Richard Shelby was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986 as a Democrat with 50 percent of the vote, ousting incumbent Republican Sen. Jeremiah A. Denton Jr. He was re-elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992, winning 61 percent of the vote to defeat three candidates in the Democratic primary and 65 percent of the vote to defeat Republican Richard Sellers and Libertarian Jerome Shockley in the general election.
After the 1994 election, Shelby switched to the Republican Party. He won re-election in 1998, defeating Democratic challenger Clayton Suddith, 63-37 percent.
Before moving to the Senate, Shelby was elected to the U.S. House in 1978, with 94 percent of the vote, defeating Alabama Conservative candidate Fulton Gray and Republican Jim Scruggs. Shelby was re-elected to the U.S. House in 1980, with 73 percent of the vote, and in 1982 and 1984, winning 97 percent of the vote each time over Libertarian candidates. He had no Republican opposition either year.
Before he was elected to Congress, Shelby served in the Alabama Senate.