Martha Roby Survives GOP Primary Runoff in Alabama

Onetime Trump critic defeated ex-Democrat Bobby Bright

Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., fended off a primary challenge from party-switching former Rep. Bobby Bright, whom she defeated in 2010. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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. 

Roby won 68 percent of the vote compared to 32 percent for party-switching former Rep. Bobby Bright, according to The Associated Press’ vote count in 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.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Solid Republican.

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