Although Tuesday's narrow win by Bradley Byrne in the Republican runoff for Congress from Alabama's 1st District is being seen as a triumph for the GOP "establishment" over the tea party this is not exactly accurate.
Byrne, former state senator and chancellor of the Alabama Community College System, defeated real estate developer Dean Young with 52.5 percent of the vote.
Byrne and Young placed one-two earlier this year in the GOP primary to replace Jo Bonner, who resigned in August to become vice chancellor of the University of Alabama.
Young voiced solidarity with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and had support of several tea party groups in the Mobile-area district. A strong social-issues conservative on abortion and marriage, Young also had the support of the hero of Alabama's cultural conservatives, state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, famed for refusing to implement a federal judge's orders to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state Supreme Court building.
Byrne, who lost a primary race for governor in 2010, was backed by Wal-Mart Stores, Home Depot, and other major businesses in the state. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Rep. Jack Edwards, who represented the district from 1964-84, were in the Byrne camp. However, Byrne also had the backing of some tea party groups.
"Like most of the runoffs in Alabama, this was a turn-out kind of race, and Byrne's team was better at it — barely," Marty Connors, former state GOP chairman, told Newsmax.
Connors compared Byrne and Young to two legendary boxers of the 1970s.
"You could say that Bradley is Muhammad Ali and Dean is Joe Frazier — both champs, but with different styles," he said.
While Burton LeFlore is the Democrat on the Dec. 17 special-election ballot, the runoff Tuesday was considered tantamount to election in a district that has been in Republican hands since 1964.
Despite the near-certain election of Byrne to Congress next month, several published reports point out that on Election Night, Young refused formally to endorse him. One who heard those reports was Michael Reagan, longtime radio commentator and son of Ronald Reagan.
"Dean Young is a fool not to support Bradley Byrne," Reagan tweeted Tuesday night. "Not Reaganesque."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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