Former Trump critic Rep. Martha Roby wins runoff with president’s help

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July 18, 2018

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Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., prevailed Tuesday in a primary runoff that also pitted two of the 2018 election cycle’s biggest bogeymen against each other: President Trump and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Roby easily defeated former Rep. Bobby Bright, the man she replaced after she was first elected to Congress in the Tea Party wave of 2010, in a dramatic turnaround from the first round of voting in June. Back then, she could not break 40 percent of the vote, much less the majority required to avoid a runoff. On Tuesday night, she won by a 2-1 margin.

Bright had only recently crossed over from the Democratic Party. It is not unusual for a certain generation of Democrats to become Republicans in the Deep South. But Bright’s record is not especially conservative by Southern standards. He voted for Barack Obama for president and Pelosi for speaker, serving one term when Democrats had the majority and passed Obamacare.

Bright was nevertheless able to force Roby into a runoff because she was widely perceived as insufficiently loyal to Trump. In 2016, she called on an “unacceptable” Trump to “step aside” as the Republican nominee after the “Access Hollywood” tape — in which the future president engaged in vulgar “locker room talk” and described groping women — became public.

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