On the issues, very little separates what Bradley Byrne and Dean Young would like to accomplish should they be elected to succeed Jo Bonner representing south Alabama in Congress. Since the two Republican candidates were whittled from a larger field of nine and left to compete in a runoff election Nov. 5, both of their campaigns have sympathized with the minority strategy to defund Obamacare, shutting down the federal government down for 16 days earlier this month.
Neither would be entirely opposed to raising the country’s debt ceiling, but only if it was paired with significant reforms to entitlement programs like food stamps, Medicaid and housing assistance. In recent interviews with Lagniappe, each candidate shared similarly conservative perspectives on the size and scope of the federal government and believed Alabama and District 1 would be best served by a congressman who will prioritize reining in Washington’s fiscal issues.
But even before Bonner announced his resignation, Byrne and Young were known to have two very different leadership styles and in lieu of actual policy differences, both sides seem to have targeted each other’s personal and professional backgrounds since the primary. Notably Byrne, who led the primary field with 34.6 percent of the vote and has out-raised Young financially by a wide margin, took to the airwaves with a commercials calling Young “a political money man with ties to corruption” and accusing Young of taking more than 95 percent of money meant to help the election of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore by funneling it from a Christian-based PAC he had created to a media consulting firm he owned.
The ads have come under considerable fire for not mentioning how Young’s firm then spent the majority of that money on advertising purchases for Moore’s campaign. Young, whose campaign for Congress has only raised $85,546 to Byrne’s $689,214, could not readily respond with his own television commercials, so he told anyone who would listen that Byrne was a “liar” and provided a binder full of 13-year-old receipts appearing to detail precisely how a large portion of the money from that PAC was allocated. While the Byrne camp has been unable to provide documentation showing Young personally pocketed 95 percent of the PAC money, they have stood by the allegations and continued running the ad.
Speaking with Lagniappe, Young called Byrne’s ad “one of the most hurtful and vicious attacks that I’ve ever seen in my life,” comparing it to prostitution allegations lobbed against Steve Windom during his 1998 campaign for Lieutenant Governor and the locally famous Waffle House racism accusations against former Mobile County Commissioner Stephen Nodine.
“We’re in a situation here where a guy says I took money from Christian people and I fooled them and I took 95 percent of the money and gave it to my company,” Young said. “That is a lie and I’ve worked 20 years fighting for what those people believe in. That money bought all of Judge Moore’s TV commercials when he ran for Chief Justice. I think [Byrne] is desperate, I think he’s scared to death he’s going to lose and he’s trying to break my base and see that evangelicals won’t turn out in droves to vote for me.”