By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
Ahead of her 100th day in office as Alabama’s Chief Executive, a new approval poll shows that Governor Kay Ivey is one of the most popular Governors in the country.
A Morning Consult poll conducted from April 1 to July 10, the results of which were released Tuesday, lists Ivey as the sixth most popular Governor in the country, touting a 64-percent approval rating. Her disapproval rating of 13 percent is also the lowest of all 50 governors.
The poll — which covers the year’s second quarter — is the first to paint a picture of Alabamians’ view of their new Governor little more than three months after she replaced former Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned amid a spiraling sex scandal with a former top political aide.
Ivey’s approval rating will be surveyed again over the next three months.
Before his ouster, Bentley had an approval rating of 44 percent according to the same poll taken from January–March. He had a disapproval rating of 48 percent.
Wednesday will mark the 100th day since Ivey took the oath of office in the Old Senate Chambers only minutes after Bentley delivered his resignation in the Old House Chambers steps away. Since the transition, Ivey — who served as Lieutenant Governor from 2010-2016 — has made a point of separating herself from Bentley’s legacy.
She has turned over much of the state’s top leadership, requesting letters of resignation from Bentley’s entire cabinet and accepting most of them over the course of her first three months in office.
So far, she has replaced her communications director — twice, along with her Legal Adviser, Chief of Staff, Legislative Director, Information Technology Secretary, ALEA Secretary, National Guard Chief, Senior Services Commissioner, Mental Health Commissioner, Revenue Commissioner, and ADECA Director.
In her first days in office, she removed Jon Mason, the husband of Rebekah Mason, the director of the SERVE Alabama, the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Volunteer Services. That decision will save the state more than $90,000 a year.
She will also soon replace the EMA Director, Art Faulkner, who is set to retire in September.
In her first press conference after taking over as Governor, Ivey promised she would turn the State around after years of political tumult, saying she would “steady the ship of state” and restore Alabama’s image.
“There has no doubt been a dark cloud hanging over our great State,” Ivey said during that presser. “People all over the world, much less the nation, have all their eyes on Alabama, and it’s not for the right reasons.”
Ivey’s predecessor — who just yesterday asserted that he was the best governor the state had “ever had … by far” — was accused of misusing State funds to carry out an affair with Rebekah Mason.
Though Ivey may agree with Bentley on many aspects of policy, including prison construction among other things, she has shown a tendency to part with his decision calculus in other areas.
Just week’s after taking office, she reversed his decision on the US Senate election to replace Jeff Sessions, who took a promotion as US Attorney General from President Donald Trump. Bentley had set the primary to coincide with the 2018 statewide general election, nearly two years after Sessions’ replacement, now-Sen. Luther Strange, was appointed.
Ivey moved the election forward nearly a year, instead choosing to set it for December of this year. The Special Primary is set for next month.
On her second full day in office, Ivey signed a bill ending the State’s practice of Judicial Override in capital punishment.
Last week, she disbanded 18 Bentley-era committees, councils and task forces, including the Alabama Advisory Council on Gaming. She said she would rather make the decisions herself instead of bunting the responsibility to unelected, appointed bodies.
“I am choosing to tackle some of the issues that have previously been sent before a task force,” Ivey said last week.
Ivey has positioned herself as a reformer who is willing to tackle corruption. Last Thursday, she banned lobbyists from sitting on appointed commissions and councils created by Executive Order from the Governor.
Though she has largely attempted to avoid controversy, it has been somewhat unavoidable. In May, she signed more controversial bills including one to protect Confederate monuments and another that allows faith-based adoption agencies to turn away LGBT couples.
Ivey has said she signed the bills because they were passed overwhelmingly by the State’s Legislature.
The new Governor, now 72, has largely refused to answer questions related to her health. A May APR report revealed that Ivey was hospitalized in Colorado in 2015 while at a conference in Denver. Her staff in the lieutenant governor’s office then tried to cover up the hospitalization, according to sources who spoke with APR.
Ivey later promised she was healthy and said she has “never felt better.” Her office said she went to the hospital briefly after suffering from altitude sickness.
Ivey will be up for re-election next year, but has not yet announced if she will seek the office again. If she does, she will face primary challenges from Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Public Service Commission President Twinkle Cavanaugh, Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington, evangelist Scott Dawson, State Senator Bill Hightower, businessman Josh Jones and Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan.