FAIRHOPE, Ala (WKRG) — Bradley Byrne’s time as Lower Alabama’s congressman is running short and the Republican from Fairhope says he now regrets giving up his House seat to run for U.S. Senate.
He places the blame for his loss in the Senate race squarely at the feet of Jeff Sessions, who entered the race months after Byrne, and siphoned off a large part of his much needed support in Lower Alabama.
“I went to Jeff Sessions early on, we had a number of conversations, he got in at the last minute directly contrary to what he led me to believe,” Byrne said in an interview with WKRG News 5’s Peter Albrecht earlier this month at his home in Fairhope. “I regret that I put myself, my family, and my friends and supporters through that campaign. There was no way (Sessions) was going to win that seat. He had too many negatives associated with (disapproval from) President Trump.”
Sessions served as one of Alabama’s U.S. Senators from 1997-2017, before his short tenure as U.S. Attorney General.
Byrne finished third behind Tommy Tuberville and Sessions in the March Republican Primary. Tuberville then routed Sessions in the July Runoff.
Byrne is convinced that he would have beaten Tuberville in a head-to-head match-up.
“That’s what our polling showed,” Byrne said. “But one of the things I’ve learned in politics is that it’s like the Greek Gods, it’s arbitrary. You never know. But there was never a path for Jeff Sessions to win that seat. But he made the decision he did and it negatively impacted me.”
Byrne says Tuberville, despite a lack of knowledge about issues and government, can become an effective Senator by building a solid staff around him.
While Tuberville launches his Senate career, some believe Alabama’s other senator, Richard Shelby could be at the end of his. He will be 88 when it’s time for him to run again in 2022. Byrne, though, says he will not run if Shelby retires.
“I don’t think so,” Byrne said. “You have to understand when it’s your time and when it’s not your time and I don’t think that election is my time. You never say never in politics but that’s not where I’m headed right now.”
Byrne also says he has no interest in running for Governor in 2022. He lost in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial runoff to Robert Bentley.
Byrne says he has no definitive plan but he is more likely to stay settled in Alabama than take a job in Washington. He says, however, that leaving his job in the U.S. Capitol has been difficult.
“I never, ever, walked out onto the floor of the House of Representatives without being in awe of the fact I was there and to be able to do what I did,” Byrne said. “It was a rare privilege for me, and I’ll never forget it”
In part two of our interview, Byrne looks back on his successes, frustrations, and failures in office.
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