After emerging from a field of nine Republicans and engaging in a contentious primary runoff with a Tea Party challenger, Bradley Byrne sailed to an easy victory against his Democratic opponent Dec. 17 to become the newest member of the United States Congress.
Despite a fluctuating turnout throughout the campaign that never exceeded 17 percent, Byrne was able to push his supporters to the polls when it mattered the most and in the end, beat general election challenger Burton LeFlore by more than twice as many votes, preliminarily 36,040 – 14,962.
Gabriel Tynes / Lagniappe
“To the voters who’ve come out over and over and over again in this special election and other special elections thank you for coming out to vote,” Byrne told supporters at a victory party at Moe’s Bar B Cue in downtown Mobile Tuesday night. “You’ve showed your patriotism as citizens, you’ve showed how much you care about the issues and we have heard what you are telling us. You want a change in Washington and we are going to bring that change for you.”
Byrne, an Eastern Shore attorney who has served in various capacities in state government before he was defeated by Robert Bentley in a 2010 bid for governor, becomes just the fourth congressman for southwest Alabama since Jack Edward’s election in 1965. The position was vacated in May, when Jo Bonner hastily resigned to accept a high-paying lobbying position with the University of Alabama Systems. Byrne, 58, will be sworn in Jan. 7 and earn $174,000 annually as a freshman congressman. He has vowed to maintain his permanent residence in the district.
Byrne’s victory didn’t come without a price. According to finance reports filed late last month, his campaign spent some $978,000 on the race, even in its final days, when he was running against a challenger who never raised more than $7,000 in contributions. Meanwhile, since the new congressman will be completing the term abandoned by his predecessor, he may face a re-election challenge before next November.
Byrne thanked his campaign staff and family for the victory, before reiterating many of the issues he vowed to tackle during his campaign.
“Y’all have told us loudly and clearly you want a real conservative reformer in Washington who is there to get real results and I’ve heard you,” he said. “You’ve said you want someone who’s willing to fight for conservative principles and fight hard against the Washington establishment who’s holding our country back.”
He spoke of “forging partnerships” domestically and around the world in an effort to bring more economic development to south Alabama and delivered a special Christmas message to his supporters.
“Tonight let’s all enjoy ourselves and celebrate this victory, but let’s remember what time of year it is and why we believe this time of year is so important. Let’s hug on one another, let’s remember who we are with one another and let’s wake up tomorrow and get back to work.”
Updated Dec. 18 to include preliminary vote totals.