Birmingham-- Across the country, congressional democrats are at risk of losing their seats in next week's election, thanks to anti-incumbent fervor. In Alabama's 2nd Congressional District, polls put incumbent democrat Bobby Bright ahead of his republican challenger Marthy Roby. But some pundits say it could be a toss-up. As WBHM intern Weston Williams reports, Bright is walking a fine line between the principles of his Party and the conservative values of voters, while Roby is presenting herself as a fresh face for the district.
All around the country, voters seem to be turning away from incumbent Democrats, making holding on to a seat in Congress difficult, especially in Alabama, where conservatives generally run the show. In District Two, however, democratic incumbent Bobby Bright is neck in neck with republican challenger Martha Roby.
"I truly believe that people right now that people right now are so fed up with a congress that is lecturing them on what they think they need as opposed to listening to us and what our real needs are."
This seems to be the attitude shared by most conservatives, which would usually be bad for an incumbent democrat. However, Bobby Bright somehow manages to get the conservative vote as well. Take this political ad from Bright's campaign.
Bobby Bright has a different take on the issues than most democrats. He's pro-gun rights, and against the current health care reform, just like most Republicans. But for Congressman Bright, not being tied to the party label is a good thing.
"What will be jeopardized, if I am not reelected, is the fact that you've got centrist conservatives like me, who are willing to reach across that aisle, to work with republicans to make good things happen for our country, instead of people who go to Washington and toe their line for their party. They're like a rubber stamp for their party. It's horrible, it's horrendous, it's wrong, and people need to wake up."
Sebastian Kitchen covers the race for the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper. He points out that Bright's willingness to vote across party lines lands him on the same side as Roby on many issues.
"On the issues, I don't think people will see a lot of difference."
And it's little wonder why. Consider these two political ads:
Both messages seem similar in content, but Martha Roby is quick to point out differences in the approach she feels Congressman Bright takes to get things done.
"Bobby Bright says he's opposed to health care, yet when given an opportunity to vote in favor of the republican substitute that offers real healthcare reform based on free market principles, and I could go through the laundry list; he doesn't vote for that. He seems to be on the fence."
Bright says he won't vote for Nancy Pelosi again--but also points out that he won't vote for the Republican minority leader either.
"I will not vote for John Boehner, the minority leader for the Republican Party. You know why? Leadership starts with bringing factions together, and both of them over the last two decades have divided Congress more than I think it's been divided since the Civil War."
Reaching across party lines in the District Two race may not be enough. When candidates have such similar platforms, one of the biggest determining factors for voters may be whether the candidate has "Republican" or "Democrat" by their name on the ballot next week.
~ Weston Williams, October 27, 2010