Undated (WTVY)-- The Republican runoff for Congress in Alabama’s second district is, like other races, ugly. Incumbent Martha Roby and Bobby Bright are trading barbs in their efforts to attract voters.
Roby accuses Bright of being a Democrat. He was. Bright accuses Roby of turning her back on Donald Trump. She did.
Opponents in the 2010 Congressional race, Roby and Bright know each other well. Their history, though, goes back even further to when Bright was Montgomery mayor and Roby a member of the city council.
Bright wanted to move on and, by his account, went to state Republican leaders in late 2007, expressing interest in running for Congress but was told they had their candidate, Jay Love.
Democrats saw a chance with Bright and he joined the party’s ticket, defeating Love in a hard-fought general election.
Bright had a rocky road ahead. After taking office in January 2009 he voted for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House. He said he had little choice since she was the party’s preferred candidate and, if Bright didn’t support her, his district might have suffered political repercussions.
If Pelosi wasn’t a big enough liability there was Barack Obama, arguably the most despised President in Alabama—ever. He, like Bright, was a Democrat though Bright argues their ideology differs greatly.
Bright considered himself a Blue Dog and points to what he calls his conservative voting record. He believes Roby’s claim that he voted with Pelosi 70 percent of the time is deceiving. “Lots of those votes were on non-controversial bills like renaming a small-town post office that both Democrats and Republicans voted for.”
In 2010, Bright’s Democrat label made him vulnerable and Roby knew it. A political unknown outside Montgomery, she ran for the Republican nomination and eked out victory. Her strategy then, like now, was to link Bright with Pelosi and Obama and it worked.
From obscurity, Roby became the district’s first female representative and put the seat back under Republican control where it had been, except for Bright, since 1965.
She easily won re-election in 2012 and 2014 and it appeared Roby would cruise to her fourth term two years ago. Things, though, changed when she announced that she would not support Trump, then an underdog to Hillary Clinton.
Roby’s logic was, to do so, would condone Trump’s conduct if, as alleged, he groped women against their will. Roby said it would send the wrong message to her young daughter.
Republicans in south Alabama were livid, and Roby almost lost to a Democrat with little name recognition and even less campaign money. In fact, she failed to receive a majority of the general election vote because over 10 percent of votes were write-ins.
Just like Roby smelled Bright’s political blood in 2010, he smelled hers this year and, like others, considered her vulnerable. Beyond that, Bright was antsy on the family farm and wanted to return to politics. This time he’s running as a Republican.
Roby, though, patched things up with Trump and became a staunch supporter of the President and his agenda. Many angered Republicans forgave her political transgression, and, during the June primary, she finished first among a field of five candidates with 39 percent of the vote.
Bright points out that 61 percent of voters opposed her and predicts there’s still enough people dissatisfied with Roby that he’ll win next Tuesday’s runoff.
However, Roby’s support, compared to 2014, has surged. The Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce recently honored her legislative work and, last week, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) traveled to Alabama to essentially campaign for Martha Roby. Then she received a coveted endorsement---from President Trump.
Bright is unfazed, pointing out the President also endorsed two other candidates in Alabama, Senate hopefuls Luther Strange and Roy Moore. Both lost.