As the Senate confirmed Chuck Hagel Tuesday for Defense secretary after a contentious battle, one of four Republican senators who voted for him was facing an unusual backlash from Republican voters back in his home state of Alabama.
The party's 21-member steering committee voted Monday night to ask Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., to reconsider his position on Hagel.
Alabama Republican Party chairman, Bill Armistead, told Fox News that he and many of the steering committee membership had been getting a large amount of calls and emails from its members who were concerned over Hagel's nomination and disappointed that their Republican Senator was supporting him.
"Hagel doesn't share the values of Alabamians, and he is not the right man for defense especially given his record on the military and his positions on our ally Israel," Armistead told Fox News.
Shelby clearly ignored his state party's views by voting to confirm Hagel on Tuesday, keeping true to his belief that his old colleague was the right man to lead the Pentagon. Last week Shelby told The Birmingham News that he had a good working relationship with Hagel when they served together, and that "I don't like a lot of things he's said, but you've got to think who would come after him."
Shelby's office has not responded to questions for comment from Fox News.
Marissa Grayson, a lecturer in the political science department at Samford University in Birmingham, said that while opposition to Shelby's position on the Hagel nomination within Republican circles in the state had been strong, she feels it is unlikely to affect Shelby's standing with the voters come election time.
"Ultimately I don't think it will be much of a problem for Sen. Shelby as he brings a lot of money to the state -- he's one of the most successful senators for getting pork to the state because he's often a swing vote such as in preventing a filibuster," Grayson said.
Armistead said "we consider he voted against the will of Alabama voters on this issue," but it does not in itself indicate he would be hurt in his re-election. Armistead warned that if Shelby's voting pattern starts to align with President Obama then he might have a problem with Alabama voters.
Ben Evansky is a Fox News Channel field producer, and is a U.S. Youth Soccer qualified coach. Follow him on twitter: @ifutbol66.
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