1986 United States Senate election in Alabama

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United States Senate election in Alabama, 1986

← 1980 November 3, 1986 1992 →
  Richard Shelby 97th Congress 1981.jpg JeremiahDentonSenate.jpg
Nominee Richard Shelby Jeremiah Denton
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 609,360 602,537
Percentage 50.3% 49.7%

Alabama Senate Election Results by County, 1986.svg
County results
Shelby:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%      80–90%
Denton:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%

U.S. Senator before election

Jeremiah Denton

Elected U.S. Senator

Richard Shelby

The 1986 United States Senate election in Alabama took place on November 3, 1986 alongside other elections to the United States Senate in other states as well as elections to the United States House of Representatives and various state and local elections. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Jeremiah Denton ran for a second term, but was defeated by Democratic candidate Richard Shelby.

Democratic primary[edit]

Shelby, a moderate-to-conservative Democrat avoided a runoff and won nomination in the Democratic Party primary.[1]



Democratic primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Richard Shelby 420,155 51.33%
Democratic Jim Allen, Jr. 284,206 34.72%
Democratic Ted McLaughlin 70,784 8.65%
Democratic Margaret Stewart 26,723 3.27%
Democratic Steve Arnold 16,722 2.04%
Total votes 818,590 100.00%

Republican primary[edit]

Incumbent Senator Jeremiah Denton, a retired Rear Admiral and decorated Vietnam War veteran who six years earlier became the first Republican elected to the Senate from Alabama since Reconstruction, won the primary with little opposition.[2]



Republican primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jeremiah Denton 29,805 88.55%
Republican Richard Vickers 3,854 11.45%
Total votes 33,659 100.00%

General election[edit]

Shelby won a very narrow victory over Denton (less than one percent).[3]



  • Shelby - 609,360 (50.28%)
  • Denton - 602,537 (49.72%)

See also[edit]