By Quin Hillyer;
Just to correct the record — and I could have gone nuclear with this by going to every news outlet in town, but I didn’t — Dean Young has spent the greater part of the congressional race in southern Alabama running ads citing a second-hand endorsement by radio host Mark Levin, dating from 2013, as if it applies to this race in 2016. It doesn’t. Maybe Young didn’t know that an endorsement isn’t transferrable to future races.
Levin’s people spent a couple of weeks e-mailing Young to ask him to stop misusing the old endorsement. Maybe they had an old email address or something. After I apprised Young of the fact that I had five separate communications from Levin to the effect that his endorsement does not apply in 2016, and followed up with multiple messages back and forth among Levin’s people and Young, Young’s campaign did take down the ads after letting them run for a bit more than 50 additional hours, without public comment.
Levin, a longtime friendly acquaintance and ally of mine, had enthusiastically backed me in the 2013 primary — but, when I lost, he endorsed Young, whom he did not personally know, in the runoff, as Young was the perceived more conservative of the two remaining candidates.
But Levin had paid no attention to the 2016 race until Young started re-using that old endorsement. He then specifically requested that the ads not be run.
The incumbent, Bradley Byrne, has in the meantime earned ratings as the most conservative member of Alabama’s delegation, with perfect pro-life and pro-gun-rights ratings and a tremendous record of fiscal conservatism.
That’s why other of Young’s commercials are utterly misleading. He repeatedly ran ads claiming that Byrne somehow had voted to fund pro-abortion organization Planned Parenthood — this, even though the premier pro-life group in the country, National Right to Life, gave Byrne a rating of 100 percent. Surely the organization whose entire purpose is to protect the right to life and to monitor how Congress votes on the issue would know if Byrne had somehow betrayed their cause.
The most ominous Young ad accused Byrne of a “secret” vote in the Rules Committee to betray that cause. Look, I worked at a high staff level in Congress. I know something about this. There is almost never a case where a vote in the Rules Committee carries some sort of secret effect on policy. A vote in Rules is exactly what it sounds like: It is a vote to set the rules for debate on the House floor — as in how many minutes will be allowed for debate on each side, how many speakers, and whether the vote itself will be held open for five minutes or 15. That’s it.
But here’s the real proof. If this were a secret vote to betray conservative values, why did virtually the entire Republican Conference — including the entire leadership of the conservative Freedom Caucus and Alabama’s other two most conservative congressmen, Gary Palmer and Mo Brooks — vote exactly as Byrne did? And why did every Democrat vote against? Was every Republican secretly voting pro-abortion, while every liberal Democrat voted pro-life?
The ad is completely and utterly absurd.
Byrne has been a superb Representative. He was the sole, lead author of the very first bill that actually passed the House to utterly repeal Obamacare in its entirety. (The Senate failed to pass it.) And he has been superb on local interests, too: passing language that helped extend the snapper-fishing season; advancing the Mobile River bridge project more in two years than it had advanced in the previous 15; protecting Austal’s ship contracts; and fighting for RESTORE Act money.
Dean Young, for his part, is a dedicated and energetic advocate for conservative social policies. He could run on that positive record. There’s no need for him to tear down his opponent with ridiculously misleading attacks.