Sunday, July 31, 2016

Race of the Day- Alabama U.S. Senate

99 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2012 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Safe Republican

When thinking about the mismatch of the U.S. Senate race in Alabama, I have to remind myself that Jeff Sessions, a Republican Senator I now find despicable, is not up this year. Instead, it is his senior colleague Richard Shelby, a more reasoned Republican, who is not believed to have much use for Donald Trump, but like almost all other Republican Senate candidates, has not found it possible to denounce him.

Shelby is 82 years old, but without much evidence of gray hair. He has been in Congress since before I was born, and this year marks 30 years since he was first elected to the Senate. Back then, he was a Democrat, and was twice elected to office under that party label. He only moved further to the right, after switching to the GOP in 1994, and Republicans have come to dominated Alabama politics in the years since. Plenty of ambitious Republicans were hoping that Shelby would retire this year, so they could have their shot at a Senate seat, but the Chairman of the Banking Committee decided to stick around.

With the Tea Party vs. Establishment battles that have been waging over the past couple of cycles in Republican primaries, some candidates jumped into the race, by trying to run to the right of the incumbent and calling for new conservative leadership. There was some talk that in a March primary, Shelby could at least be held under 50 percent and forced into a runoff. However, the Senator went about raising vast amounts of money and on primary day, easily paced a five candidate field, with just under two thirds of the vote. His nearest competitor, businessman Jonathan McConnell was clearly hoping for a better showing in his political debut.

Democrat elected officials, on the statewide level, are nil in Alabama these days, and the party is not attempting to challenge Shelby's reelection in any serious way. Their nomination went to Ron Crumpton, a marijuana legalization activist, who was defeated in a 2014 bid for the State Senate. Suffice to say, there will no Yellowhammer State Senator "straight outta Crumpton" next year, and one would have to consume an incredibly dangerous amount of cannabis to think the race might be in anyway close.

Shelby campaign link:

Senate races predicted thus far: 0 D, 1 R (1 Safe)
Overall predicted thus far: 36 D, 31 R


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