Sources in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham indicate that both of the long-serving Senators are considering stepping aside, with Sessions being the most likely to announce his decision.
Sessions, first elected to the US Senate in 1996, has been one of the most outspoken and fervent conservatives in the upper chamber. He rose to the rank of Captain in the US Army and served as the US Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, then served as the Attorney General for the the state of Alabama before being elected to the Senate.
Sources also indicate—albeit with a “50/50” degree of confidence—that Sessions is on Mitt Romney’s short list as a running mate in the 2012 election.
Sessions’ strong conservative credentials and deep popularity in the southeastern US are seen as positive attributes as a running mate, and his military and law enforcement expertise are seen as providing balance to Romney’s private sector and business acumen.
Shelby was originally elected as a Democrat in 1986. He famously switched to the Republicans following the 1994 “Glorious Revolution,” when the GOP gained the majority in Congress midway through President Bill Clinton's first term. He was re-elected in 1998 and has faced no significant electoral opposition since.
Both US Senators have been strong conservative voices in the Senate.
In the 2010 elections, Republicans won a majority of both the Alabama Senate and the House of Representatives as well as the Governor’s office and all other state-wide offices of significance. Even many local seats switched hands and provided the Alabama GOP with the best “ground game” since the Reconstruction Era.
With Alabama safely in red hands for at least the foreseeable future, both of the highest profile statewide elected representatives see the 2012 through 2016 elections as opportunities for fresh faces to emerge.
Sources indicate that current Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and former GOP gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne are quietly assembling campaign apparatus for runs at either or both seats.