The last Democrat to win an Alabama Senate race later became a Republican -- and did not vote for Roy Moore

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesSen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)
  • The last time Alabama voted for a Democratic senator was in 1992.
  • That senator, Richard Shelby, became a Republican two years later.
  • Shelby is still a Republican senator for Alabama, and did not vote for Roy Moore, who lost the special election there on Tuesday night.

Before Doug Jones’ election victory on Tuesday night, the last Democratic senator elected in Alabama was Richard Shelby, in 1992. Shelby was initially a Democrat, and first elected to the Senate in 1986. But in 1994 – two years into his second term – Shelby switched parties.

“I have no intention of switching parties,” he had said two months before the swap. “I can be more effective inside the Democratic Party by moving them to the right.

Shelby’s jump came one day after Republicans won both houses of Congress in the 1994 midterm elections, keeping Shelby in the majority party. He was the first Senator to swap between the two parties in 30 years.

Seven years later, Shelby, who had regularly voted against President Bill Clinton on partisan issues, told CNN in 2001 that he had been “glad to leave” a party he no longer agreed with, and felt the decision took a burden off of his back.

“I just crossed the aisle and voted just like I’ve always been voting,” Shelby told CNN.

Shelby was a contentious voice in the Senate special election in Alabama.

Shelby did not vote for the controversial Republican candidate Roy Moore, instead opting for a write-in candidate. He urged Alabama voters to do the same.

Speaking with CNN, Shelby said “the state of Alabama deserves better.”

“I didn’t vote for Roy Moore,” Shelby said. “I wouldn’t vote for Roy Moore. I think the Republican Party can do better.”

Senator-elect Doug Jones’ campaign subsequently rolled out robocalls featuring Shelby’s comments days before the election.

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