Five things you need to know about Bobby Bright

Bobby Bright

The primary elections are over, but some highly sought after spots still remain open due to the primary races resulting in runoffs. One of those races is for the Alabama 2nd Congressional District seat.

Bobby Bright faced-off against Incumbent Martha Roby and three other opponents in the June 5 primary election, Roby and Bright both pulled enough voter support to tip their race into a runoff set for July 17.

Here’s five things you need to know about Bobby Bright before the July runoff:

5. He’s served in this office before, but as a Democrat.

Prior to 2008 Bobby Bright had never claimed affiliation with any party. But that year, he decided to seek election for Alabama’s 2nd District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. When he approached the Republican party about joining the ticket, they told him they intended to support another candidate. So Bright joined the Democratic ticket, and won in 2008, but ultimately the decision to run as a Democrat came back to bite him.

In Congress, Bright was a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, and voted with Democratic leadership only 71.7% of the time which made him the second most conservative member of the House Democratic Caucus. Bright was also named the most conservative Democrat during the first session of the 111th United States Congress by the National Journal.

In 2010, Martha Roby entered the scene and challenged Bright as the Republican nominee. She won.

Flash-forward eight years later, and Bright is back to reclaim his former seat in the House. This time as a Republican. He announced his candidacy in February under the Republican ticket, saying he would be more effective in Washington as a Republican. Later that month, the Alabama Republican Party okayed his decision and let him remain on the ballot.

4. He was mayor of Montgomery for a decade.

Before Bright became the U.S. Rep for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, he served as the mayor of Montgomery for a an entire decade. He was also the first mayor of Montgomery ever to be elected to Congress.

Some of Bright’s most notable achievements during this time include the creation of almost 20,000 jobs, including the jobs added by the arrival of the Hyundai plant in Montgomery during his time in office. He also revitalized  the city’s declining downtown area, and had implemented a rainy day fund of $30 million before he left for Congress.

3. He used to be a lawyer and is married to a former judge.

Bright earned his M.S. in criminal justice from Troy State University in 1977. He went on to own his law practice in Montgomery, where he practiced for fifteen years before entering into politics. He was also chief counsel to the Alabama Department of Corrections (side note, talking about coming full circle: he actually began his career as a corrections officer). He is also married to former District Judge Lynn Bright.

2. Bright was one of 14 children, and grew up on a cotton farm

Bright was the son of a sharecropper, and missed a week of school every year to bring in the cotton harvest. This firsthand knowledge made him a valuable asset on the Agricultural Committee in Congress.

Of all 14 children in his family, Bright was the only one to graduate from college. He attended Auburn University and earned his bachelors degree in 1975. He then proceeded to Troy University, receiving a master’s degree in 1977 and a J.D. from Faulkner University in 1982.

1. He dug his own postholes for his campaign signs.

Bright posted a photo of himself digging postholes for his own 4×8 campaign signs on Facebook, asking supporters to call or message his campaign if they had a suitable place for a sign that large.

Looks like Bright’s years spent on the family’s cotton farm paid off in more ways than one.