A week before the runoff election between Republicans Bradley Byrne and Dean Young in District 1, Young was on the attack at a candidate forum hosted by the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce at Daphne United Methodist Church Oct. 29.
Democratic candidate Burton LeFlore also participated and generally provided counterpoint to Byrne and Young’s more conservative message.
But it was Young who spoke like he had something to lose and along with nearly every answer he provided, he included a hit on Byrne. Meanwhile Byrne stuck to his message and wasn’t drawn into an argument, perhaps more cautious after recent questioning concerning the honesty of his campaign.
“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce just endorsed Bradley Byrne,” Young told the sparse audience in a debate that was moderated by Local15’s Greg Peterson and telecast on UTV 44. “They also said just a week ago they want to provide amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants. I would not accept that.”
Later, responding to a question about whether they would support legislation that would cut benefits to elderly or low income Americans, Young reminded the audience of Byrne’s vote in favor of a $1.2 billion state tax increase in 2003. He would go on to make the same argument three times during the hour-long program, only once in response to a question about tax issues.
LeFlore, who stumbled embarrassingly over his opening remarks, quickly recovered and hit a stride, reiterating his campaign message of having a litmus test for voting for any legislation that would come before him: “Is it right for the people of District 1?”
Regarding the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, it was clear all three candidates believed it was a flawed piece of legislation for coastal Alabama. Byrne called it a “huge mistake” and suggested putting off its effective date until more data could be compiled.
LeFlore said it “would be more devastating than any flood ever could be” and said it would cripple the local economy and housing market and Young said the federal government shouldn’t be involved in any insurance market and it was best left to free enterprise.
All three candidates also agreed to not resign from Congress and leave taxpayers paying for a special election and they also agreed upon the necessity of oil exploration.
On Obamacare, LeFlore admitted he wasn’t familiar with all of its details but said it is the law of the land and must be accepted. He also pointed out Alabama’s high infant mortality rate, low life expectancy and high numbers of uninsured. Young said thewas “a hill to die on” and the “worst decision the nation has ever made besides voting for Obama.”
Byrne said he expected that within a few a years, Democrats would come to Republicans asking for help with the bill, at which point they could propose repealing it and starting on a new bipartisan solution.
In closing, Byrne asked voters to look at his record and recognize the role a congressman plays in job recruitment and economic development. He called himself a “conservative, business-minded person” who will reflect the area’s values in Washington.
LeFlore promised to restore democracy, which he said was absent in the lack of bipartisanship. He called himself “a progressive individual” and “a leader who will work for this district I love.”
Young warned viewers the nation is watching the election to see if the district would choose “between the Republican establishment and the people who want to get the nation back to where we once were. My opponent has been bankrolled by special interests and they do that because he is the establishment. I’ve got people who don’t have a lot of money but have shoe leather. I’m going up (to Washington) not to make friends but to work with people who want to get things done…The choice is simple…I need your help.”
Voters in south Alabama will go to the polls Nov. 5 to determine whether Byrne or Young will advance to the Dec. 17 general election against LeFlore.