Club for Growth Action, the federal super PAC associated with the Washington, D.C.- based Club for Growth, is set to run a television advertisement opposing Congressman Bradley Byrne’s (AL-01) Republican 2020 U.S. Senate candidacy.
According to a source with direct knowledge, the ad, which is already available online here, will first run on TV during the Iron Bowl this Saturday in the Mobile media market — in Byrne’s House district. The ad will subsequently run in the same market on Fox News Channel for a week.
Entitled “Foreign,” the ad slams Byrne for voting “aye” on a continuing appropriations bill in 2014, on the “Reform Exports and Expand the American Economy Act” in 2015 and on accepting a conference committee report on an infrastructure funding bill in 2015.
Of these three votes in question, the entire Alabama delegation voted “aye” on the first, everyone but Congressman Gary Palmer (AL-06) voted “aye” on the second and everyone but Palmer and Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) voted “aye” on the latter.
“Who does Bradley Byrne work for in Washington?” the ad first asks via a narrator.
“Hint, it’s not you,” the narrator continues. “Byrne voted three times to fund a government giveaway program that hands out billions of dollars to help big companies make more profits overseas, sending your U.S. tax dollars to countries like China, Russia and even Sudan, a state sponsor of terrorism.”
“Bradley Byrne: working for the special interests, not your interests,” the ad concludes.
As previously outlined by Yellowhammer News, Club for Growth has been an outspoken fan of former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions entering the race to reclaim his old seat. Like Byrne, Sessions calls the Mobile-area home. Club for Growth on Monday also released polling numbers showing its endorsed candidate to replace Byrne in Alabama’s First Congressional District race, former State Senator Bill Hightower (R-Mobile), leading the field.
In a statement, Club for Growth president David McIntosh commented on the new anti-Byrne ad.
“Alabama deserves a conservative Senator but that’s not Bradley Byrne; he’s just another politician who went to Washington and put special interests ahead of Alabama voters,” McIntosh said. “If Republicans want to beat liberal Democrat Doug Jones, they want to nominate a principled candidate who will represent Alabama’s conservative values in the Senate.”
Club for Growth spent over $11 million against Trump in the 2016 primary cycle, becoming known as a leader in the “Never Trump” movement. This was the first time in the organization’s history it got involved in a presidential primary.
The Hill in 2016 even published an article headlined, “Club For Growth is Trump enemy No. 1.”
McIntosh, a former member of Congress from Indiana, was actually quoted in that article, saying, “[Trump’s] not really a conservative. He’ll tell what he wants you to hear, and who knows what he’d do if he got into office.”
“Donald Trump is the worst Republican candidate on economic issues,” McIntosh asserted at another point in the 2016 primary cycle. “It’s astonishing that he’s even running as a Republican.”
Club for Growth’s policy positions center on supporting a free-market economic system, including free trade. This generally means opposition to tariffs and other tough trade measures supported by Trump.
In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Byrne’s campaign press secretary Lenze Morris responded to the ad.
“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,” Morris said.
“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,” she added.
The Byrne campaign explained that the attack ad’s veiled premise is hitting Byrne for his support of the Export-Import Bank.
Trump has previously called the Export Import Bank “a very good thing” that “can make a lot of money.”
Additionally, “White House officials, including Peter Navarro and Larry Kudlow, have recently described the bank as an important weapon in the U.S. trade arsenal against countries such as China that have their own export financing agencies,” per Politico.
Other qualified GOP candidates in the race include former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, Secretary of State John Merrill and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs).
Super PACs like Club for Growth Action “may receive unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations, labor unions and other political action committees for the purpose of financing independent expenditures and other independent political activity,” according to the FEC.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn