With a campaign treasury befitting a favorite of many congressional leaders, Ms. Roby is expected to spend the weeks before the runoff on television, hammering away at Mr. Bright’s history as a Democrat and emphasizing her voting record, in which few of her detractors find much fault.
A spokeswoman for Ms. Roby, Emily Taylor, said that the congresswoman has “a shared conservative agenda with the Trump administration” and that “she wants nothing more than for the president to be successful.”
Mr. Bright, whose campaign produced a video asserting that Ms. Roby “turned her back on President Trump when he needed her most,” is not buying it. “She’s doing it to try to make amends,” he said in an interview.
Although a recycled sign at his campaign office near Montgomery bore a union label — a relic, he said, of his bygone days as a Democrat — Mr. Bright is trying both to persuade voters that he is the most favorable to Mr. Trump’s agenda and to explain his past support for Ms. Pelosi, the House Democratic leader. Ms. Roby makes for a ready-made foil.
“She injected her personal political beliefs over those of her constituents, and that’s what the people resent,” Mr. Bright said, as he repeatedly championed Mr. Trump while insisting that he did not condone any personal misconduct.
There is little dispute that Ms. Roby, whose spokeswoman said she was unavailable for comment for this article, would be on safer ground now if she had held back in 2016. But her predicament has begun to stir questions, even in a decidedly pro-Trump district, about the implications of setting up devotion to the president as the paramount test for candidates, even those who, like Ms. Roby, have reliably backed the party’s legislative agenda.
“I don’t think that eight years of Trump is going to be enough to totally divide the party, with people who are just that intensely loyal and won’t support anybody that doesn’t support him,” said Donna Horn, who runs a beer distributorship in Pike County. “But I do think who is the president after that is going to be a test of whether they can pull back or not.”