It’s been an interesting week for Republican Senate incumbents up for re-election this year. Primaries in Alabama and Arkansas provided the first pieces of evidence that the mere presence of GOP presidential candidate Donald J. Trump on the ballot isn’t hurting Senate incumbents. At the same time, the GOP leadership’s decision not to even entertain a nominee to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court has piqued the interest of at least one Democrat who is now running against a GOP incumbent who was thought to be a lock for re-election before the SCOTUS battle broke out.
Alabama hosted the more competitive Senate primary on Tuesday. Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby faced four primary challengers, the most credible of whom was businessman and Iraq war veteran Jonathan McConnell. Like several GOP incumbents over the last three cycles, Shelby’s vulnerability stemmed largely from the fact that he hasn’t had a competitive race since 1986 when he was first elected to the Senate as a Democrat (he switched parties after the 1994 election). That year, he won a
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