As Bradley Byrne walked into the packed Wintzell’s Oyster House on Dauphin Street, one supporter said, “Oh! This is going to be good news.”
Byrne hadn’t made an announcement yet, but hundreds of his supporters at Wintzell’s on Nov. 5 didn’t have to be told … his face said it all.
“As of right now with 70 percent of the votes, according to our numbers, we are up by 7,000 votes,” Byrne said about the Alabama District 1 Republican runoff.
The mood stayed upbeat from that moment and it only escalated when Byrne announced shortly before 10 p.m. that he had won the runoff against Dean Young. The results, which are not yet official, are 52.5 percent of the votes for Byrne to Young’s 47.5 percent.
“This is a great moment. We’ve been working so hard and for so long,” Byrne said. “It’s been a rough couple of weeks here, but the voters came out in such big numbers today … far beyond what anyone predicted. It’s successful in the fact that voters in this district really care. They saw this election is very important in their lives and I’m deeply appreciative even if they voted for me or not.”
The weeks leading up to the runoff were difficult for Byrne. His brother Dale died on Oct. 24. Byrne said the victory was “bittersweet,” but his brother would be proud and happy. The weeks were also difficult because there were plenty of accusations and heated comments from the campaigns that created national attention about the race.
Even after the Nov. 5 victory, the two candidates appeared at odds.
Byrne said he would work together with anyone and looked forward to talking with Young supporters. However, during his concession speech, Young said he would not call nor vote for Byrne.
Byrne continued saying he would work to unify the party and to individually work with Young supporters.
The election night party did have a special guest — Jo Bonner.
Byrne said the former District 1 congressman hasn’t given him any advice on the office, but only helped him during the election.
Although Nov. 5 was a big win for Byrne, he was careful to remind supporters that he isn’t in Washington, D.C. yet.
“This is important, the election is not over. We still have one on Dec. 17. So keep your yard signs up. Put Christmas decorations around them if you have to.”
Byrne will face Democrat Burton LeFlore during the December election. During the televised Oct. 21 First Congressional District forum hosted by AARP, Mobile Chamber of Commerce and WPMI, Byrne and LeFlore talked during commercial breaks politely debating ideas about issues.
With that rapport already between the two candidates, Byrne said he is doubtful this election will be as contentious.
“Mr. LeFlore is a gentleman, and I used that word intentionally. We agree on some issues, but we disagree on other issues,” Byrne said. “I look forward to having a serious, issue-related debate with him and I think the voters will appreciate that.”