Establishment Beats Tea Party in Alabama Runoff

Posted on: 10:18 pm, November 5, 2013, by

Bradley Byrne (Photo: al.com)

Bradley Byrne (Photo: al.com)

(CNN) – In Alabama, the establishment won.

Bradly Byrne, a former State senator, defeated businessman Dean Young in the GOP primary runoff for Alabama’s 1st district, CNN projects.

The race, which pitted the establishment Byrne against the more conservative Young, was seen as a precursor to more intraparty fights ahead in primary elections for the 2014 mid-terms and was the first time Republican voters could weigh in on which direction they want to take their party after the partial federal government shutdown in October.

The Alabama seat came open when Republican Rep. Jo Bonner resigned in August to take a position within the University of Alabama system.

Although Tuesday’s winner will just become the Republican nominee, not the next representative to Congress, the district has not elected a Democrat since 1965 and Byrne is almost certain to win the general election.

There was little love lost between the two candidates.

Young told local media that if he were to lose the runoff, he would not vote for Byrne in the general election. In response, Byrne told local media that Young is “not a Republican.”

Byrne, however, far outraised Young thanks to major help from the business wing of the party, including the Chamber of Commerce, and garnered endorsements from establishment figures, including several Republican House leaders.

In total, Byrne has raised nearly $700,000, with substantial donations from business community political action groups and individual business donors. Young, on the other hand, has raised $260,000, and has received donations from a political action committee run by former Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle, a darling of the tea party movement, as well as endorsements from conservative talk show hosts Mark Levin and Erick Erickson.

However, despite that support for smaller tea party personalities, Young has been largely ignored by the national tea party groups.

Tea Party Express, Club For Growth and FreedomWorks – three of the largest national tea party groups – are all sitting on the sidelines of this intra-party fight.

Despite both candidates being considered conservative by national political standards, the race seemed to hinge on who would be viewed as more conservative.

Earlier in the race, Byrne said he would only vote to raise the debt ceiling if it was part of a larger deal. Young, who touts himself as a more “conservative Republican,” vowed not to support an increase at all and said last weekend that he would not vote for Republican John Boehner to be re-elected as House speaker.

And despite the fact that Mobile, the district’s hub, is roughly 800 miles away from Washington, D.C., the negative impact of dysfunction in the nation’s capital could be felt on the shores of the Gulf Coast.

Because of the negative political impact of the 16-day government shutdown, which Americans mostly put at the feet of tea party-backed members of Congress, groups such as the Chamber of Commerce have said they will be more involved in primary fights next year. Their aim would be to elect candidates who don’t have such strident views and to help prevent tea party candidates from stopping their agenda of keeping the government open, pushing for comprehensive immigration reform and overhauling the tax code.

Even the Bill Armistead, chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, acknowledges that Byrne and Young, while both Republicans, are not cut from the same cloth.

“Bradley Byrne is the John Boehner-style candidate,” the GOP leader said in an interview with Reuters, “and Dean Young will tell you he is more like Ted Cruz.”

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