Alabama's Richard Shelby Gets a Primary Challenge

Shelby has a massive war chest. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Alabama Sen. Richard C. Shelby may finally have some use for the $19 million in his campaign account .  

Filing just before the deadline, Iraq War veteran Jonathan McConnell announced on Friday that he would challenge the five-term Republican senator in a primary.  

"Washington is broken. But instead of leaders who are focused on solving the problem, our politicians are focused on profiting from the work we send them to do in Washington," McConnell said in a statement Friday.  

McConnell founded Meridian.us, a global maritime security company, which according to McConnell's campaign, "combats the Somali Piracy threat against merchant vessels." He reportedly started the company after the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama container ship in the Indian Ocean, which inspired the film "Captain Phillips."

According to the Alabama Republican Party, McConnell won't be Shelby's only primary opponent. Former state Sen. Shadrack McGill filed Friday and John Martin filed Thursday.

Shelby, who is 81, confirmed to CQ Roll Call earlier this year that he is running for re-election . He reiterated those intentions Friday.

"I am running for the United States Senate because I’m not done fighting for Alabama," Shelby told CQ Roll Call in a statement. "My unmatched record of proven, conservative leadership puts me in the best position to stand up for Alabamians against big government policies in Washington. I have always and will continue to put Alabamians first.”

Because the state is so red, whoever wins the March 1 primary will likely hold the seat. But given the resources at Shelby's disposal, unseating him will be a tall order.  


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