-for-all primary.


Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., shown in September 2020, has announced that he does not intend to run for reelection next year. Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Associated Press

“For everything, there is a season,” Shelby said. “I am grateful to the people of Alabama who have put their trust in me for more than forty years. I have been fortunate to serve in the U.S. Senate longer than any other Alabamian.”

Shelby was elected to the Senate in 1986 as a conservative Democrat during the party’s waning days of power in the Deep South, but he switched to the Republican Party in 1994.

He’s spent the past two years as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, before Democrats gained control of the chamber.

All along, he has used his influence to benefit the state’s interests, particularly ports and military manufacturers. He played a key role in bringing an FBI campus and the newly announced Space Command to Huntsville.

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