U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne officially entered Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate race Friday, and moments after signing qualifying documents, he fired back at criticism by some — including incumbent opponent Doug Jones — over his participation in a recent Republican protest of House impeachment hearings.
“I’ve got years of experience and a track record of fighting and fighting successfully for the things that matter,” Byrne said. “We just had a fight in Washington this week, and I’ve proven as recently as just a few days ago, that I’m willing to do what it takes, to do whatever we have to do to fight for the values that matter to the American people and to fight for President Trump.”
On Wednesday, a group of Republican congressmen, including Byrne and fellow Alabama representatives Mo Brooks and Gary Palmer, pushed into a closed-door hearing being held by the House Intelligence Committee. Republicans told members of the media that they objected to impeachment proceedings being held behind closed doors, which Byrne reiterated Friday.
“They’re trying to hide this whole process from the American people because they do not have a case,” Byrne said. “He was duly elected and they’re trying to take it away from him. It’s a complete sham … . I am sick and tired, as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, of being locked out of that room. When you lock us out of that room, you lock the American people out of that room.”
Democratic lawmakers such as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer have insisted the closed-door process is intended to prevent the hearings from becoming “a circus,” and reportedly are looking to take the probe public next month.
The Republican protest also drew criticism from Byrne’s incumbent opponent in the Senate race, Doug Jones, who called it a “political stunt.”
“I thought it was (a) petty little temper tantrum,” Jones said during a phone news conference with Alabama reporters Thursday. “I thought Alabama had moved beyond that after the stand in the schoolhouse door,” he said, referring to George Wallace’s infamous protest of integration at the University of Alabama in 1963.
Byrne scoffed at Jones’ comments. “It’s stupid to call it the same as the stand in the schoolhouse door, and Doug Jones knows that,” he said. “It’s stupid, and it’s not even a close comparison. You know what it really is? I’m a fighter and he’s not and the people of America and the people of Alabama want a fighter, not someone like him.”
Byrne added that he had received “overwhelmingly positive feedback” about the protest from constituents through both his congressional and campaign offices.
Byrne is part of a lengthy slate of candidates who have declared that they will run against Jones in 2020, which includes former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, whom Jones defeated in 2017; Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill; state Rep. Arnold Mooney; and former Auburn Tigers football coach Tommy Tuberville.