Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism

Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism
© Greg Nash

Rep. Martha RobyMartha Dubina RobyDem House candidate claims Russians tried to hack campaign website Tag Obama for the rise of Trump, and now, socialism Trump: My endorsement opened 'flood gates' for Roby MORE is projected to win Alabama’s GOP primary runoff in the state’s 2nd District, overcoming the blowback from her past criticism of President TrumpDonald John TrumpArizona GOP Senate candidate defends bus tour with far-right activist Alyssa Milano protests Kavanaugh in 'Handmaid's Tale' costume Bomb in deadly Yemen school bus attack was manufactured by US firm: report MORE during the 2016 election after earning his endorsement.

Roby defeated former Rep. Bobby Bright, a Democrat-turned Republican whom she unseated in 2010. The Associated Press called the race about 9:30 p.m. ET. With all precincts reporting by 10:30 p.m., Roby led Bright by 68-32 percent.

Roby was forced into the runoff with Bright after failing to clinch the 50 percent needed in the June GOP primary.

The four-term congresswoman has continued to face Republican backlash since declaring in 2016 she wouldn’t vote for Trump after the “Access Hollywood” tape scandal where he was heard bragging about kissing and groping women without consent.

But Roby went into Tuesday’s runoff favored to win especially after Trump endorsed her last month and key Washington allies ran ads on her behalf. She also heavily outraised and outspent Bright.

Roby has sought to come back from her Trump criticism as a fervent supporter of the president’s agenda, voting with him 96.5 percent of the time, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis.

Outside groups also spent on behalf of Roby to boost her ahead of the runoff. The influential business-friendly U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent nearly $200,000 on ads that in part criticized Bright for his past vote for House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiPelosi mocks McCarthy for tweet complaining of censorship Democrats should trade in identity politics for more inclusive policies Three scenarios for how leadership races could play out in the House MORE (D-Calif.) as Speaker. However, Bright defended it as a "procedural" vote.

And Winning For Women, a GOP group that backs female candidates who support free-market policies and national security, started running five-figure digital ads for Roby back in April, focusing on her conservative record.

Roby’s win delivers Trump some validation after the president previously backed candidates in Alabama who went on to lose their races.

In last year’s special Senate election, Trump endorsed Sen. Luther StrangeLuther Johnson StrangeThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump to GOP: I will carry you GOP strategist: Trump will be anchor around Republicans' necks in general election Trump: I ‘destroy' careers of Republicans who say bad things about me MORE (R-Ala.), who lost the GOP nomination to former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreEx-Sheriff David Clarke describes how he would have stopped anti-fascists in 1930s Germany on 'Who is America' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump to GOP: I will carry you GOP strategist: Trump will be anchor around Republicans' necks in general election MORE.

Trump backed Moore in the general election, but the former judge lost to now-Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) in the deep-red state after allegations surfaced that Moore had pursued romantic and sexual relationships with women decades his junior.

Roby will go on to face Democrat Tabitha Isner, a business analyst and first-time candidate, in November. But Roby is expected to easily win since Trump won her district by more than 30 points.