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Tea party favorite loses runoff in Alabama

/ Source: The Associated Press

A mainstream Republican rolled past a conservative tea party activist in the primary runoff for a southeast Alabama congressional seat that Republicans hope to reclaim.

Montgomery City Councilwoman Martha Roby was drawing 60 percent in the unofficial count in the 2nd Congressional District Republican runoff Tuesday against Rick Barber, a former Marine who operates a Montgomery pool hall that hosts tea party meetings.

Roby will face conservative Democratic U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright in the fall. Bright's win in 2008 marked the first time the Republicans had lost the seat since 1964.

In other races, self-described outsider state Rep. Robert Bentley won the Republican runoff for governor against establishment figure Bradley Byrne, a former two-year college system chancellor. Bentley, a retired Tuscaloosa physician, spoke with some tea party groups but was generally seen as a moderate willing to work with Democrats.

Bentley faces the Democratic nominee, State Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, in November. Because of term limits, Republican Gov. Bob Riley could not seek a third term.

In the state's 7th District, Terri Sewell, a Harvard-educated lawyer from Birmingham, likely will be the first black woman elected to Congress from Alabama. She won a Democratic runoff Tuesday in a solidly Democratic district and will face Republican Don Chamberlain of Selma in November.

In the 2nd District, Roby, 34, promised to bring "common sense conservative values" to Congress. But Barber, 35, who has no political track record, described her as a "status quo" candidate, the daughter of a federal judge appointed by President Ronald Reagan.

Roby nearly won the June 1 primary outright but fell slightly short of a majority in the four-candidate field.