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Scherer writes: "When Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama came hat in hand to Capitol Hill last month to ask his state's senior Republican for help raising money, Sen. Richard C. Shelby had a blunt reply."

Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) stops to speak to reporters before votes on the Senate floor, on Capitol Hill, on Nov. 15, 2017. (photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) stops to speak to reporters before votes on the Senate floor, on Capitol Hill, on Nov. 15, 2017. (photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Alabama Senator Richard Shelby Denounces Roy Moore

By Michael Scherer, The Washington Post

11 December 17


hen Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama came hat in hand to Capitol Hill last month to ask his state’s senior Republican for help raising money, Sen. Richard C. Shelby had a blunt reply.

“I told him he could raise it himself, you know, like I did, you know, like everybody else,” said Shelby, who has about $10 million cash in his campaign account, with no prospects of a competitive reelection.

The striking rebuff was no surprise to those who know Shelby well. Since the surfacing of allegations of Moore’s sexual misconduct, Shelby has publicly bucked President Trump and the rest of Alabama’s statewide Republican leaders by vocally opposing Moore’s candidacy, which he warns could hurt the state he has spent his life transforming.

“He thrives on controversy, seems to me. And I think you can’t be a formidable, effective senator if you’re so controversial your colleagues avoid you,” Shelby told The Washington Post in an interview last week, after casting an absentee ballot for an unnamed Republican write-in candidate instead of Moore. “That’s the bottom line.”

Shelby took that same message to the national airwaves on Sunday, telling CNN’s “State of the Union” that the accusers against Moore, including a woman who says he touched her sexually when she was 14, “are believable.”

“I think Alabama deserves better,” Shelby said.

The two men have moved in similar circles for decades, working together at times. Both are strictly antiabortion, support conservative fiscal policies, tougher immigration rules and favor loosening rules on gun ownership along with increased military spending. Both men favor getting rid of the Senate rule that requires 60 votes for most legislation to pass.

When Moore sparked a legal crisis by displaying the Ten Commandments in a state courthouse, Shelby worked with Moore to introduce the Constitution Restoration Act, a bill that would have blocked the federal judiciary’s ability to prevent federal employees from acknowledging “God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.”

But Shelby says he had concerns about Moore long before the allegations of sexual misconduct. One concern was Moore’s willingness as a judge to disobey judicial orders with which he disagreed, a tactic that led state officials to twice remove Moore from the bench.

“At one time, I was a U.S. magistrate in my day, you know, a young guy, and I believe in the rule of law,” said Shelby. “I disagree with a lot of court decisions, and even a lot of statutory things I don’t like, but still it’s the law.”

Another concern of Shelby’s is the effect that Moore’s candidacy, and possible election, would have on the reputation of a state. Over 30 years, through earmarks and other legislative maneuvering, Shelby has directed hundreds of millions of dollars to Alabama to help re-create it as a forward-leaning, business-friendly destination for the high-tech manufacturing, biotechnology and aerospace industries.

“I think the image of anything matters,” Shelby said. “It’s not 1860. It’s not 1900. It’s not 1940. It’s not 1964 or 1965. It’s 2017. And Alabama in a lot of ways is on the cutting edge, on the cusp of a lot of good things.”

Friends and allies of Shelby describe the significant turmoil Moore has caused in the state’s political and business elite. Business leaders have expressed concern that the current campaign could hurt the branding of the state, which has been experiencing significant economic gains in recent years.

“We want to be attractive to the smartest people in the country,” said Fines “Fess” St. John, an attorney in Cullman, who sits on the board of the University of Alabama and has worked with Shelby. “I’m sure the senator is concerned that something that distracts from that narrative doesn’t help us.”

The fact that Shelby may not stand again for reelection may have also affected his willingness to go public with his concerns. Elected with 64 percent of the vote in 2016, Shelby, 83, is not set to face reelection until after the winner of Tuesday’s election faces voters again in 2020.

“I got five years to go,” he says of his own plans. “If I live and am blessed to live and am effective, that would be a good five years.”

Despite his vocal opposition, Shelby says he thinks Moore will probably be elected Tuesday, and he will work with him as best he can. “We would all hope if he came up here and became ensconced as a senator that he would work with us,” Shelby said.

But in the meantime, he will continue to speak his piece, making an argument at the core of his own professional legacy: The history of the South should not bind its future.

“We are the Deep South. We are part of the Confederacy. My great-grandfather was a captain in the Confederate army, but so was everybody else,” said Shelby. “It’s a part of who we are. Yet there is a future out there.”

“What caused the changes?” he continued. “People want a better life.” your social media marketing partner


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+4 # Larry 2017-12-11 11:08
Interesting that Shelby never denounces Moore as a disgusting serial child molester; he only acknowledges that Moore's (many) accusers are "believable." Shelby's real objection to Moore is his status as a world-class pariah (sanitized into the observation that "he thrives on controversy"), which might prevent him from being an effective legislator. And that would be a shame, because Shelby and Moore share so many goals like criminalizing abortion, destroying the wall of separation between church and state, and lavishing even more rights upon gun owners.

It seems we have a very long way to go.
+3 # VoxFox 2017-12-11 11:33
Aristotle was right: personal character is the most important feature in any candidate for public office. Anyone who denies this should be held in contempt, as should anyone who ignores this - like Trump.
The character is based on habits of truthfulness, good behavior to others, intelligence, sound judgment, etc.
Certainly NOT wealth, appearance, verbal skills (aka BS), aggression, lack of respect for others, etc.
+1 # MikeAF48 2017-12-11 12:03
Shelby when you talk out of the side of your mouth like most two faced senators your soooooooooooooo oooooooooo believable.
+2 # elizabethblock 2017-12-11 15:44
He's afraid that Moore will harm Alabama's reputation? Really?

"We'll try to stay serene and calm
When Alabama gets the bomb."
-- Tom Lehrer, "Who's Next?"

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