When it comes to the Sunday shows, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) is not a regular guest. Before yesterday, the Alabama Republican hadn’t made any Sunday show appearances at any time in 2017. For that matter, if we add up all of Shelby’s appearances from 2014, 2015, and 2016, the grand total is zero.
And so, when he sat down with CNN’s Jake Tapper yesterday on “State of the Union,” it stood to reason the Alabama Republican had something to say. Asked whom he voted for, Shelby said he wrote in the name of a GOP official he wouldn’t identify, adding:
“…I couldn’t vote for Roy Moore. The state of Alabama deserves better. I think we have got a lot of great Republicans that could have won and carried the state beautifully and served in the Senate honorably.”
Asked about a possible expulsion vote if Moore prevails in tomorrow’s election, Shelby added, “Well, if he wins on Tuesday, the Senate, under the Powell case out of the Supreme Court, will have to seat him. And we will see what happens after that. But I want to reiterate again I didn’t vote for Roy Moore. I wouldn’t vote for Roy Moore. I think the Republican Party can do better.”
When Tapper noted Donald Trump’s intervention in the race in support of Moore, Shelby largely dodged the question before returning to his underlying point: “I do believe – and I’m going to say it again – the Republicans could do better.”
Subtle, it wasn’t.
Shelby may not be a household name across the country, but in Alabama, he’s one of the state’s biggest political voices. He served eight years in the state Senate, eight years in the U.S. House, and 30 years (and counting) in the U.S. Senate. In other words, Shelby carries with him some credibility in his home state.
And it’s against this backdrop that, two days before the election, Shelby went on national television with an unambiguous message: “I wouldn’t vote for Roy Moore.”
If Moore wins anyway – and as things stand, he has to be considered the favorite – that’s going to create a complicated dynamic after the swearing-in ceremony. That said, Shelby, who’s 83 and just easily won re-election, doesn’t seem to care.