Four-term U.S. Representatives typically don’t find themselves facing several viable primary opponents, but those were the days prior to Donald Trump and newfound Republicans who have, at least temporarily, caused a rewrite of the political playbook.
Martha Roby, who has been a solid conservative vote in Congress, found herself sideways with some of her electoral base two years ago when the “Access Hollywood” videotape was released of Trump using crude sexual language to describe women. In reference to the tape Roby said, “Donald Trump’s behavior makes him unacceptable as a candidate for President, and I won’t vote for him. As disappointed as I’ve been with his antics throughout this campaign, I thought supporting the nominee was the best thing for our country and our party. Now, it is abundantly clear that the best thing for our country and our party is for Trump to step aside and allow a responsible, respectable Republican to lead the ticket.”
Well, that was then and this is now. Roby, by no means a political novice, made nice with President Trump, but that hasn’t prevented a crowded field of GOP opponents seizing on the opportunity to take her out this election cycle.
Roby, who survived a reelection scare in 2016 after her Trump remarks, is being challenged by State Representative Barry Moore, Roy Moore loyalist Rich Hobson and former Montgomery Mayor and Congressman Bobby Bright, who qualified last minute to run as a Republican.
Bright, who lost to Roby in the 2010 general election after serving one-term in Congress, as a Democrat, has been off the radar for much of the past seven years. But that hasn’t prevented him from being the likeliest of Roby’s challengers to force her into a runoff.
Both Moore and Hobson appear to be soliciting from the same pool of voters. Moore, a two-term legislator who was indicted and acquitted on four felony charges of providing false testimony to a grand jury, is a Trump loyalist. Hobson, the former sidekick of Roy Moore, recently made news with his campaign give away of an AR 15 assault rifle this Memorial Day, a week after another deadly school shooting and the weapon of choice in many of the mass shootings recently experienced around the county.
Roby is the logical choice of the GOP candidates to send back to Washington. Why wouldn’t voters want someone in Congress willing to speak out against something as terrible as what the President said? And her seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee has proven advantageous for the State. She was instrumental in the Alabama National Guard’s 187th Fighter Wing being selected for the Air Force’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter mission. A boon for the Montgomery area economy.
Roby is still the darling of the Chamber of Commerce crowd and has far outpaced her opposition in fundraising having raised over a million dollars, followed by Bright who has about a third of Roby’s haul. Neither Moore nor Hobson have crossed the $100 thousand fundraising threshold.
Two Democrats, Audri Scott Williams and Tabitha Isner, will faceoff on the Democratic side. Isner, a pastor’s wife and early childhood policy expert, lives in Montgomery and has been pounding the campaign pavement for over a year. Her hard work has yielded some fundraising success to the tune of around $150 thousand and the majority of endorsements from typical Democratic allies.
That amount of fundraising is impressive for any Alabama Democrat running for Congress in a heavy Republican district. Isner has also impressed and received the support of national Democrats who have identified Roby’s seat as one that could possibly turn blue in the 2018 mid-term elections.
My political crystal ball doesn’t see a path to victory for any Democrat to represent Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District anytime soon, but don’t tell Isner, because a strong two-party system is the shot of adrenaline Alabama’s political landscape so badly needs. And I will always advocate for more people, not fewer, get involved in politics from any and all persuasions. Especially candidates like Tabitha Isner, whose candidacy has already had a positive influence on our community.
Depending on which primary ballot you will be marking on Tuesday, June 5th. . Roby and Isner are both deserving of your vote.