Alabama congresswoman wins run-off despite lingering Trump loyalty questions
Martha Roby triumphed despite previous criticism of the president during his 2016 candidacy.
US congresswoman Martha Roby has won Alabama’s Republican run-off in a mid-term contest that hinged on loyalty to Donald Trump, despite fallout from her previous criticism of the US president.
The four-term incumbent will now represent the Republicans on the November ballot, having defeated Bobby Bright, a former Democrat who tried to cast himself as the more authentic Trump ally in the low-turnout Republican contest.
The Trump White House was on Ms Roby’s side.
She told supporters: “It’s been a true privilege to have the support of the White House through this campaign.
“I am so humbled that the people of Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District have again placed their trust and their confidence in me.”
Mr Trump and US vice president Mike Pence endorsed Ms Roby in recent weeks. Mr Pence went further over the weekend and recorded automated calls distributed on her behalf, saying she is a reliable vote for the Trump agenda.
Some intervention was required after Ms Roby angered Alabama Republicans in the closing days of the 2016 presidential election when she said Mr Trump’s lewd comments about women – captured on an Access Hollywood tape – made him unacceptable as a candidate for president.
She has spent much of the last two years trying to convince her constituents in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District that she is sufficiently loyal to the president.
Mr Trump’s support did not guarantee a victory, even in a deep-red district that overwhelmingly backed him two years ago. The president has a mixed record this primary season, having backed a handful of Republican candidates in friendly districts who ultimately lost.
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.
Voters indicated they were willing to move past Ms Roby’s criticism of Mr Trump.
Ms Roby faced the run-off test because she earned only 39% of the vote in the first primary contest back in June. Mr Bright was the second-place finisher.
I’m honored & humbled that the people of AL-02 have again placed their trust & confidence in me, & that I will have the opportunity to continue to do this job on their behalf. Thank you to each person who went out to the polls today to support me. pic.twitter.com/hOfL6MxAGY— Martha Roby (@TeamRoby) July 18, 2018
Despite her past criticism of Mr Trump, the White House eventually emerged as Ms Roby’s most powerful backer.
Mr Trump called Ms Roby a “reliable vote for our Make America Great Again Agenda” on Twitter, and excoriated Mr Bright for being “a recent Nancy Pelosi-voting Democrat”.
The president was referring to Mr Bright’s support of Ms Pelosi’s bid to become House speaker when he was a Democrat in congress.
Ms Roby made clear she would return the favour should she win re-election in November, as widely expected in a heavily Republican state. She will face Democrat Tabitha Isner, a political newcomer.