By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Reporter
Kay Ivey has been Governor for barely a week, but she’s already moved aggressively to correct some of the mistakes of recently disgraced Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned Monday before last after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor corruption charges.
Ivey immediately started rearranging the Governor’s staff, including accepting the resignation of Jon Mason, the husband of Bentley’s girlfriend Rebekah Mason. She also accepted the resignation of ALEA Secretary Stan Stabler. After former ALEA Secretary Spencer Collier refused to follow orders from Bentley he believed were wrong, Collier was booted and Stabler hired. Stabler did what Bentley asked.
And this week, Ivey set a Special Election for the US Senate seat held by former Attorney General Luther Strange, who was appointed by Bentley to replace longtime US Sen. Jeff Sessions, who was appointed US Attorney General by President Donald Trump.
These are all good decisions by Ivey, who said she “promised to steady our ship of state.”
Bentley’s arrogance often led to poor decision-making. If Ivey can hold the ship of state steady, that’ll be a big improvement over what we’ve seen during the past few years.
So now, Strange has to prepare for an election this year. Ivey set the General Election for Dec. 12. That means the party primaries will be Aug. 15 and a runoff, if necessary, Sept. 26.
The vote for Strange’s US Senate seat was originally set by Bentley for the 2018 election cycle.
But as reported by The Alabama Political Reporter’s Josh Moon, Strange is good with Ivey’s decision.
Strange, in a statement, said: “As I’ve said for months, I’m a candidate, and I’m ready to run whether the election is next month or next year,” Strange said. “As the only announced candidate for this office, I will spend the next several months being the best Senator I can be, upholding Alabama values and working with President Donald Trump to drain the swamp and help make America great again.”
Potential candidates won’t have much time to gear up to run. Party candidates have until May 17 to file their papers; independents and other party candidates have until Aug. 15 to qualify.
There is little doubt Strange will have stiff competition. Many people were disappointed that Strange was appointed in the first place, then upset further after Bentley set the election for next year instead of as soon as possible.
Yes, this election will cost our poor state a lot of money: As much as $15 million, though Moon reported that Secretary of State John Merrill hopes the cost will be less than $10 million.
Every election costs big bucks. In truth, the political parties themselves should share the cost of those elections because Alabama has closed primaries.
Still, using cost to put off an election when it is supposed to occur is a dangerous precedent.
Voters deserve to have a voice in whom their US Senator is going to be, without undue delay.
Ivey made the right decision. Most of our elected officials don’t have a good record of doing that of late. Let’s hope she continues on that course. Ivey could have done nothing in this first week, or done something wrong. She didn’t.
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]