Republican Roby Wins Alabama Primary Run-off Vote With Help of Trump Backing

(Bloomberg) -- Republican Representative Martha Roby won her Alabama primary run-off election Tuesday, beating back a challenger who had criticized her rejection of President Donald Trump during the 2016 election.

Roby’s survival is a boon to the Republican establishment, which moved swiftly to back her in the wake of South Carolina Republican Representative Mark Sanford’s primary defeat last month. It’s also a sign of the president’s influence with his base -- while his rejection of Sanford may have hurt that campaign, his endorsement of Roby last month helped dispel attacks on her loyalty.

The Associated Press declared Roby the winner over former Representative Bobby Bright, who had previously represented the Montgomery-area district as a Democrat. Roby, who failed to win 50 percent of the vote during the June 5 primary election, won 68 percent of the vote Tuesday while Bright won 32 percent, according to the AP.

Bright’s attack ads focused on Roby’s decision to unendorse Trump during the 2016 presidential election. She was one of the first lawmakers to withdraw support for Trump after an "Access Hollywood" video featuring him making derogatory comments about women went public in October 2016.

While Bright’s ads argued Roby abandoned the president "when he needed her most," Trump endorsed her after the primary. In the same message he tried Bright to House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a bogeyman among the Republican base.

"Congresswoman Martha Roby of Alabama has been a consistent and reliable vote for our Make America Great Again Agenda," he wrote in a June 22 tweet. "She is in a Republican Primary run-off against a recent Nancy Pelosi voting Democrat."

Vice President Mike Pence also endorsed Roby, calling her "a strong supporter of tax cuts & President Trump’s pro-growth, America First agenda" in a June 13 Twitter message.

Roby will face Democrat Tabitha Isner, an ordained minister, in the November general election.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.