‘Bama Runoff Pits Ardent Creationist Against Possible Military-Record Fibber

Today’s Republican gubernatorial runoff in Alabama features two candidates, Robert Bentley and Bradley Byrne, who each failed to win 30% of the vote in the primary, and who have both had to deal with their own versions of this year’s quintessential political scandals: military fibbing and not being conservative enough.In May, Byrne fought off charges that he wasn’t conservative enough with an emphatic “I am too.” When a teachers-union-backed PAC attacked Byrne by saying that he supported the teaching of evolution in schools Byrne defended himself, at length, by insisting on his belief in creationism and the infallible truth of the Bible. (Watch the ad Byrne cut in response here.)

Meanwhile, Bentley came under scrutiny a few weeks ago for his portrayal of his service during Vietnam. A campaign ad describing his time as a military doctor at a base in North Carolina during the Vietnam War featured a photo caption that read “Hospital Commander Vietnam War” while a narrator said Bentley “served his country, and healed troops wounded in Vietnam.” In reaction to the ad, Wayne Reynolds, the president of the Alabama chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America, asked Bentley to clarify what he meant. Yesterday, it was reported that Reynolds had given $150 to Byrne’s campaign, and that he had asked for the money back.

Byrne boasts the support of Gov. Bob Riley (R) — though Riley stopped short of a formal endorsement — as well as Reps. Spencer Bachus and Jo Bonner. Yet a poll released last week by Public Strategy Associates showed Bentley with a sizable lead over Byrne — 53-33 — even after Byne’s nominal ‘victory’ in the primary.

“On Tuesday you’ll witness one of the most extraordinary upsets of 2010 when Dr. Robert Bentley defeats Mr. Establishment Bradley Byrne,” Bentley spokesperson Bryan Sanders told TPM.

On top of all this, turnout is expected to be low. So low, in fact, that some have even suggested the door is open for Democrat crossover voting to affect the outcome.