Bradley Byrne worthy of GOP nod

Our View

Bradley Byrne’s ambitious vision for the state of Alabama makes him the best choice for Republican voters selecting their nominee for governor in the runoff election next Tuesday.

For too long, politics in this state have been dictated by narrow-minded special interests in Montgomery, who wield a disturbing amount of power over our elected officials.

Bradley Byrne is the rare candidate who not only publicly bemoans these special interests, but also possesses the passion and determination that will be necessary to overcome their influence once in office.

Editorial Board

No interest group has had a more corrupting impact on our state than the Alabama Education Association (AEA) and its leader, Paul Hubbert. Byrne has an especially strong track record of fighting, and defeating, the AEA. As chancellor of the two-year college system, he banned double dipping by legislators who were also getting paid to work at community colleges. He replaced college presidents and other administrators, and left the system in a better position to educate its students.

As governor, Byrne would be free to pursue similarly meaningful reforms across the entire spectrum of our education system. He has already laid out a comprehensive education reform plan that calls for making some of the most sweeping changes to Alabama schools in history. Through the implementation of a charter school law, tenure reform, and a more transparent system for measuring and reporting school performance, Byrne would reorient the focus of our K-12 schools. Rather than focusing on inputs, like the number of teacher units and the amount of money schools receive, Byrne’s plan focuses on outputs, such as student achievement and graduation rates.

Education reform is important to this state. There are students at this university who will not graduate because they are a product of a failing school in Alabama and were not prepared for the challenge of college in high school.

Furthermore, sustaining the great gains we have made in recent years in economic development will require having an educated workforce and a high quality school system.

Bradley Byrne understands this. That is why he is so passionate about fighting the AEA. Luckily, his ethics reform plan will also tame the power of the many other special interests in Montgomery by restricting their ability to game the campaign finance system and funnel money to candidates without disclosing where that money is coming from.

While the erratic tone and sporadic negativity of Byrne’s campaign have not always brought out his full potential to be a transformative governor, Bradley Byrne has proven his leadership capabilities through many years of service to the people of Alabama, first as a member of the State Board of Education, then as a state senator, and most recently as chancellor of the community colleges.

Byrne’s runoff opponent, Robert Bentley of Tuscaloosa, is a good man with earnest intentions. It is, however, hard to imagine the state changing much under his leadership. Given the challenges we face, Alabama needs a proven reformer. Republicans have the opportunity to nominate such a candidate Tuesday in Bradley Byrne.

In short: Given the magnitude of the challenges we face as a state, Bradley Byrne’s long record of service and ambitious vision for Alabama make him the best candidate for Republicans choosing their party’s nominee for governor in the primary runoff on Tuesday.

Our View is the consensus opinion of The Crimson White’s Editorial Board.