The Republican establishment won a key victory in an Alabama congressional primary on Tuesday, as Bradley Byrne, a former-Democrat-turned-right-wing-Republican, defeated Dean Young, a homophobic crazy person who believes Barack Obama was born in Kenya and who promised to oppose John Boehner as Speaker of the House if he were elected.
Byrne won largely on the strength of his fundraising, which outperformed Young by a two-to-one margin. According to Politico, Byrne received campaign donations from the Chamber of Commerce, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, and "dozens" of D.C.-based PACs.
In the end, Byrne defeated Young, 52.5 to 47.5, all but guaranteeing his election in December in the deeply conservative district.
While Young promised to be an outspoken conservative in the House – he was quoted at one point as saying that if he wins people should get “a big ole thing of popcorn and a Big Super Gulp and lean back and turn on C-SPAN” – Byrne warned that his opponent’s style would embarrass the GOP.
Conservative outside groups like the anti-tax Club for Growth have used Republican primaries to boost insurgent candidates, sometimes against sitting incumbents, with the goal of steering the GOP’s congressional wing further to the right.
But after the shutdown, establishment Republicans say they’re increasingly likely to invest in primaries, too. And the Alabama race – pitting a business-friendly former state legislator and flame-throwing tea party figure – was a perfect playground.
“It’s become plainly obvious that staying out of primaries is not a good strategy. You have to play aggressively,” said David French, the chief lobbyist for the National Retail Federation. “I think you’re going to see more of that in the 2014 cycle.”
“We’re in this for the long haul,” he said, “and we’re looking for ways that we can be more effective in the future.”