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If Alabama Loses Space Command, It Is Because We Lost Shelby

Make no mistake about it, the decision as to where the heralded National Space Command Headquarters will be located is political. If you think otherwise, you are politically naïve.

Senator Richard Shelby is the reason and only reason that the federal military officials even considered moving Space Command from Colorado to Huntsville, Alabama in the first place, period. Folks, you are just beginning to see the impact Senator Shelby’s retirement meant to the State of Alabama.

Our freshman congressional members and even state and Huntsville leaders are continually referring to the results of a commission study that supposedly analyzed the qualifications and best locations for the Command Center and Huntsville was the best choice. Commissions and studies like that are created every day of the week by Washington’s most powerful senators to justify what they want to accomplish. Guess what, Shelby wanted the study to say that Huntsville was the place.

The bottom line is the only reason there was any consideration towards moving the facility from Colorado to Alabama was Richard Shelby, and the only reason that it might not be moving is because he is gone. I knew at the time of the announcement that Space Command Headquarters might move to Alabama, that if Shelby did not get it actually moved before he retired that it would probably never happen.

Our two new senators, Tommy Tuberville and Katie Britt, do not have the power to impact the final decision on Space Command’s location. Seniority is omnipotent in the U.S. Senate. Britt is 99th out of 100 and Tuberville is 93rd. They have a vote and that is it. Huntsville even has a freshman congressman in Dale Strong. He is less than irrelevant as a new face in the 435 member House. It will be 10 years before they know he is even there. Strong and Britt have been in the House and Senate less than six months. If truth be known, with us having this little clout in Washington, I doubt that Huntsville is even on the radar screen for the headquarters.

Huntsville should not feel so badly about the Biden Administration leaving Space Command in Colorado, it was crumbs compared to what Shelby loaded Huntsville up with in the last decade anyway. This Space Command deal is more for prestige than it is for jobs and dollars. Shelby brought most of the high tech and aerospace dollars in the country to Huntsville, which is what matters. Much more importantly, he moved most of Washington to Huntsville, including the FBI Headquarters. Folks, that is real power. It is unlikely that Alabama or any other state in the nation will ever see the power wielded by Richard Shelby in the nation’s history.

King Shelby was more powerful than the President, whether it be Trump or Biden. As Chairman of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Armed Services Appropriations, he called the shots when it came to the U.S. Military. When he spoke, the generals listened.

Unfortunately, when Britt and Tuberville speak, the military generals are cordial, but they could not care less what Britt and Tuberville say. In defense of Katie Britt and Tommy Tuberville, they are giving it their all as freshman senators.

The liberal writers in Alabama have castigated Tommy Tuberville for losing Space Command because of his position on abortion. He is no more the reason than Katie Britt or Dale Strong . All three are representatives of Alabama’s conservative Republican policy towards abortion.

The Biden administration is using this decision to win two political points. First of all, if you are a liberal Democratic president and Space Command is in a liberal Democratic state like Colorado, would you move it to one of the reddest Republican states in America? Secondly, Biden is promoting the notion that since conservative ruby red Alabama has enacted a very restrictive anti-abortion law that he is going to keep Space Command in Colorado. Most Democrats are for abortion on demand. He wins approval and points from both sides of the deal. By the way, he is running for reelection as a Democrat. That is Politics 101. Politics prevails, especially in an election year.

See you next week.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at


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