GOP proxy fight in Alabama

It may be an off-year in campaign politics, but there are plenty of fascinating elections on tap for today. The one I’ll be watching closest? The runoff Republican primary in Alabama’s 1st congressional district, pitting Tea Partier Dean Young and Bradley Byrne, a former state senator, former member of the Alabama Board of Education, and former gubernatorial candidate.
On the surface, Byrne should appears well positioned – he’s an experienced conservative Republican in a “red” district who enjoys the support of the party establishment. But Dean Young has generated a far-right following with extremism that pushes the envelope, even by the standards of today’s GOP.
Dave Weigel flagged the above clip in which Young was interviewed on Bryan Fischer’s right-wing radio show, and it offers a pretty helpful sense of the congressional candidate’s perspective.
Among other things, Young wants to go to Congress so he can declare the United States a “Christian nation,” oppose Speaker Boehner’s re-nomination, oppose immigration, and oppose ENDA.
On that last point, it’s worth noting that Young has also told gay people in Alabama they should “go back to California or Vermont or wherever they came from” if they don’t like the state’s policies.
What’s more, as Rachel noted on the show last night, there’s an amazing Q&A The Guardian published with both candidates, in which Young says he thinks President Obama is from Kenya.
As for why the election is worth watching, this race has become a proxy for the larger intra-party conflict between a conservative establishment and a hyper-conservative extremist base. As Tea Partiers rally behind Young, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which hardly ever intervenes in primary fights without an incumbent, is siding with Byrne.
After congressional Republicans recently shut down the federal government, there were widespread questions as to which faction of the party is ascendant. We’ll get a hint about the answer in tonight’s results in Alabama.