Even though Bradley Byrne led the ticket in the Republican primary, he had to take a backseat for a while due to the GOP recount controversy. Now that the recount is over, it’s clear that Bradley will face Dr. Robert Bentley in the run-off on July 13th. To gain the top spot, Bradley overcame what most say was a poorly-run campaign on his part. Even though he was under constant attacks by Tim James, Bradley had every opportunity to pull away from the pack, but he never did. The end result was Bradley leading the ticket by a very small margin getting only 28% of the vote. It was quite evident that the top GOP bosses, including Governor Riley, were backing Bradley, and they have to be greatly disappointed with their efforts.
I really thought Tim would lead the ticket in the primary due mostly to Bradley’s campaign slipping badly in mid-May. But Tim – who clearly had the momentum at the time – made a statement about Coach Nick Saban in an apparent attempt to be funny, and it hurt him badly. Alabamians take their football seriously and it doesn’t take much to set off a fire storm. At a critical time in the campaign, Tim’s statement became a hot topic on all of the sports talk shows. In my opinion, it hurt Tim and may have been enough in itself to cost him a spot in the run-off. Lots of Bama fans took what he said seriously. Tim, as governor, couldn’t fire a coach, but most folks don’t know that.
Another factor in the reversal of fortunes between Bradley and Tim was that Bradley’s advisors finally realized that it was a mistake to run a race solely aimed at Dr. Paul Hubbert and AEA. Somebody eventually figured out that Paul Hubbert’s name wasn’t on the ballot. The resulting change in strategy may have been the real difference in why the primary vote turned around at a critical time. Bradley forgot about Paul and started to hammer Tim on a daily basis. It apparently worked.
Judge Roy Moore, who started his campaign with over 30% of the vote, slipped badly as the race progressed. He never seemed to get off the ground. Tim took some of his support and that hurt his chances to make the run-off. The Judge ended up in fourth place, but really not that far behind Bradley in votes. Judge Moore seemed to enjoy running, ran a low-budget campaign and seemed at peace when his race ended on June 1st.
Now let’s take a look at Dr. Bentley’s showing. The Tuscaloosa doctor is smart, a hard worker, and I am told an honorable man. Clearly, he ran the best campaign of any of the men who wanted to be Governor and with much less money than either Bradley or Tim. He also was able to take advantage of the negative tone of the Byrne and James campaigns. Dr. Bentley had a positive message and it paid off for him. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dr. Bentley wins in the run-off and is the GOP nominee in the fall. He will be a formidable candidate in the fall. As soon as the recount was over on June 18th, the Byrne campaign started with attack ads on Dr. Bentley. That may turn out to be a major mistake!
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