If the race for the U.S. House of Representatives 1st Congressional District looks familiar on the March 1 Republican primary ballot, it’s because the same two candidates faced each other in a runoff just a few years ago.
Incumbent Bradley Byrne is facing a challenge from Orange Beach businessman Dean Young in a rematch of a runoff for the congressional seat Jo Bonner vacated in 2013. Byrne said this campaign has been a positive experience and while he would not get into specifics, the incumbent is confident he’ll win again on March 1.
“We don’t release the results of our internal polls, but we do feel very confident going into the election,” Byrne said. “I’m confident we will have a victory, and not just a victory, but a big one on Election Day.”
Byrne — who has hosted a series of town hall meetings and speaking engagements in the runup to the Republican primary — said his constituents have become increasingly concerned about national security in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.
He said the nation should project strength in the world instead of weakness, and the people he has met on the campaign trail are looking for leaders who will do just that.
“We have China sending surface-to-air missiles to a disputed island in the South China sea, the North Korea nuclear capability threat and problems in the Middle East, where ISIS and Iran are major threats,” he said. “In Congress lately there’s been a push to make cuts to defense, but we need to reverse that trend. We need to make sure our Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps are the appropriate size so we can respond with the right amount of force when necessary.”
Byrne also said many of the people he met at town hall meetings, such as a recent one in Magnolia Springs, are veterans who have had trouble receiving adequate care at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals.
If re-elected, Byrne said he will push President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Ash Carter to release a plan to defeat ISIS.
“We still have no real plan to defeat ISIS,” Byrne continued. “The president and defense secretary were supposed to give us their plan to defeat ISIS, but they have not done so. We need Congress to insist they present us with a plan. Our men and women in uniform deserve to know how we are going to defeat ISIS.”
As the campaign for the primary nears its end, Byrne said he will be on the road in the district, talking to people at more town hall meetings.
“My message is pretty simple,” Byrne said. “I have a solid record which I am very proud of, and that’s what I have been running on. I’m not going to talk about my opponent. I know he wants to get into a back-and-forth, but I’m just going to talk about my record.”
Byrne’s record has been squarely on Young’s mind in the current campaign, and the challenger has produced a handful of ads attacking him for it. Young said the difference between this campaign and the previous race is that his opponent has a record for the public to see.
“The difference is Bradley has a record,” Young said. “Bradley voted for Obama’s illegal executive amnesty, the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Program and funding for Planned Parenthood in H.R. 83. Sen. Sessions and Sen. Shelby voted against H.R. 83. Bradley has the financial support of the establishment Republicans, including Jeb Bush’s PAC, Paul Ryan’s PAC and the most pro-amnesty group in Washington, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”
If elected, Young said his top priorities will be to seal the nation’s borders and enforce immigration laws, bar Syrian refugees from entering the country, fund the Interstate 10 bridge project and strengthen security at the state and national levels.
“I stand for closing the borders, ending the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Program and keeping our families safe,” Young said. “I am for getting the federal government out of the way of job creators so more jobs can be created, and for getting the new I-10 bridge built for our area.”
If he loses this time around, Young would not rule out running for another office in the future.
“Never say never,” he said.
FOR UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE,
1st CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT