A little more than three weeks before a Republican runoff election that will likely determine the next congressional representative for Alabama’s District 1, former Congressman Jo Bonner publicly declared his support for Bradley Byrne Oct. 18. Bonner and former District 1 Congressman Jack Edwards, who held the seat for 20 years beginning in 1965, will host a fundraiser for the candidate Oct. 22.
“I’m happy to tell anybody how excited I am Bradley is running. He has a tremendous amount of experience,” Bonner told Lagniappe.
Bonner said he was deliberate in waiting until the runoff in choosing to endorse someone and in supporting Byrne, would not speak negatively about his opponent, Dean Young.
“[Byrne] is a man of character with many positive attributes and a proven track record. When Gov. Riley asked him to be (two-year college) chancellor, that situation was worse than many people realized and he worked tirelessly to clean it up in a way that made us all proud,” Bonner said. “He has also worked to bring jobs to South Alabama and I believe he has the ability to work with federal government, state government and local government to bring more private investment and job opportunities to the area. He and his wife Rebecca are servant leaders who have given so much of themselves to the community and not just for public relations, but because it was right.”
Bonner noted the political atmosphere in Washington and said Byrne is a team player.
“Our country is facing real challenges and it is important to have somebody who will work with our delegation to give Alabama a strong voice,” he said. “Because of his prior experience, he won’t be a true freshman. He’s a man of action and I can’t think of anyone who will be a better representative for the state of Alabama. I’ve given him a check and will be hosting a fundraiser. My wife and daughter who just turned 18, we are all in.”
Bonner’s endorsement of Byrne comes on the heels of endorsements by the National Rifle Association and State Rep. Chad Fincher, who lost his own bid for the seat in the primary election last month. It also caps a week of increasingly hostile rhetoric between the two republican candidates, including a press release earlier today by Byrne campaign manager Alex Schriver calling Young a “failed career politician,” a “political moneyman with ties to corruption” and a “self-dealing political consultant.”
The press release, which was a response to statements Young allegedly made Wednesday during a forum on the Eastern Shore, cites Young’s unsuccessful campaigns for secretary of state in 2002, lieutenant governor in 2010 and for congress last year. Schriver also drew lines between Young and former Orange Beach mayor Steve Russo, who was convicted on felony corruption charges in 2009 and removed from office.
“Young raised over a hundred thousand dollars for the reelection of [Russo], who then immediately appointed Young to public office. The mayor was soon indicted for and later convicted of concealing campaign contributions and taking bribes,” Schriver said in a statement.
Both candidates will meet again Monday night at the University of South Alabama’s Mitchell Center along with Democratic candidate Burton LeFlore. The runoff election is scheduled Nov. 5 and the general election will be Dec. 17.
Meanwhile, independent candidate James Hall continues to fight for ballot access. Secretary of State Jim Bennett disqualified Hall in September for failing to gather the requisite number of signatures on a petition, even though the special election was announced with an expedited timeline. Hall’s attorney David Schoen said today he expected to file an amended complaint in U.S. District Court asking for Hall’s suit to be consolidated with one filed by the Justice Department. Hall argued that the number of required signatures should be prorated because of the timeline.
“It is completely unfair for Alabama to require an independent or small party candidate to get the same high number of signatures in 56 days that one ordinarily would have 2 years to gather,” Schoen said in a statement. “It deprives the candidate the opportunity to run and it denies voters the opportunity to vote for an exceedingly attractive candidate like James Hall who want to run as an independent.”
Hall is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who describes himself as a constitutional conservative too disenfranchised with the two-party system to run as a Republican.
DOCUMENT: Hall complaint