Ivey, challengers race to right in Alabama GOP primary

 1570489506 
1653127231

The Alabama Governor's Office

In a pair of campaign ads this GOP primary season, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey falsely declares the election was stolen from Donald Trump and accuses the federal government of “shipping illegal immigrants” to the state.

“My message to Biden: No way, Jose,” she says.

But a competing ad by former Trump ambassador Lindy Blanchard calls Ivey a “tax-hiking Fauci-loving” liberal, swiping at her for actions during the COVID-19 pandemic and a gas tax increase.

Alabama’s Republican primary has become a race to the right, with candidates staking out extreme positions on abortion, immigration and LGBTQ issues. The race was supposed to be a cake walk for Ivey — who still remains favored to win a second full term — but right flank opponents are trying to make it a referendum on conservative credentials as they seek to push the Alabama governor into a runoff.

Blanchard, who left the U.S. Senate race to run for governor, said there are GOP voters who are not happy with Ivey’s leadership on a number of issues. She particularly cited Ivey’s support for the gas tax increase and mask mandates and business closures during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t want the government anywhere near my health care telling me what to do,” Blanchard said. “I want the people of Alabama to know that if you like Gov. DeSantis and Kristi Noem, then you’ll like Gov. Blanchard,” she said referencing the Florida and South Dakota governors.

It is historically difficult for a primary challenger to defeat an incumbent governor. None of the primary challengers have the footprint to defeat Ivey alone. They instead are placing hopes that they can collectively garner enough primary votes and keep Ivey below 50% of the vote to spark a runoff and a new political ballgame.

Ivey faces a total of eight primary challengers. Blanchard and businessman Tim James — the son of former Gov. Fob James — are seen as the strongest contenders. Another challenger is Lew Burdette, who runs King’s Home, a Christian-based nonprofit with group homes throughout the state. The other five contenders are: former Morgan County Commissioner Stacy Lee George; Opelika pastor Dean Odle; businessman Dean Young; Donald Trent Jones and Springville Mayor Dave Thomas.

“I think GOP voters need to think about their children and their grandchildren and who do they want to lead this state over the next four years in a season that is obviously going to be, probably, rocky in many areas,” James said in an interview. James said he believes voters are angry about the mask mandate, education issues and the gas tax increase that includes a provision for automatic increases based on the National Highway Construction Cost Index.

“Governor Ivey and the political crowd found a way to raise taxes forever without having to vote on them,” James said in the ad. James in other ads called transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, “a man in a woman’s bathing suit” and criticized a first of its kind charter school in Homewood that was created to welcome LGBTQ students.

An Ivey campaign spokesman said the governor is confident she will win without runoff. Spokesman William Heartsill said the governor’s record speaks for itself. “Governor Ivey has done what other people are only talking about doing.”

Among other actions, the campaign cited her record on job creation and her signing of legislation to try to ban abortion at any stage of pregnancy, forbid transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams at schools and outlawing the use of puberty-blockers and hormones to treat transgender minors.

“Kay Ivey is the most conservative governor our state has ever had. She has always been a fighter for conservative values and that will never change,” Heartsill said.

Blanchard, who was Trump’s ambassador to Slovenia, ran an ad that questioned why Ivey didn’t appear on stage with Trump at a Cullman rally. It was there that a cantankerous crowd jeered U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks for suggesting that voters focus energy on the next election since they couldn’t change the outcome of the most recent presidential contest. Ivey greeted Trump at the airport and her office distributed photos of the meeting. Trump has not weighed in on the Alabama race.

The dynamic is playing out in other states. J.D. Vance, the author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” won the Republican primary for an Ohio Senate seat in a race where contenders competed to be the most Trump-like candidate.

State Rep. Mike Ball, who is retiring after 20 years in the Alabama Legislature, said the candidates all have staunchly conservative positions and are in a race amongst themselves to be the most conservative of all.

“There are some extreme positions being taken in this primary. Look at the ads on these hot button issues,” he said.

David Mowery, an Alabama-based political consultant, said right now there is “a lot of sound and fury and we’ll see what it signifies on Election Day.”

“Ivey still has the upper hand and at least a solid shot of winning without a runoff,” he said.

 

Despite pushback, the organizers of Cullman’s first PRIDE event are pushing forward

The announcement of Saturday’s event drew threats and calls for counter-protests. In response, LGBTQ+ communities across the state have offered their support.

6 ways the conversation around a guaranteed income in the US has changed

A guaranteed income conference held in Atlanta shows how the movement has progressed since 2017, with more than 50 pilots currently handing out cash.

New mental health crisis center aims to interrupt revolving door of jail and ER visits

The new clinic in Jefferson County will offer short-term crisis care to people who might otherwise wait hours at a hospital or wind up in jail.

Mississippi’s latest move in its anti-abortion agenda? A tax break for corporate donations

Tax documents show energy company foundations financed the anti-abortion movement in the Gulf South for years. Now, they could get a tax break for that support.

Commission rejects opening courthouse for Saturday absentee voting

Commissioner Sheila Tyson presented the resolution to open the Jefferson County Courthouse for Saturday absentee voting. Others felt the special circumstances of the pandemic had passed.

Birmingham City Council moves toward approval of cannabis dispensaries

Birmingham has taken “the first step” on the road to legalizing medical marijuana. The City Council voted Tuesday to approve an ordinance authorizing medical cannabis dispensaries to operate within Birmingham city limits.

More 2022 Election Coverage