Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) decisively defeated former Democrat Rep. Bobby Bright (R-Ala.) Tuesday night in Alabama’s GOP House runoff, overcoming the stigma she had for criticizing President Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign – and proving her current loyalty.
Even though Roby’s opponent claimed to be more of a dedicated Trump ally, she doubled her rival’s votes at the ballot box, with late results showing Roby with 67 percent of the vote, compared to Bright’s 33 percent when The Associated Press called the race with just under half of the precincts reporting.
Proving Trump loyalty
After spending nearly two years convincing Republicans that she has genuinely converted into a die-hard Trump supporter, Roby expressed her gratitude to the White House for backing her bid in the runoff.
“Sincere thanks to President Trump and Vice President Pence,” an emotional Roby proclaimed to applauding backers during her victory speech, according to The Associate Press (AP). “I am so humbled that the people of Alabama’s 2nd district have again placed their trust and their confidence in me.”
About two years after her stiff criticism of Trump, there are apparently no hard feelings in the Oval Office, which went out of its way to push Roby toward victory.
“Trump and Vice President Mike Pence endorsed the four-term incumbent in recent weeks,” AP reported. “The vice president went further over the weekend and recorded robocalls distributed on her behalf saying she’s a reliable vote for the Trump agenda.”
The recent damage control administered by the White House complemented Roby’s years-long effort to garner the support of Trump fans.
“Some intervention was required after Roby angered Alabama Republicans in the closing days of the 2016 presidential election when she said Trump’s lewd comments about women – captured on an Access Hollywood tape – made him unacceptable as a candidate for president,” AP recounted. “She spent much of the last two years trying to convince her constituents in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District that she was sufficiently loyal to Trump.”
In October 2016, Roby declared that she would not vote for Trump – angering a majority of voters in her conservative district, which spurred a number of Republicans to run against her.
“The backlash prompted several primary challengers to oppose Roby in 2018 – Including Bright, who switched parties and became a Republican, campaigning in a red hat with the slogan ‘Make District 2 Bright Again’ emblazoned on the front,” Politico noted. “Bright and the others held Roby to just 39 percent of the vote in June’s GOP primary [next to Bright’s 28 percent] – well short of the majority needed to win the nomination, prompting the one-on-one runoff.”
But Roby continually humbled herself, perhaps recognizing that her temporary criticism of Trump may have constituted political suicide.
“Roby worked to make amends with Trump, praising the president and visiting the White House a half-dozen times in the early months of the administration,” Politico’s Scott Bland explained. “Trump tweeted an endorsement of Roby last month – a move that Roby backers say put the incumbent in early control of the runoff.”
Over the past two years, Roby has proven her allegiance to Trump’s conservative “Make America Great Again” platform, with all of its hot-button issues.
“Roby's campaign has emphasized her history of voting with Trump 97 percent of the time – and how she aligns with him on the issue of immigration,” CNN revealed. “She opposes abortion rights and touts her endorsement from the National Rifle Association (NRA).”
To make sure Republicans were clear about where she stands concerning the president, she took to social media this month before voters headed to the ballot box.
"I've been proud to work w/ my colleagues in Congress & the Trump Admin. over the last year & a half to deliver meaningful results for Americans,” Roby tweeted last Thursday. “I'm grateful to have POTUS' endorsement in this election, & I'm eager to continue fighting for our shared conservative priorities."
Trump galvanizes Roby’s campaign
Even though the backing of Trump – who had overwhelming support in the deep-red district in 2016 – likely contributed to Roby’s landslide victory, not all of the candidates he has endorsed have been guaranteed a win at the polls.
“The president has a mixed record this primary season, having backed a handful of Republican candidates in friendly districts who ultimately lost,” AP pointed out. “The most noteworthy, perhaps, was Alabama’s own Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who earned the president’s strong backing, but suffered an embarrassing loss just eight months ago.”
But Trump’s support of Roby and criticism of Bright left little doubt in most Republicans’ minds this time around that she was destined for victory.
“Despite her past criticism of Trump, the White House eventually emerged as Roby’s most powerful backer,” AP asserted. “Trump called Roby a ‘reliable vote for our Make America Great Again Agenda’ on Twitter and bashed Bright as ‘a recent Nancy Pelosi voting Democrat.’”
Trump was calling Bright out for supporting Nancy Pelosi when he was a Democrat and she was running for House speaker in Congress.
Adding to Trump’s criticism of Bright, Roby also highlighted her rival’s bright blue background while runoff votes were being tallied.
“It just really comes down to one thing – my record versus my opponent’s,” Roby proclaimed just moments before polls closed Tuesday night. “My record is that of a conservative who reflects the conservative principles of the people I represent. My opponent voted for Nancy Pelosi.”