Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, second woman to lead the state, will seek re-election
In a video recording released by her campaign yesterday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, 76, announced her intentions to run once more for the highest office in the Yellowhammer State.
Ivey is the state’s second female governor after Lurleen B. Wallace, wife of infamously racist civil rights-era governor George Wallace, who took up her husband's reins after he became ill.
Ivey's journey to the governor's mansion has taken her through several political offices. From 2003 to 2011, she served as state treasurer. After her tenure in the treasurer's office, she successfully ran for lieutenant governor under now-disgraced former governor Robert Bentley and succeeded him after his resignation in 2017. In 2018, she won her first gubernatorial election against Democrat Walt Maddox, winning handily with nearly 60% of the vote.
In her videotaped message, Ivey praised Alabama as a state where "anything is possible," calling Alabama's business climate the best in the nation. Ivey also cited the addition of 44k new jobs, the state's lowest unemployment rate in 202 years, and $19 billion in new business investment during her tenure.
The governor also mentioned the challenges of COVID and alluded to her controversial, but now expired mask mandate which rankled some of her fellow conservatives.
“The COVID crisis has tested us all, but together we've met the call with the same things that make us who we are — faith, resilience and a good old-fashioned bucket load of common sense. The result: a future brighter than any other in America," said the governor.
Despite her optimistic tone, Ivey still faces some significant questions surrounding her health and ability to continue to govern. In 2019, Ivey announced that she had been diagnosed with Stage 1 lung cancer and was undergoing radiation treatments. She updated the state last year on her health status explaining that the radiation treatments had worked and that she was cancer-free.
In a conversation with reporters after her announcement yesterday, the governor brushed off concerns about her health, saying she'd be able to govern, "Four more years and more if I could run again."
In addition to questions about her health, Ivey is also facing criticism related to her handling of education in the state as well as Alabama's beleaguered prison system. She briefly touched on both issues in her re-election announcement.
“We've got several items that need attention. One is meaningful education reform. Certainly, we'll finish out the prison project. We'll be working with the legislators on that project," she said.
Ivey's rosy depiction of Alabama's affairs and her performance as political executor was not shared by all. The Alabama Democratic Party responded to her announcement via Twitter with less-than-enthusiastic commentary.
“Kay Ivey claims that AL has a ‘future brighter than any other in America' but after a decade of total GOP control, AL still ranks at the bottom of every list, whether it's healthcare, education, or vaccinations," tweeted the ADP.
The Democratic Party also released an official statement on Ivey's plans to seek re-election, explaining that the state needs a governor who will support a raise in the minimum wage to $15, legalized marijuana, Medicaid expansion and other policy changes.
“Kay Ivey has had four years to improve our lives, but just like the Republicans who came before her, she has done nothing to improve anyone’s lives unless they’re a millionaire or a politician," said the statement.
Alabama has been under Republican control since 2002 when Democrat Don Siegelman departed the governor's office amid a corruption scandal. No Democrat has held the governor’s office since Don Siegelman departed after one term in 2002. Alabama’s Republican Party has solidified its control over state government in the years since, holding supermajorities in both legislative chambers, control of the Alabama Supreme Court and all U.S. congressional seats except for that of House District 7, held by Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham.