Dr. Paul Hubbert says he initially thought Bradley Byrne’s attacks on the AEA were just fund-raising gimmicks. But it became quite obvious very early on that this was not the Byrne campaign’s intent. AEA and Paul Hubbert were jointly targeted as political enemy number one by the man who most everybody believed would win the GOP primary with ease. Paul, explaining why AEA fought back, observed:
If Bradley Byrne had left us alone, we would have been only slightly involved in the governor’s race. Basically he called us out. He threatened to burn our house down.
The Byrne campaign zeroed in on AEA in an $8 million attack campaign that ended in a double-digit run-off loss to Dr. Robert Bentley. Paul told Bob Lowery, a very good reporter with the Huntsville Times, that AEA normally devotes its political work to the legislative arena and that the organization will return there in the general election. Paul said that the leaders at AEA “made a decision that it was time to bring Bradley’s threat to their folks to the voters’ attention.” It became obvious that Paul believed Bradley “was serious about doing damage” to the association and its members.
I would have to agree with Paul that the Republican primary, rather than involving a legitimate debate on issues, became “a referendum on Bradley Byrne’s feelings toward AEA.” That was a losing proposition with voters who were more concerned about the state’s unemployment rate and jobs than “insider politics” in Montgomery. A number of lessons should have been learned from the GOP and Democratic primaries by campaign consultants.
Sources: AL.com and The Huntsville Times
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