By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Former State Senator Bradley Byrne from Montrose cruised to a methodical victory in Alabama’s First Congressional district over former Roy Moore aide, Dean Young. The 52.5 to 47.5 margin of victory was clearly not as close as some pollsters had portrayed the race to be in the last week, likely due to undecideds breaking towards Byrne in the last weekend and the Byrne campaign doing a better job of getting its voters to go to the polls in the special election.
Byrne finished with 38,154 votes to 34,534 for Young according to unofficial numbers at press time.
The Young Campaign had attacked the conservative Byrne as not conservative enough and had attempted to portray Byrne as a Montgomery insider who used to be a Democrat in the 1990s. Young claimed that Byrne would federalize the protected Tenesaw delta and wasn’t anti-gay marriage enough for social conservatives in the first district. Some Young supporters even questioned Byrne’s Episcopal faith and attacked Byrne’s daughter’s employer. Young campaigned that he would be the most conservative congressman in D.C. and had vowed to oppose Speaker of the House John Boehner.
The Byrne campaign weathered the storm following its first place finish in the Republican Primary and then turned its guns on Young in the last two weeks. Byrne supporters challenged Young’s claims of financial and employment success and claimed that Young lived off of his role as a longtime Roy Moore fundraiser……an allegation that Young fiercely denied.
The ‘Mod Mobilian’ bitterly denounced Dean Young as, “Point blank – the worst candidate we have seen in our lifetimes in Alabama and even nationally – save only David Duke. These character problems include: Repeated lies or exaggerations – especially about his background (businesses and military service) Completely unnecessary belligerence towards people – i.e. “being a jerk” Willful ignorance on how the government functions And we do not say that lightly.
He will be a disaster for the reputation and business environment of Lower Alabama.”Both campaigns accused the other of lying.
Byrne received the coveted endorsements from the National Rifleman’s Association (NRA)and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Just about every professional and business group in the state including: the Alabama Retail Association, the Alabama Forestry Association, the Alabama Auto dealers, the Alabama Road builders rallied to the Byrne camp flooding Byrne’s coffers with ten times the funds that Young was able to raise while running non-coordinated efforts to get out the Byrne vote and emphasize Young’s negatives. Young meanwhile tried to get support from national tea party groups; but his results were decidedly mixed. Mark Levine, Eagle Forum, and Eric Erickson endorsed Young; but Glen Beck and most of the national Tea Party were decidedly neutral in the race between the two conservative Republicans.
Byrne also had active endorsements from former Congressman Jo Bonner (R) from Mobile and Jack Edwards as well as contributions from Alabama Congress members: Martha Roby, Mike Rogers, and Mo Brooks.
Young drew his support mostly from conservative Churches and local tea party groups.
Ultimately it was not enough and a slim majority of South Alabama Republicans preferred the much more mainstream Byrne over the more combative Young.
Senator Byrne said, “Our next Congressman must play a vital role in continuing South Alabama’s economic success. From Airbus to Austal, this is a magic moment for our area and my #1 focus in Washington will be promoting and creating jobs here in Alabama’s First District. I’m honored to receive the support of those who know business best, and pledge to work every day to make South Alabama a better place to run a business and promote job creation.”
Byrne will now have to reach out to Young’s voters in order to defeat Democrat Burton LeFlore in the Dec. 17 special general election to be Alabama’s newest Congressman. The winner won’t have anytime to celebrate because he will have to run again in his party’s primary next June to defend his newly won seat next November.