In Alabama’s second district, local tea party activists held a “no-show townhall” with a mannequin of their Democratic Representative, Bobby Bright, because Bright refused to hold a town hall meeting himself. Then, the activists took a microphone and spoke to the mannequin.
That’s not the kind of thing you want going into a vulnerable re-election cycle, as Bright is this November.
“He’s a nice person. He has a wonderful staff. But I don’t think he is a good leader, at all,” said Becky Gerritson, a local tea party activist, who was present at the event. Gerritson complained that Bright, a Democrat who is representing a +16 Republican district, has ridden the fence on every vote he has taken. Bright voted against the health care bill, but in statements afterward, refused to advocate repeal, saying there were "some good parts, many of which will go into effect soon." Bright voted against the stimulus packages, because there was no way he could vote for them in such a fiscally conservative area.
“He has never stood up and spoke out against cap-and-trade. or health care. Yes, he voted no on health care, but he never took a position. And he never met with us. He wouldn’t hold any town hall meetings,” said Gerritson.
Bright did hold a series of infamous “Congressman on the Corner” events, where he would show up at a small local venues that could hold maybe a few dozen people, speak for a short period of time, and then bolt. But that did no justice for the legions of activists that were lobbying for his attention. Rick Barber, one of the two Republican candidates in the GOP primary runoff to defeat Bright this fall, called the events “pretty corny.
“He would find small companies to bounce around to, several a day, but they were always very, very small, where you couldn’t get more than 30 or 40 people,” said Barber. “He would stay for an hour, talk for 45 minutes, and then, oh, he had to go.”
Barber pointed out that Bright won by a margin of .06% last fall – and that was only after a season of heavily negative campaigning. Before Bright, a Republican had represented the second district since 1964.
“He doesn’t have the environmental factors for him,” said Barber. “There’s not a president running, I don’t think you’re going to have the massive Democratic turnout.”
Martha Roby, the other GOP candidate running to replace Bright, had similar thoughts.
“Alabama is a conservative state, the 2nd district is a conservative district, and our conservative voices are not being heard. That’s where we feel Bright has failed us.
Roby, a city councilwoman, was trailing Bright 54 percent to 30 percent in an early March poll, but the GOP is waiting to see what happens to that lead after the primary is over and Republican opposition is solidified.Correction: This article originally stated that Bright voted to let the health care bill out of Committee. That was incorrect.