Former state Sen. Bradley Byrne and businessman Dean Young advanced to a runoff in Alabama's 1st District on Tuesday night, emerging from a crowded GOP special-election primary.
Byrne — who lost a GOP primary for governor in Alabama in 2010 — received 33 percent, while Young received 25 percent, with 61 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press.
Both will face off in a Nov. 5 GOP runoff election, which is expected to pick the district's next member of Congress in this conservative House district.
Republicans widely expected a runoff in this nine-candidate GOP primary field to replace former Rep. Jo Bonner, the Republican who resigned in August to take a job with the University of Alabama system.
Alabama election law stipulates that a candidate must receive at least 50 percent of the vote to win an election outright, otherwise a runoff election is required. With nine candidates jockeying for the seat, surpassing that threshold was nearly impossible.
Byrne was expected to receive the most votes, as he raised the most money and had the highest name recognition among the field.
However the second-place spot was a tossup between four Republican hopefuls: former Republican National Committee aide Wells Griffith, state Rep. Chad Fincher, newspaper columnist Quin Hillyer and Young.
Republican operatives have described Young as a popular candidate among the more rural parts of the southwestern Alabama district. Young made news this cycle when he told a local TV station that he is, “Against homosexuals pretending like they’re married. If you want to have homosexuals pretending like they’re married, then go to the Democrat party.”
Whoever wins the GOP runoff will face the Democratic nominee, Burton LeFlore, on Dec. 17.
Alabama’s 1st District race is rated a Safe Republican contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.