Bobby Bright

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Bobby Bright
Bobby Bright official photo.JPG
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 2009 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Terry Everett
Succeeded by Martha Roby
55th Mayor of Montgomery
In office
November 9, 1999 – January 3, 2009
Preceded by Emory Folmar
Succeeded by Todd Strange
Personal details
Born (1952-07-21) July 21, 1952 (age 66)
Midland City, Alabama, U.S.
Political party Independent (before 2008)
Democratic (2008–2018)
Republican (2018–present)
Spouse(s) Lynn Clardy
Education Auburn University (BA)
Troy University (MS)
Faulkner University (JD)

Bobby Neal Bright Sr. (born July 21, 1952) is an American former lawyer, farmer, and politician who served as a U.S. Representative and was once the Mayor of Montgomery. He served from 2009 to 2011 as the Representative from Alabama's 2nd congressional district. His 2008 campaign ran on the message of "America First". His voting record indicated that he was the most conservative member of the House Democratic Caucus in the 111th Congress. District 2 includes just over half of the state capital, Montgomery, as well as most of the Wiregrass Region in the southeastern part of the state. Bright, a native to the Wiregrass Region, grew up farming the fields with his 13 siblings. Bright is the first Mayor of Montgomery to be elected to Congress. In November 2010, he was defeated for a second term in the U.S. House by Republican nominee Martha Roby, a Montgomery City Council member. In 2018, Bright attempted to run for his old seat but was defeated in the primaries.

Early life, education, and early career[edit]

Bright was born in Midland City, Alabama and grew up on one of the cotton farms that were typical of the Wiregrass Region.[1] Bright grew up the son of a sharecropper, with 13 other siblings. After spending his youth working on the farm and graduating from high school, he took a job in metalworking to save up money for college. Bright worked each and every day to pay for his education. He later graduated from Auburn University with a B.A. in political science in 1975 and took a job as an auditor before earning an M.S. in criminal justice from Troy State University in 1977 and beginning a career as a corrections officer. While working in the prison system, he was deeply affected by the many young people he saw entering the penitentiaries and decided to transition into law practice as a result.[2] Bright received his Juris Doctor from the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law at Faulkner University in 1982. He practiced law for fifteen years before entering into politics.

Mayor of Montgomery[edit]

Bright was first elected in 1999, defeating longtime incumbent Republican Mayor Emory Folmar. He was re-elected in a landslide against challenger Scott Simmons in 2003.

During Mayor Bright's tenure he revitalized Montgomery's downtown and riverfront including the Renaissance Montgomery complex and Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium. He helped bring new jobs to the area, and saved existing jobs. He was also named the state's "Tourism Advocate of the Year" by the Governor for his work in building that industry. On the financial side, he balanced the City's budget every year and created a $30 million rainy day fund, secured millions in federal grants for important projects, maintained the city's "AA" credit rating (best in state) by holding spending and debt in check, and saved money by implementing an international prescription drug buying program.[3][4][5]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



Mayor Bright had never previously claimed affiliation with any party, but in 2008 he announced that he was running as a Democrat for the open seat in the 2nd District. The district's eight-term incumbent, Republican Congressman Terry Everett, was not running for reelection.[6]

Like many Alabama Democrats, he opposes abortion and gun control. However, he favors "a strong, honorable plan" to end the Iraq War.[7]

Mayor Bright was considered the strongest Democrat to run in a district that had been in Republican hands since 1965. With the strong support of the state and national Democratic Establishment, Bright easily won the Democratic Nomination against two minor challengers. He faced Republican State Representative Jay Love in the November Election. Both Mayor Bright and Representative Love are deacons at First Baptist Church in Montgomery.[8] Mayor Bright received the endorsement of bitter Republican Primary loser State Senator Harri Anne Smith, whom Representative Love had defeated by six points in the Primary.[9]

Just before the Election, CQ Politics, The Cook Political Report and The Rothenberg Political Report rated the race a toss-up, with neither candidate a clear favorite over the other.[10][11][12] In the November Election, Mayor Bright received 143,997 votes to Representative Love's 142,231 votes—a margin of 1,766 votes, or just over 0.6 percentage points. While the two candidates each won eight of the district's 16 counties, Bright won the district's share of Montgomery County by 30 points. Representative Love had the option of requesting a recount since the margin of victory was less than a point, but opted not to do so and conceded the seat to Mayor Bright.[13][14] Bright's victory, and that of Parker Griffith in the 5th District, gave Alabama two white Democratic congressmen for the first time since Tom Bevill and Glen Browder left the House in 1997. He also represented the fourth most Republican district in the nation to be represented by a Democrat; it has a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+16, and gave John McCain 63 percent of the vote in 2008.

The 2nd traditionally gives its congressmen very long tenures in Washington. Bright was only the seventh person to represent it in over a century, and the fifth since 1921. Bright's 2008 campaign was endorsed by Democrats for Life of America.[15]


Bright was unopposed in the 2010 Democratic primary. Republican Montgomery city council member Martha Roby decisively beat Tea Party favorite and former Marine Rick Barber.[16] Bright ran campaign ads aimed at distancing himself from the establishment Democratic Party. In these ads, he described himself as “independent and conservative,” and emphasized his support for small business. Under fire from Roby for his support of Pelosi for Speaker of the House, Bright stated publicly that he would not vote for Pelosi for Speaker again.[17]


