Why People Are Talking About Gov. Ivey’s Age

Posted by .

 1481678992 
1531093058
Gov. Kay Ivey is 73. Does it matter?
Gov. Kay Ivey is 73. Does it matter?

Source: Kay Ivey Campaign for Governor

by Miranda Fulmore

The midterm elections are still a few months away and already there are questions about whether Gov. Kay Ivey has the stamina to campaign.

Early last month, Republicans gathered at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens to talk strategy moving into the fall election. They’re worried about calming the blue wave after voters elected Democrat Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate in December.

Sallie Bryant, the chairwoman of the Jefferson County Republican Party, said Republicans have to make sure Kay Ivey remains governor, but Ivey must prove she’s up for the challenge.

“She is a lady who looks older than she is, in my opinion,” Bryant said. “I mean, I am very close to her age and you’re probably going to say ‘really?’ But there’s a lot of difference in the way I look and the way she looks.”

Ivey is 73 years old. When questions emerged about her health and age a month before the primary, she responded, “For those who are genuinely interested, my health is doing great. I’m in good health, and I give thanks to God Almighty for it.”

 

Gov. Kay Ivey calls issue of health records ‘publicity stunt’

 

 

 

Ivey’s campaign declined to comment for this story and said she was not doing any campaign interviews at this time. But she did release a note from her doctor saying her health wouldn’t affect her duties as governor, but only after democratic nominee, 45-year-old Walt Maddox, released his records.

Democrat Walt Maddox faces Gov. Kay Ivey in the November general election
Democrat Walt Maddox faces Gov. Kay Ivey in the November general election.
Walt Maddox Campaign

“You have this very young handsome looking man and you have this woman who has been there for a long time and … she’s got gray hair and she’s a little bit older,” said Elizabeth BeShears, a consultant who has worked on political campaigns including Robert Bentley’s first run for governor.

She thinks Ivey has a good chance of winning this year, but BeShears said, she needs to start campaigning and talking about the issues, instead of feeding into the conversation about her age and health. That can be hard when fellow republicans like syndicated political columnist Steve Flowers say she looks senile and make public comments like one at a recent meeting of the Middle Alabama Republican Club.

“She cannot debate. I’m not sure if Kay can stand for an hour and a half,” Flowers said. “I don’t know if you need to be putting her under that stress.”

Elizabeth BeShears said there is a double standard and people would not be talking about Ivey’s age or health if she were a man.

“I think it’s kind of a little bit of a cheap shot,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of older candidates through the years. I mean Governor Bentley was 67 when he first ran and then he was 72 – 73 when he left office.”

But not all republicans think Ivey’s and health will negatively impact her this election. Senator J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner said with her age comes experience and knowledge that Maddox does not have.

“You know I’m older than she is, and I’m still active in the Alabama’s senate. I’m healthy. I can still think, and she can too,” Waggoner said.

But Skidmore College political scientist Christopher Mann, who studies people’s impressions of candidates, said the media and voters are more critical of female candidates like Ivey.

“We judge people using things that are, in some ways, in the lizard brain based on voice pitch, or appearance, age and gender,” he said.

Mann said there are risks for Ivey if questions around her stamina continue to loom large.

“If the narrative becomes she’s not hitting the road because she’s not able to do it, doesn’t want to do it. That becomes a problem,” he said.

But Mann said like all incumbents, Ivey has a balancing act between her day job and her campaign, so her strategy of keeping the campaign on the backburner is typical at this point in the race.

Miranda Fulmore

Miranda Fulmore

Digital News Producer



New Jefferson County Commission Takes Office With Three New Members
11-14-2018

Sheila Tyson and Lashunda Scales were sworn into office as Jefferson County commissioners Wednesday, along with Steve Ammons, a former Vestavia Hills City Council member. Tyson and Scales are Democrats; Ammons is a Republican. The Republican majority continues on the commission with incumbents Jimmie Stephens and Joe Knight.

Jefferson County’s ‘Blue Wave:’ How the First Black Sheriff and District Attorney Won Election
11-13-2018

Jefferson County’s first black sheriff and district attorney were swept into office Tuesday on a wave of Democratic straight-ticket voting.

Democrats Angered at Lack of State Party Support
11-13-2018

Democrats across the country took the House and flipped several governorships during the midterms. It was a different story in Alabama. Democrats here lost every statewide race, and they lost five statehouse seats to Republicans. Recent news reports say the Alabama Democratic Party sat on hundreds of thousands of dollars — money candidates say could have been used toward their campaigns. Many Alabama Democratic candidates blame their poor performance on the lack of support from the state Party.

Former AL Senator Jeff Sessions Resigns as Attorney General
11-7-2018

The day after the 2018 midterms, Jeff Sessions has resigned as attorney general. In a letter to President Trump, Sessions told the president that he is stepping down “at your request.”

Republicans Maintain Firm Control After Alabama Midterms
11-7-2018

Republicans left no doubt about their dominance of Alabama politics Tuesday. Republican incumbent Governor Kay Ivey turned back a challenge from Democrat Walt Maddox. The Republicans kept all statewide offices and won all contested congressional races in Alabama.