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Establishment Republican beats tea party foe in Alabama primary

WASHINGTON - The primary runoff for a congressional seat in Alabama, seen as a bellwether in the Republican Party's civil war, closed Tuesday with establishment-backed Bradley Byrne overtaking conservative upstart Dean Young, officials said.

Byrne, a former state senator and onetime candidate for governor, was backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, while Young had the support of tea party-aligned groups. Both Republicans are opposed to taxes and President Obama's healthcare law, and intent on reducing the scope of government. But Young portrayed himself resistant to bipartisanship, while Byrne campaigned on the need to fix Washington's dysfunction.

House GOP campaign chief Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) welcomed Byrne as a leader who will "work in a constructive way."

PHOTOS: Election day 2013

Republican elders have tired of the party's tea party wing, but conservative activists often determine primary contests. The Mobile-area district has been in Republican control since the civil rights era, and the winner is expected to easily win the Dec. 17 general election against Democrat Burton LeFlore.

The seat became vacant this summer when former Rep. Jo Bonner, a more traditional Republican, retired to take a position at the University of Alabama.

Byrne had more than 52% of the vote, with more than 47% for Young, according to unofficial results compiled by the Alabama Republican Party.

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