Although special elections can be tricky — especially when there are multiple candidates in the field — Byrne is well ahead of the other four challengers in name recognition. He’s also considered the odds-on favorite at this point.
His old nemeses, the Alabama Education Association, will ne pleased no matter what the outcome — defeat and political oblivion or victory and off to Washington — so the AEA is likely to spend its money on other things.
The former Democrat tried to get rid of the baggage that comes with that political indiscretion, and in his announcement Tuesday he laid out a platform that places him squarely in the right-of-center block of the Republican Party. In addition to being critical of President Barack Obama and his health-care reform efforts, he also chided Congress for a bad gun bill, for not putting border security ahead of other immigration reforms, and for energy proposals that would raise costs to consumers. He also called for a simplified tax code, cutting back on government regulations and letting states run their education systems (a crumb to the Common Core opponents without actually addressing the issue).
Because all politics are local, Byrne vowed to get the federal government to spend time and money to build the Interstate 10 bridge between Baldwin and Mobile counties and make it stop spending time and money trying to manage the fishing industry. Waving a copy of the U.S. Constitution, he said, “I can’t find anywhere in here the word ‘snapper.’” He also promised to make every effort to see that the U.S. Navy and the Corps of Engineers continued to spend money in and around Mobile.
All-in-all it was a campaign kickoff tailor-made for the residents in his district — fiscally conservative, wary of government unless it is building something they want, and solidly Republican. He even praised his old opponent, Gov. Robert Bentley, who still has a strong following down there, and endorsed him for re-election.
Up in Montgomery, Gov. Bentley, hearing that, surely smiled.