MONTGOMERY, AL (WBRC) - There were some tough fought battles in Tuesday's runoff elections, but the toughest of all was the Republican race for Alabama governor.
Robert Bentley won with a sizeable lead over Bradley Byrne. Bentley had barely made it into the runoff over Tim James during the June primary and the subsequent recount. On Tuesday night, he defeated Byrne with 56 percent of the vote. Bentley will now face Democrat Ron Sparks in November.
"You know Alabama is hurting, and we need leadership in this state," said Bentley after his runoff win. "And what we need is we need to be putting people back to work and that is going to be my number 1 goal in this campaign coming up, and once we win it in November, we will be focusing on the real issues that affect us today."
Now that he is the republican nominee, Bentley says it's also time to heal the cracks that formed during the runoff campaign when Governor Bob Riley, many special interest groups and other high-profile Republicans came out to back Bradley Byrne. He says after he heals those old wounds, it is off to the November race against Ron Sparks where he looks to continue to spread his message and begin a listening tour that begins immediately.
Accepting defeat, Bradley Byrne called on all Republicans to unite and help put Bentley in the governor's seat come November. Byrne waged an expensive campaign trying to win the Republican nomination for governor in Alabama. He had the support of key Republicans including the backing of Governor Bob Riley, but it wasn't enough.
Byrne thanked his supporters in defeat, he also congratulated Robert Bentley. In his conversation with Bentley, he is hoping the Republican nominee will carry on his fight against the AEA and Paul Hubbert and their control of state government. In part, he blames the AEA for his defeat.
"That organization is holding this state back, and I would hope that everyone in the Republican Party, beginning with our nominee for governor, would stand up against it, tall straight and strong," said Byrne.
Ron Sparks, the Democratic nominee for governor, released this statement on Tuesday night: "I congratulate Robert Bentley and look forward to the fall campaign. I will continue to focus on those issues that impact the working families of Alabama, and job creation will be my top priority. Voters deserve an election that brings us together, not divides us, and one that focuses on the solutions to our problems. I think my highway jobs program, an education lottery, and my plan to tax and regulate gaming will get Alabama working again and will be the key to winning in November."
Copyright 2010 WBRC. All rights reserved.