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Beltway Confidential

K Street shadow boxing Tea Party in Alabama

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Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney,Tea Party,Alabama,Lobbying

The Empire is striking back in an Alabama congressional race, according to the media narrative. The only problem is that the Empire is winning a fight in which the Rebel Alliance never showed up.

According to the New York Times, the special election tonight in Alabama's 1st congressional district is a battle between Big Business and the Tea Party -- the K Street Wing versus the Tea Party Wing, to use my frame.

The Times calls underdog Dean Young "the Tea Party-backed businessman," describes the race as an "intraparty fight," and even invokes Ted Cruz.

But here's the thing: while plenty of Big Business money is pouring in to support frontrunner Bradley Byrne, no outside groups are spending to help Dean Young.

Actual Tea Party vs. K Street fights pit lobbyists, the Chamber and business PACs against the Club for Growth, Heritage Action, the Senate Conservatives Fund and Freedomworks. But none of those Cruz-aligned "Tea Party" groups are involved in this race. Not a single penny of outside spending has come in against Byrne or for Dean according to my search of the Federal Election Commission's website.

So it's K Street against nobody in Mobile.

Byrne's Big Business backers are perfectly happy to embrace the Times' framing of this as the first K Street-Tea Party fight since the shutdown — because it allows them to declare victory over the Tea Party if Byrne wins. In reality, it shows that when Big Business has no opponent, it wins Republican primaries — which we already knew, I think.

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