|Senior U.S. Senator from Alabama|
From: January 6, 1987 – present
|Successor||Incumbent (no successor)|
|Former U.S. Representative from Alabama's 7th Congressional District|
From: January 3, 1979 – January 3, 1987
|Successor||Claude Harris, Jr.|
Richard Craig Shelby (born May 6, 1934) is the senior United States Senator from Alabama. Originally elected to the Senate as a Democrat, Shelby switched to the Republican Party in 1994 when it gained the majority in Congress.
Shelby was born in Birmingham, Alabama to Alice L. Skinner and Ozie Houston Shelby. He attended the University of Alabama, graduating in 1957 and from its law school in 1963. After graduating, Shelby practiced law in Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama, from 1963 to 1978. He is a member of the American Bar Association and Alabama Bar Association, as well as the American Judicature Society, Alabama Law Institute, Delta Chi Fraternity, and Phi Alpha Delta legal fraternity.
Shelby began his legislative career as a member of the Alabama Senate in 1970, serving until 1978, when he was elected to the House of Representatives from the Tuscaloosa-based 7th District. He was reelected three times. In 1986, Shelby was elected to the United States Senate by a narrow margin. He was easily re-elected in 1992 even as Democrat Presidential nominee Bill Clinton lost Alabama's electoral votes. A conservative Democrat, Shelby voted to confirm Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court and voted for the 1991 Persian Gulf War after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Like most southern Democrats, Shelby was conservative on issues such as gun control, abortion and homosexual "rights". He was a strong critic of President Clinton's tax increases. On November 9, 1994, Shelby switched his party affiliation to Republican one day after the Republicans won control of both houses in the midterm elections, giving the Republicans a 53-47 majority in the Senate. He won his first full term as a Republican in 1998 by a large margin, and faced no significant opposition in 2004. Additionally, he easily won reelection in 2010.
Shelby currently serves as Ranking Member of the Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs Committee, and is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.