Updated 3:01 p.m. | Roy Moore’s former campaign manager Rich Hobson announced Wednesday that he is launching a primary challenge against Alabama GOP Rep. Martha Roby.
Hobson announced Tuesday that he will make an “important announcement” on the steps of the state Capitol at 10 a.m. Central Time on Wednesday morning. But he told NBC shortly before the announcement that he is planning to run against Roby.
In a phone interview Wednesday afternoon following his earlier announcement in Montgomery, Hobson said, if elected, he would be an ally for President DonalD Trump.
“I believe in our president, Donald Trump, and his goal to make America great again. And President Trump needs congressmen who will support him and back him,” Hobson said.
Hobson declined to directly address Roby when pressed on whether he meant that Roby did not support Trump. He said there are several months before the June 5 primary to debate those issues.
Hobson did say he expected Moore to lend his support to Hobson’s congressional campaign.
Roby and the rest of the Republicans in the Alabama House delegation issued a joint statement backing Moore when he became the nominee. Roby did not revoke her endorsement after allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore surfaced, but she also did not comment on the allegations.
The allegations rocked the race and included accusations of inappropriate sexual advances and sexual assault. Hobson was not worried his ties to Moore would hurt his campaign.
“I am not concerned at all. I believe Judge Roy Moore. I do not believe the allegations. They are lies,” Hobson said. He hoped Moore would work to clear his name and bring defamation suits against Moore’s accusers.
Hobson, who worked for Moore when he was on the state Supreme Court, has been rumored as a potential congressional candidate in recent weeks. Al.com reported in November that Hobson purchased web domain names including hobsonforcongress.org and richhobson2018.info that suggested an imminent run. At the time Hobson said he was focused on the Senate race.
Hobson said he had decided roughly one year ago that he wanted to run for Congress, and had to figure out timing with running Moore’s campaign. His platform — bolstering the military, reining in federal spending, and “returning to prayer” — was very similar to Moore’s top issues in his Senate campaign.
Hobson, who knew Moore before he became administrative director of the Alabama Judicial System while Moore was on the Supreme Court, said he and Moore share similar values.
Hobson also ran Moore’s non-profit, the Foundation for Moral Law. A Washington Post investigation found discrepancies about Moore’s compensation at the group, prompting allegations he profited off of the charity. Moore’s campaign denied the allegations and called the Post story “fake news.”
Moore lost the Senate race to Democrat Doug Jones, but won 10 of the 15 counties in Roby’s district in southeastern Alabama, known as the wiregrass region. Moore held an election eve rally with former White House adviser Steve Bannon in Midland City, also in Roby’s district. Hobson served as emcee for the event.
Roby has already drawn two primary challengers, state Rep. Barry Moore and Army veteran Tommy Amason. Amason has argued she is not conservative enough to represent the district, and Barry Moore has said she was not supportive of President Donald Trump. Roby was one of several lawmakers who said she would not vote for Trump after a tape emerged showing Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women.
Trump won the 2nd District by 32 points in 2016, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections. Roby, who served on the Montgomery City Council before running for Congress in 2010, won re-election to a fourth term by 9 points.
Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Solid Republican.