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Byrne (On) Notice

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 10: Tea Party activists cheer during the 'Exempt America from Obamacare' rally, on Capitol Hill, September 10, 2013 in Washington, DC. Some conservative lawmakers are making a push to try to defund the health care law as part of the debates over the budget and funding the federal government.
National Journal
Josh Kraushaar
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Josh Kraushaar
Nov. 1, 2013, 7:40 a.m.

The biggest di­vide with­in the Re­pub­lic­an party is as much over style as sub­stance — wheth­er con­ser­vat­ives should be more con­front­a­tion­al or seek to achieve their goals more quietly and stra­tegic­ally. It’s more of a cul­tur­al di­vide as it as an ideo­lo­gic­al one.

— That di­vide is play­ing it­self out in an Alabama Re­pub­lic­an run­off for the Mo­bile-based seat of former GOP Rep. Jo Bon­ner. Re­pub­lic­ans, con­ser­vat­ive and es­tab­lish­ment alike, have ral­lied be­hind Brad­ley Byrne, who is as cre­den­tialed as they come. He’s a former gubernat­ori­al fron­trun­ner, state com­munity col­lege chan­cel­lor, and at­tor­ney. His op­pon­ent, Dean Young, eked out a second-place fin­ish in the primary, thanks to a so­cially-con­ser­vat­ive mes­sage tar­geted to evan­gel­ic­al Chris­ti­ans.

— Just check out this Guard­i­an (UK) Q&A with the two can­did­ates. Byrne’s polit­ic­al idol is Win­ston Churchill. Young’s is Roy Moore, the Alabama Su­preme Court Justice who fought to keep a monu­ment of the 10 Com­mand­ments on gov­ern­ment prop­erty. Young said he’s not a “big world trav­el­er” when asked what county he ad­mired. Byrne said Pres­id­ent Obama‘s birth­place was Hawaii; Young called it the “$64,000 ques­tion.”

— And Young, des­pite be­ing out­spent and outen­dorsed, is run­ning neck-and-neck with the pro­hib­it­ive fa­vor­ite. (One GOP robo-poll showed him with a with­in-the-mar­gin lead.) Des­pite only hav­ing one cam­paign staffer, his com­par­is­ons to Ted Cruz and out­spoken so­cial con­ser­vat­ism are draw­ing grass­roots con­ser­vat­ives to his side in a low-turnout elec­tion.

Re­mem­ber: Bon­ner’s old dis­trict isn’t a tea-party hot­bed; it’s the busi­ness epi­cen­ter of the state. The Cook Polit­ic­al Re­port wrote: “A Young vic­tory would send shock waves throughout the House GOP.” As if the party needed any more re­mind­ers.

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