Business-backed Republican tops Tea Party rival in Alabama primary

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama Tue Nov 5, 2013 11:54pm EST

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BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Reuters) - A business-backed former state senator beat a Tea Party movement rival on Tuesday in an Alabama congressional primary that highlighted tensions between the Republican Party's pragmatic and ideological wings over the recent government shutdown.

Major businesses including Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Home Depot Inc had backed the campaign of former lawmaker Bradley Byrne, saying the 58-year-old attorney better represents their interests than Dean Young, a wealthy real estate developer running a grass-roots campaign.

An unofficial tally gave Byrne 52.5 percent of the vote to Young's 47.5 percent.

Young told his supporters he had conceded, saying, "It looks like we fell a little short."

But he said he would not support Byrne in the December 17 election, when he will face Democrat Burton LeFlore.

Byrne backed the Republican Party's mainstream during the government shutdown, which opposed funding for the Obama administration's healthcare reform law, but disagreed with the shutdown.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent their national political director, Rob Engstrom, to Alabama last week to an endorsement event with Byrne, a former Democrat who joined the Republicans in 1997.

Many of its members, such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot, have sent funds to Byrne's campaign, part of a total war chest of more than $689,000 according to the Federal Election Commission.

"Washington needs proven leaders who understand the principals of free enterprise," said the chamber's spokesman, Blair Latoff Holmes.

His donor list reads like a who's who of national and local business leaders, with politicians such as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor tossing in contributions.

In contrast, Young depended on grass-roots support with only a modest $85,546 raised, according to the FEC. Young is aligned with an Alabama judge who famously erected a granite monument of the Ten Commandments in 2001 at the state supreme court building in Montgomery. It was later removed.

(Editing by David Adams, Sharon Bernstein, Maureen Bavdek and Ken Wills)

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Comments (5)
xyz2055 wrote:
Tea Party is being put on notice.

Nov 06, 2013 1:42am EST  --  Report as abuse
Whipsplash wrote:
Like I posted during the government shutdown;
“These so called “conservative” groups are enemies of the state and should be treated as such. I think they’ll find out how little power they have when some of the business associations that previously backed tea party candidates throw their weight behind defeating them in the next couple of elections.”

“There’s nothing conservative about a group that threatens peoples livelihoods and the wellbeing of the US economy.”

“Vote every republican out of every office every chance you get!”

Nov 06, 2013 8:41am EST  --  Report as abuse
unionwv wrote:
It’s no surprise at all that business interests have defeated a Tea Party candidate. It’s easy to demonize anyone who proposes policies which would effectively limit governmental largess, these days.

The Tea Party and Libertarians in general are focussed on government bloating, but all “power corrupts” and size is power. It’s not just government. Excessively powerful organizations of all kinds are choking individual liberty. For example, is government doing away with jobs when it can and outsourcing others (useful work) or is big business primarily responsible?

I believe Teddy Roosevelt was wrong when, during his “trust busting” years versus Standard Oil, he said he was not against bigness per se. So now we have “too big to fail” banks and the individual citizen takes the hindmost.

If individual liberty is to prevail without an eventual violent revolution, the Tea Party must do something tantamount to what the “community organizer” from Chicago(?) did, but in every political subdivision in the country. It must do the hard footwork of Organizing EVERYWHERE as a political party and make clear that it represents individual aspirations against organized bigness of all kinds.

Nov 06, 2013 8:58am EST  --  Report as abuse
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