Business-Backed Candidate Wins Alabama Special Primary, AP Says

Bradley Byrne, the business-backed candidate running for the U.S. House in Alabama, beat a self-described “Tea Party Republican” in today’s primary race, according to the Associated Press.

Byrne’s victory was the first for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce since the business group pledged last month to take a more active role in such races. Byrne, 58, defeated Dean Young, 49, a property developer who questioned President Barack Obama’s birthplace and pledged to shut down the federal government a second time over Obamacare.

Byrne led Young, with almost 53 percent to 47 percent, with 91 percent of precincts reporting in the AP tally.

The Chamber, which criticized last month’s 16-day partial government shutdown for harming the economy, endorsed Byrne and spent more than $200,000 supporting him in the race’s final days. Donations from political committees run by companies including Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) Inc., Comcast Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and AT&T Inc. (T) helped fuel Byrne’s campaign, which outraised Young’s by a factor of eight.

Byrne pitched himself to voters as a pragmatic statesman who could help break through gridlock in Washington, while casting Young as a problem maker.

“I don’t agree with a lot of the people in Washington,” Byrne said at an Oct. 29 debate in Daphne, Alabama. “But at the end of the day, if we’re not talking to one another, we can’t solve any problems.”

Young was endorsed by a Mobile-based Tea Party group, Common Sense Campaign, and Reno-based Our Voice PAC, a super political action committee founded by former Nevada U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle that spent $65,000 on ads promoting his candidacy. Angle lost her 2010 race to Democrat Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader.

Byrne will face Democrat Burton LeFlore, a 47-year-old Mobile real estate agent, in a Dec. 17 special election in a district that backed Republican Mitt Romney over Obama in 2012.

The winner will fill the Mobile-area seat vacated by Jo Bonner, a Republican who resigned in August to become vice chancellor of the University of Alabama system.

To contact the reporter on this story: Toluse Olorunnipa in Tallahassee, Florida at tolorunnipa@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net

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