Tags: Roy Moore | bradley byrne | mitch mcconnell | alabama | senate | gop

Rep. Byrne: McConnell 'Should Have Stayed Out' of Alabama Senate Race

(MSNBC's "Morning Joe")

By    |   Wednesday, 13 December 2017 03:18 PM

Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., laid the blame for his state losing one of its Senate seats squarely on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., saying Wednesday the interference led to edging out strong candidates and eventually leaving voters to pick between a flawed Roy Moore or his Democratic challenger and eventual race winner, Doug Jones.

"It started out with a now-disgraced Gov. Robert Bentley appointing the attorney general who was supposed to be investigating him to take Jeff Sessions' place in the United States Senate," Byrne told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

"Then we had Mitch McConnell jumping headfirst into that campaign, spending millions of dollars trying to keep good candidates out and trashing other candidates in this race, which only made Alabamians angrier," Byrne added.

Bradley's appointee, Luther Strange, as a result ended up in a runoff against Moore, a "very weak candidate" who ended up pulling off a surprise win against Strange in a runoff election.

"When he ran as a chief justice for Supreme Court in 2012, he only won by four percentage points," said Byrne of Moore, pointing out that it occurred on the same day as  then-GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried Alabama by 20 points.

And then, when women started coming forward with "35-plus-year-old allegations and all this national attention because it's a special election, and still Roy Moore came within one and a half percentage points of winning, this is a once in a lifetime, maybe once in several lifetimes, election for the state of Alabama," Byrne added, and he hopes he never sees another election like it.

McConnell's involvement in the election actually began just after Strange was appointed, reports Politico.

At that time, McConnell contacted Strange and asked him if he or Trump should urge Gov. Kay Ivey, who replaced Bentley after he left office as part of a plea deal reached in a ethics violation scandal, to urge her not to call a special election for Strange's seat in 2017.

Bentley, before leaving office, set a special election for November 2018, but Ivey came under pressure to move the election forward, which McConnell thought could cause issues while Republicans were trying to pass tax legislation and repeal Obamacare.

Strange said he considered Ivey a friend who would not cut his time in office short, reports Politico, but in April, Ivey announced a June primary and a December special election.

"I think Mitch McConnell has much to do about this outcome of this race as any other single person in America," Byrne complained Wednesday. "Mitch McConnell should have stayed out of this race and, if he would have we'd have, a Republican U.S. senator coming up there and not a Democrat congressman."

Byrne said he voted for Moore, as he always casts a straight Republican ballot, but he does think the contentious battle for the Senate seat, and the scandalous accusations against the former Supreme Court justice damaged Alabama's reputation.

"The way Alabama has been portrayed in the last five weeks is not Alabama," he said. "Thirty-two-year-old men don't date teenage girls in Alabama. That's just not Alabama. I'm glad it's over so that we can talk about the good things and frankly we can move on. We need to move on here in Washington."

Byrne said he went to law school with Jones, and considers him a "good guy" and a great prosecutor, even if they are on different ends of the political spectrum, but he does wish a Republican had been elected.

He said he also does not think President Donald Trump's efforts, at first for Strange and then about Moore, came into play, as the election was "all about Alabama."

"I know that's not what you want to hear," Byrne said. "You want to hear this is somehow a harbinger for 2018 in the state of Alabama. It just isn't. This was a purely weird, unique election."

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's interference in the Alabama Senate race led to a Democrat being sent to Congress from the deep red state, Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday.
bradley byrne, mitch mcconnell, alabama, senate, gop
Wednesday, 13 December 2017 03:18 PM
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