One thing that has become glaringly obvious in the initial stages of the 2020 U.S. Senate campaign in Alabama: U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) does not have a friend in the Club for Growth. Earlier this week, Club for Growth Action, the federal super PAC associated with Club for Growth, announced it was airing an advertisement opposing Byrne’s candidacy during Saturday’s Iron Bowl college football match-up between the Auburn Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Byrne campaign responded to the ad by calling into question Club for Growth’s loyalties when it comes to China.
“It’s not surprising that the pro-China, Never-Trump Club for Growth would attack America-first, pro-Trump Bradley Byrne, but what is even more hysterical is that they are attacking him over an entity designed to combat cheating countries like China on trade that is supported by President Trump,” Byrne campaign press spokeswoman Lenze Morris said in a statement. “The Club for Growth should take the money they’re wasting on these ads, change their name to the Club for China, and move their offices to Beijing. Bradley Byrne is busy putting America first.”
On Tuesday, Club for Growth responded to the Byrne campaign’s charge by questioning Byrne’s investments in China-heavy stock and mutual funds revealed on his 2018 financial disclosure statement.
“Byrne is the kind of Washington hypocrite who would drink a champagne toast after voting for prohibition,” Joe Kildea, a spokesman for Club for Growth Action said in a statement provided to Yellowhammer News. “He claims to be tough on China, but his personal financial disclosure reveals he has significant investments in China, and he has voted for subsidies for Chinese companies. Typical DC politician. Club for Growth Action will make sure voters aren’t deceived by his double talk.”
Kildea’s statement regarding subsidies for Chinese companies apparently refers to his support for the Export-Import Bank’s reauthorization on at least two occasions, which is highlighted in the Club for Growth Action’s ad.
When asked about Club for Growth’s relentless opposition to Byrne’s candidacy, Kildea told Yellowhammer News that the group hoped to see a “real conservative” win in 2020.
“At the end of the day, we want a real conservative to win the primary and hold this Senate seat, not a Democrat or a RINO,” Kildea said. “And if there’s a run-off, we’d rather it be among more conservative candidates, not Byrne.”
Last month, Politico reported Club for Growth was a force in pushing former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to enter the race. Although Club for Growth has not formally endorsed a candidate, it is widely speculated the group was leaning toward supporting Sessions, who made an 11th-hour entry into the race on the day before the qualifying deadline and previously served for 20 years in the U.S. Senate.
Byrne campaign manager Seth Morrow responded to the attacks, noting that Club for Growth opposed Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy in the early stages of his campaign and questioned Sessions’ association with the organization.
“This is a group that spent millions attacking President Trump while Bradley votes with President Trump 97% of the time,” Morrow said to Yellowhammer News. “This group supports free and unfettered trade with China, doesn’t endorse a border wall, and opposed the President’s America First agenda. It’s sad that Jeff Sessions has aligned with them, but what’s sadder still is that anyone cares what the Club for China thinks about Alabama’s U.S. Senate race.”