Establishment beats tea party in Alabama runoff
November 5th, 2013
11:14 PM ET
12 months ago

Establishment beats tea party in Alabama runoff

(CNN) – In Alabama, the establishment won.

Bradley 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.

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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.

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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."


Filed under: Alabama • House
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Data Driven

    If the weathervane's direction was a little unclear in a Purple state like Virginia, it was crystal clear in a Deep Red state like Alabama. True believers like Sharron Angle, Erick Erickson, and Mark Levin all supported Young. Not surprisingly, the astroturfed national "tea party" organizations demurred from such support. Complicated and interesting. As the national "tea party" groups morph more and more into just good old-fashioned Republicans, the fringe will find themselves spitting in the wind.

    I think the bank-rollers are nervous about that 22% GOP approval rating. Is their motto "No More Nuts"? We shall see.

    November 5, 2013 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  2. luke,az

    The tea party Taliban is done. They need to go back to school and get their GED's.

    November 5, 2013 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  3. Thomas

    Ohhh no, the GOP is taking there party back from the Uuupy Dooooopy poooopy tea poopoo's .

    Ted Cruzy whoozy is booo booo hoo hoo . Randy Pauly Wally is uho uho in the goo goo.

    GREEN EGGS AN HAM or EGG ON DeMINT's FACE ?

    November 6, 2013 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  4. Jack

    This in fighting is disastrous for the Republican Party!

    November 6, 2013 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  5. JHC

    I'd like to thank king & queen of the tea party – Cuban/Canadian Raphael Cruz and that nut from Alaska, Sarah Palin for helping!

    November 6, 2013 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  6. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Both should be defeated and a dem should be put in office in the hick state!!?

    November 6, 2013 04:33 am at 4:33 am |
  7. N Vinny Veritas

    Hopefully just the beginning. We have far too many real problems, as a country to continue to be derailed by the ill informed ravings of the Tea Party.

    November 6, 2013 05:18 am at 5:18 am |
  8. mack

    It is time that the Tea Party run their candidates on a Tea Party Ticket if they really believe that they represent the majority of the people.

    November 6, 2013 06:03 am at 6:03 am |
  9. Phil From Chardon

    Let me start out by saying I support the Tea Party, I also want more conservative candidates but if our candidate is not strong enough to win the Republican primary then they are not strong enough to beat the Democrat. I am tired of sending a message and losing the election. If we had gotten behind the Republican in Virginia the outcome would have been different. The same goes for the Libertarians if Ron Paul had thrown his support to Romney again the outcome might have been different. The Democrats think we are too stupid to see this and we must be since we keep doing it. There are too many low information voters for us to fragment our vote. We are going to continue down this liberal road unless we unite. A third party only serves to insure that the Democrats take the election, remember Ross Perot? Our foolishness gave us Carter, Clinton and now Obama. Wake up people, we must unite and get out and vote before we are totally overwhelmed by the folks with their hands out.

    November 6, 2013 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  10. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Wow. Looks like the Koch Brothers pulled their money away from Young while the Chamber of Commerce made the extremist wingnuts pay dearly for voting to destroy the full faith and credit of America. This is good for our country.

    November 6, 2013 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  11. Wire Palladin, S.F.

    For a primary battle, was the tea bagger ignored by the national RWNJs because he was too nutty, or not nutty enough?

    November 6, 2013 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  12. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    WHAT TEA PARTY

    Nancy Pelosi TOLD us it was just Astro-Turf
    nothing to see here... move along....

    OCCU-POOPERS they are the REAL americans

    November 6, 2013 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  13. Nick

    Hopefully this will be the beginning of the end of the Tea Party, a short lived divisive, disastrous political experiment.

    November 6, 2013 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  14. tanker

    Does this mean that the light has finally come on at the RNC Headquarters?

    November 6, 2013 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  15. Alpha Deus

    Now lets see the republicans back away from comments they said when they were courting the far right all this time...when it comes to elections they will be two faced hypocrites or worse..you cant trust people who sway with the wind..

    November 6, 2013 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  16. Orlando Voter

    The Tea Partyis the only party that can protect us from the evil tyrannical corporate bnker establishment that turns most of you into puppet zombie slaves.

    November 6, 2013 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  17. Searcher

    The TEA PARTY guy LOST in Alabama? I may think BETTER of Alabama now....

    November 6, 2013 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  18. Dave - Phx

    And thus begins the end for the tea party.

    November 6, 2013 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  19. Rick McDaniel

    It has become impossible to stop the destruction of the Dem socialists, in America. America continues to spiral downward, into decline.

    November 6, 2013 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  20. Gurgyl

    GOP, teatrolls gone to dogs, pretty much true.
    PS: shhh, now they cry on Bush, Reagan too.

    November 6, 2013 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  21. cbp

    May we hope that this is an indication that other areas of the country will see a resurgence in their support for more main stream Republicans so that we can have a government for and by the people with a willingness to work together and to find ways to cooperate and compromise so that it is a win-win situation for all.

    November 6, 2013 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  22. ImvotingforHillary

    Good Riddance tea party

    November 6, 2013 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  23. J

    If the Tea Party cannot win in Alabama, I think they are toast.

    November 6, 2013 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  24. Dave Harris

    The extremist Republican crazies aren't going to give up this easily. They're determined to destroy the country they hate, and themselves with it. At least we won't have to feed them anymore.

    November 6, 2013 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  25. TM

    Voters in Alabama rejected a Teabagging Birther? There is hope for what's left of the GOP.

    November 6, 2013 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
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