Representative Martha Roby of Alabama will fight to keep her congressional seat this fall. The four-term Republican congresswoman won the runoff election in Alabama’s second district Tuesday against Bobby Bright with about 68% of the vote. She’ll face Democrat Tabitha Isner in the November election.
Rep. Roby has had an uneasy relationship with President Trump, after calling on him to drop out of the election following the release of the Access Hollywood tape. But she has a consistent conservative voting record in Congress, and that ultimately lead to a June endorsement from the commander-in-chief.
The president tweeted congratulations to Rep. Roby early Wednesday.
“Congratulations to Martha Roby of The Great State of Alabama on her big GOP Primary win for Congress. My endorsement came appropriately late, but when it came the “flood gates” opened and you had the kind of landslide victory that you deserve. Enjoy!”
Vice President Pence also tweeted his support. “Congrats to Martha Roby on her primary WIN last night! @realDonaldTrump and I are with you. She’ll continue to be a champion for the Trump pro-growth agenda for the people of Alabama. @TeamRoby”
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Rep. Roby Ultimately Did Not Personally Support Donald Trump in 2016, a Fact Her Primary Opponent Hammered to Voters
Rep. Roby withdrew her support for then-candidate Trump after the release of the Access Hollywood tape in October 2016. She stressed in interviews that she was not actively campaigning against Trump; the decision was a personal one and she was not trying to tell her constituents how to vote.
In the interview above, Rep. Roby explained her decision: “When the [Access Hollywood] video aired, it became clear to me I could no longer justify a vote for Donald Trump. This disgusting behavior, this boasting and admittance of grabbing women’s private parts, was enough for me…
I want to win this White House. I do not want Hillary Clinton to be president of the United States.But I cannot look my children in the eye and justify a vote for a man who promotes and boasts about sexually assaulting women.”
Primary opponent Bobby Bright, who previously served as a congressional Democrat and supported Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker, questioned Roby’s loyalty to the president during the primary campaign. Bright later switched to the Republican Party and rebranded himself as a Trump ally. In this primary election, he questioned whether voters could trust Roby not to turn on the president again. But ultimately, those criticisms were not enough to secure Bright a victory.
2. Trump’s June Endorsement Gave Roby’s Campaign a Much-Needed Boost
Rep. Martha Roby angered many Republican voters in Alabama’s second district when she distanced herself from Trump following the Access Hollywood tape. Trump won that district by 32 points in 2016. That year, Roby also won re-election but by a much smaller margin of 9 points. She has spent the last two years promoting her conservative voting record in an effort to rebuild credibility with her constituents.
That ongoing battle was apparent in the June primary. Rep. Roby failed to win a majority of the vote against a crowded field of challengers, which sparked the runoff against runner-up Bobby Bright. But a late endorsement from President Trump apparently resonated greatly with voters, especially since he also bashed Bobby Bright in the same tweet.
“Congresswoman Martha Roby of Alabama has been a consistent and reliable vote for our Make America Great Again Agenda. She is in a Republican Primary run-off against a recent Nancy Pelosi voting Democrat. I fully endorse Martha for Alabama 2nd Congressional District!”
Rep. Roby won 68% of the vote in the July 17th runoff. She is considered the clear front-runner against Democratic challenger Tabitha Isner going into the November election.
In a tweet following the victory, Rep. Roby stressed her desire to keep working with the Trump administration. “It has been a privilege to be a part of the conservative momentum & to work alongside my colleagues in Congress & the Trump Admin. to push some very important priorities over the finish line. We’re in a unique position to accomplish even more, & I’m eager to continue the fight.”
3. Rep. Roby Has Voted With President Trump More Than 96% of the Time
According to an analysis by FiveThirtyEight, Rep. Martha Roby agrees with the Trump administration on nearly every issue. She has voted in line with his positions 96.5% of the time since he took office.
Sone of the key issues Rep. Roby supported that are in line with the Trump administration have included:
– The tax code overhaul
– Repealing the Affordable Care Act
– Rolling back some bank regulations put in place by the Dodd-Frank Act
– SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act to address the opioid crisis; provisions include requiring coverage for services provided by certified opioid treatment programs and required the examination of new Medicare enrollees to include an opioid use disorder screening
– The 2018 House Farm Bill; one of its more controversial aspects is that it would reduce funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps roughly 40 million Americans buy food and provides school lunches to children
4. Rep. Roby Voted Against the Compromise Immigration Bill Supported by the Trump Administration
The Border Security and Immigration Reform Act failed to pass the House in June, with 112 Republicans joining the Democrats to vote against it. The bill would have provided nearly $24 billion to build a border wall, limited chain migration and eliminated the visa lottery system. It also allowed a way for Dreamers to become citizens.
The Trump administration’s memo supporting the bill stated that it would help achieve its goals of “securing the border, closing legal loopholes, moving to a system of merit-based immigration, and providing a responsible solution to DACA.”
The president also tweeted his support for the bill on June 27, using all caps. “HOUSE REPUBLICANS SHOULD PASS THE STRONG BUT FAIR IMMIGRATION BILL, KNOWN AS GOODLATTE II, IN THEIR AFTERNOON VOTE TODAY, EVEN THOUGH THE DEMS WON’T LET IT PASS IN THE SENATE. PASSAGE WILL SHOW THAT WE WANT STRONG BORDERS & SECURITY WHILE THE DEMS WANT OPEN BORDERS = CRIME. WIN!”
Rep. Roby did not publicly comment about her decision to vote against the bill, or issue any statements on social media. She and her colleagues who voted against the compromise were issued a rebuke from more moderate members of the caucus. Among them was Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Republican from Florida. He said after the vote, “What we witnessed today was a minority of Republicans joining every Democrat in the House to double down on a failed, broken, inefficient, unfair and at times cruel immigration system. They prefer the petty politics of immigration instead of the solutions for immigration.”
5. Rep. Roby is a Proud Supporter of the Second Amendment But Disagrees with the President About on a Debate Over Whether to Allow Concealed Carry Permits Across State Lines
In the lead-up to the July 17 runoff election, Rep. Roby reminded voters of her commitment to the second amendment and promoted the NRA’s endorsement of her campaign. She tweeted, “I’m a gun owner, & I’ve always staunchly defended #2A when the liberal establishment has attempted to undermine it. I’m grateful to have the endorsement of the NRA in my campaign for reelection in AL02, & I will continue to fight for our constitutional right to keep & bear arms.”
Her voting record in Congress backs up this claim. In December 2017, she voted in favor of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. The controversial bill would make concealed-carry firearm permits valid across state lines. It was combined with another measure that would strengthen background check requirements for gun purchases.
The bill has gone nowhere in the Senate. And in February, President Trump indicated he would not support the version that would not support the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. Instead, he would only support the narrower bill co-sponsored by Texas senator John Cornyn, which would bolster background checks.