ROBERTSDALE, Ala. -- A tea party-aligned Republican said Saturday he would not support another term as speaker for John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), while his business-backed GOP opponent for Congress declined to say how he would vote.
"I wouldn't vote for him," said real estate developer Dean Young, one of two Republicans competing for their party's nomination for Congress in a Tuesday runoff election. A Christian conservative supported by local tea party activists, Young didn't specify who he'd like to see become speaker. But he said the House GOP Conference needs "somebody up there that will get the country moving back in the right direction," not someone who will "keep giving in with the same old, same old establishment Republicans."
Former state senator Bradley Byrne, Young's runoff opponent, didn't echo the harsh criticism of Boehner and he said he doesn't know of anyone who could do a better job dealing with a difficult situation. Still, he declined to commit to supporting him to lead the House.
"I think he's got the toughest job in the United States of America," Byrne said. "And while I don't agree with everything that he's done, I've watched with respect as he's tried to thread the needle with the difficult hand he's been dealt. I don't know if I would support him for speaker -- I'm not even thinking about things like that."
Selection of a speaker takes place at the beginning of each Congress. Boehner was reelected by his colleagues in January, but only narrowly.
Young and Byrne are running for the 1st congressional district seat formerly held by Republican Jo Bonner, who recently resigned to take a position in the University of Alabama system. Neither candidate received a majority of the vote in the September primary.
Bonner supports Byrne. So does the business community, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is spending money on his behalf. But even as Young has been outspent and lacks national reinforcements, polls show a close race. And if turnout is low on Tuesday, observers say, it will increase the odds of an upset victory for Young.
The Republican nominee is expected to skate to victory in the special general election in this heavily Republican South Alabama district.