Alabama Rep. Martha Roby survived her Republican primary runoff Tuesday night, rebounding from her sharp criticism of President Donald Trump in 2016 that sparked several challenges this year.
With 47 percent of precincts reporting, Roby led with 67 percent of the vote to 33 percent for party-switching former Rep. Bobby Bright, when The Associated Press called the 2nd District race.
Bright, who served a term in Congress as a Democrat before losing to Roby in 2010, took heat for previously voting for Nancy Pelosi for speaker.
Roby had originally looked in danger of losing in the primary after she drew several GOP challengers. She sparked a backlash from Alabama Republicans in 2016 after she joined a slew of GOP lawmakers in declaring she would not vote for Trump after the leak of the Access Hollywood tape, in which the GOP candidate bragged about grabbing women by the genitals.
She won a fourth term that fall by just 9 points, with a last-minute anti-Roby write-in campaign taking 11 percent of the vote.
After careful efforts to improve her working relationship with the White House and to remind voters of her conservative credentials, Roby won Trump’s endorsement last month. But it didn’t come until after after she was forced into the runoff, following her failure to win a majority of the GOP primary vote on June 5.
Roby did have some help from outside groups in her race against Bright. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was up on television supporting her. Winning for Women, a group backing Republican female candidates, also invested in digital ads on her behalf.
Roby will be the heavy favorite in the fall against Democratic business analyst Tabitha Isner. Trump carried the 2nd District, which stretches from the Montgomery metropolitan area to southeastern Alabama’s wiregrass region, by 32 points in 2016.
Two of the most prominent Democratic socialists in the country see an opportunity to exert their influence in an unlikely place: deep-red Kansas.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, the 76-year-old senator from Vermont, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Democratic candidate from the Bronx who knocked off longtime Rep. Joe Crowley in their New York primary last month, are headed to the western Kansas City suburbs Friday to rally Democrats ahead of the state's August 7 primaries.
Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez will anchor a nighttime rally for Brent Welder, a labor lawyer who’s running in the crowded Democratic primary in the 3rd District for the opportunity to square off against GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder.
America’s heartland is an unusual place for any political movement with the word “socialist” attached to it to take its message.
President Donald Trump won Kansas by more than 20 points in 2016.
But progressives see potential avenues in the state’s 2nd and 3rd Districts to take down moderate Democrats in the August primary and compete against incumbent GOP Rep. Lynn Jenkins and Yoder in November.
Hillary Clinton narrowly edged Trump in Yoder’s 3rd District in 2016. And Democrats have seen more than 20-point swings in special elections in some states and districts over the last year and a half, including in Kansas’ 4th District.
Liberals have argued that to win some of the more difficult races on Democrats’ target list, they’ll have to drum up support not just from traditional voter bases but new voters who lean more progressive.
“If you’re going to flip the district, you have to get new people involved in the political process,” Sanders spokesman Josh Miller-Lewis told The Associated Press. “There are so many people not involved.”
At least one GOP consultant indicated Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez’s trip to Kansas is indicative of a broader trend in grassroots politics of candidates penetrating nontraditional areas of the electorate to deliver messages of change.
“They think they're leaders of a movement, and they are leaders of a movement,” the consultant said of Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez. “It’s as interesting as Ted Cruz and Donald Trump going to all 50 states during the 2016 campaign to make the case that they can be the ones to change their party” to advocate for the forgotten person's political needs.
“The only way [Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez] are going to get the change they want is to get not just people in New York but people in Kansas to agree with them,” the consultant said.
The pair will also stump in Wichita for James Thompson, a civil rights lawyer running in Kansas’ 4th District. Thompson lost by 6 points in a 2017 special election to Rep. Ron Estes, just months after Trump thrashed Clinton in the district by 27 points.
Inside Elections rates that race Solid Republican.
— Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.Watch: Democratic Candidates Raise Millions in Second Quarter Fundraising