During his time in Congress, Bright was a member of the Blue Dog Coalition. He voted with Democratic leadership 71.7% of the time.,[18] making him the second most conservative member of the House Democratic Caucus.[19] Bright voted twice against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, one of only 7 Democrats voting against the final version.[20] In February 2009, Bright voted in favor of the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009.[21] In June 2009, Bright voted in favor of the Cash for Clunkers bill.[22] In July 2009, Bright voted against establishing spending caps through fiscal year 2014.[23] In November 2009, Bright voted against the House version of the Affordable Health Care for America Act.[24] In March 2010, Bright voted against the Senate version of the Affordable Health Care for America Act.[25] He has not signed a petition circulated by Iowa Republican Steve King calling for a complete repeal of the law, calling the effort "premature." [26][27] In November 2009, Bright, along with Representative Walt Minnick of Idaho, introduced House Resolution 4072. This resolution reorganized public job training funds, directing them towards flexible skills and credentials recognized by industries. Also called the American Manufacturing Efficiency and Retraining Investment Collaboration Act (AMERICA Works), the bill was targeted at new workers just entering the workforce and servicemen and women returning to civilian life.[28] Because of his dedication to small business, Bright requested a waiver to serve on the House Small Business Committee shortly after his arrival in Washington. This committee worked to find solutions to the challenges faced by small businesses. Some of these include the cost of health care, the impact of food safety recalls, federal government regulations, and small business taxes. The first bill sponsored by Bright was intended for the benefit of small businesses. It created a bonus deprecation for the kind of large purchases made by small businesses. His legislation would eventually be included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which became law on February 17, 2009.[29]

After the defection of fellow Alabama Democrat Parker Griffith to the Republican Party in December 2009, political analyst and statistician Nate Silver suggested that Bright could follow, naming "60/40" odds that he would eventually join the Republican caucus as well.[30] The day after Griffith's party switch, Bright told media that he had no intention of switching parties and would remain a Democrat.[31]

The National Journal named Bright the most conservative Democrat during the first session of the 111th United States Congress.[32]

In April 2009, Bright voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.[33]

Committee assignments[edit]

2018 Congressional run[edit]

In February 2018, Bright filed to run for his old House seat as a Republican. He said that during his one term in Congress, he hadn't been able to do everything he'd wanted to do "because my beliefs are conservative and that held me back." He pointed out that Roby was no longer on the Agriculture and Armed Services committees despite the 2nd's large military presence and significant agricultural element.

Electoral history[edit]

Alabama's 2nd Congressional District House Election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Bobby Bright 144,368 50.23%
Republican Jay Love 142,578 49.61%
Alabama's 2nd Congressional District House Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Martha Roby 111,645 50.97%
Democratic Bobby Bright 106,865 48.79% -1.44%

Personal life[edit]

Bright is married to retired District Judge, Lynn Clardy Bright. They have three children: Bobby Neal Jr., Lisa Lynn, and Katherine Clardy.


  1. ^ Bobby Bright profile Archived November 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. at CQ Politics
  2. ^ [1] Archived November 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Alabama's 2nd District Archived June 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. DCCC
  4. ^ "Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce's Riverfront Development page". Archived from the original on December 9, 2006. Retrieved January 8, 2007. 
  5. ^ "Central Alabama Business Journal interview with Bobby Bright in August, 2005". Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright to run for Congress". Archived from the original on February 21, 2009. Retrieved September 17, 2018. 
  7. ^ Nolin, Jill Profile of Bobby Bright[full citation needed] Archived January 17, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Montgomery Advertiser, May 27, 2008.
  8. ^ "Fellow Church Members, Deacons, Vie for Alabama Congressional Seat". Archived from the original on December 10, 2008. 
  9. ^ Ex-GOP candidate backs Bright October 12, 2008. Politico. Retrieved Dec. 4, 2008
  10. ^ U.S. House, Alabama - 2nd District Archived May 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. CQ Politics
  11. ^ 2008 Competitive House Race Chart Archived July 2, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. The Cook Political Report, August 30, 2008
  12. ^ 2008 House Ratings The Rothenberg Political Report, November 2, 2008
  13. ^ Orndorff, Mary. Alabama State Rep. Jay Love unlikely to seek recount in 2nd District loss to Bobby Bright. Birmingham News, Nov. 4, 2008.
  14. ^ Democrat Bright wins in Ala. 2nd Dist.[permanent dead link] Associated Press via WPMI-TV, Nov. 5, 2008.
  15. ^ "Act Blue" page of Democrats for Life
  16. ^ "MSN | Outlook, Office, Skype, Bing, Breaking News, and Latest Videos". Retrieved 2018-07-11. 
  17. ^ Givens, Matthew (October 18, 2010). "Alabama 2nd Congressional District Recap". Huffington Post. 
  18. ^ "Rep. Bobby Bright, Alabama (D) - U.S. Congress". OpenCongress. Archived from the original on June 14, 2010. Retrieved July 11, 2010. 
  19. ^ "House voting with party scores, 111th Congress". Washington Post. Archived from the original on September 14, 2010. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  20. ^ [2] Archived January 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ Final Vote Results for Roll Call 86. Retrieved March 7, 2010.
  22. ^ FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 314. Retrieved March 7, 2010.
  23. ^ Final Vote Results for Roll Call 610. Retrieved March 7, 2010.
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ "State may join in lawsuit over health care bill - The Troy Messenger". The Troy Messenger. 2010-03-22. Retrieved 2018-07-11. 
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 2, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 2, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  30. ^ Silver, Nate (Dec 23, 2009). "Politics Done Right: 2009's Most Valuable Democrat Is". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved Jul 11, 2010. 
  31. ^ "McCain, GOP secretly courting another Dem to switch". Politico.Com. Retrieved Jul 11, 2010. 
  32. ^ "Bright rated most conservative Dem". WTVY. February 26, 2010. Archived from the original on March 2, 2010. Retrieved February 27, 2010. 
  33. ^ [3]. Retrieved February 21, 2014.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Emory Folmar
Mayor of Montgomery
Succeeded by
Todd Strange
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Terry Everett
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Martha Roby