Q&A: Alabama's 'pitchfork people' v the Republican old guard

Dean Young and Bradley Byrne are contesting the Republican primary for a House seat in Alabama. They took our questions

• Alabama's Tea Party champion cast off by his core as special election nears

The contest for the Republican nomination in the first congressional district of Alabama has pitched Bradley Byrne, a 58-year-old career politician, against the more conservative Dean Young. 

Young, who describes his supporters as “pitchfork people”, is opposed to homosexuals "pretending they're married", and believes Barack Obama was probably born in Kenya. Byrne, who was a Democrat until 1997, has adopted strongly conservative positions in order to fend off his conservative rival. 

The contest between Byrne and Young is seen as a fight for the heart and soul of a Republican party licking its wounds after the government shutdown led to plummeting poll ratings. As such, it is being watched closely by political analysts in Washington.

The Guardian asked both of them to answer a series of touchstone questions.

Apart from the United States, which other country do you admire?

Byrne: Good question. Israel.

Young: I'm not a big world traveller, so I don't know.

Who is your political hero?

Byrne: Forever and all time? Winston Churchill.

Young: Judge Roy Moore.

How would you summarise your philosophy in one sentence?

Byrne: Believe in God, love your family and work hard.

Young: I have a Christian worldview.

Who is the current Treasury secretary?

Byrne: I can see his face but I can't remember his name. Is it Jack Lew?

Young: It was Paulson. Is it Tim Geithner now?

Who is the current chief whip for Republicans in the House?

Byrne: Kevin McCarthy. I met him the other day so that's an easy question.

Young: I don't know. Eric Cantor - is that who it is?

What should US policy toward Saudi Arabia be?

Byrne: While it is nominally an ally, it has a lot of internal problems, particularly with what they deal with what I consider to be extremist views within Islam … We need to be in a serious conversation with them about that.

Young: We should have free trade with them.

Leaving the question of gay marriage aside, do you believe homosexual people can feel the same love for one another as straight people?

Byrne: Yes.

Young: When you start talking about that, I don't even know … Homosexuality is wrong, and that is just the way it is. Always has been, always will be.

Where was Barack Obama born?

Byrne: He was born in Hawaii and he has produced a birth certificate.

Young: That is what we call the $64,000 question! I have no idea! [When pushed for an answer:] Kenya.


Paul Lewis

The GuardianTramp

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