Editor's Note: In the final 100 days before Election Day, CNN has been profiling one race at random each day from among the nation's top 100 House races, which we've dubbed "The CNN 100." Read the full list here . Today's featured district is:
Alabama 02: Rep. Bobby Bright battles to keep his seat.
Primary: June 1, 2010
Days until the election: 35
This is one of those districts that strategists on both sides of the aisle spend a fair amount of time staring at; a Democrat-held seat in a right-leaning district (that was held by a Republican from 1964 until 2008).
Republicans certainly look to this place, nestled in southeast Alabama (and including Montgomery) in this so-called anti-incumbent year, as a good chance to make a pick-up. Yet it wont be so easy to just reach in and grab it- the sitting congressman, Rep. Bobby Bright, has a background that is very appealing to voters here, and a voting record that is hard to run against. The race for this seat is hot and it will come down to the wire.
Bright, who voted against his party on the stimilus package, the energy bill, and health care reform has campaigned as what prominent political analyst Charlie Cook calls a "nonpartisan congressman." He has been vocal about his record of bucking his party - so much so that even voted for Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee in 2008 - and has deep roots in the area having served as mayor of Montgomery for three terms (elected first in 1999) before running for congress in 2008. Still, his opponent, Republican Montgomery councilwoman Martha Roby, benefits from unpopular Democratic coattails that she can attach to Bright.
As of the end of September, Roby has raised only about half a million dollars, compared to Bright who has raised double that sum with more than a million dollars. Bright also has an enormous cash-on-hand advantage, with more than $700,000 left to spend, compared to Roby, whose coffers are dwindling with a little more than $100,000. But both party committees are dumping enormous sums of money into the district, with dueling ads on television from each side. The GOP is focusing on a message tying Bright to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Bright counters that he "voted with Republicans 80 percent of the time"), while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spots that tie Roby to special interest funding and say that she would cut medicare and "hurt senior citizens." Roby's campaign has called the attacks "false."
Turnout could prove to be an important key to the outcome in this district, which lost some of its more Democratic-leaning (and also African American) precincts when redistricters sought to make the neighboring 3rd congressional district more Democratic. Bright was elected with high African American turnout in 2008, and lower voter enthusiasm this year could also have an effect.