By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Several high ranking lawmakers have confirmed to the Alabama Political Reporter that Gov. Kay Ivey will run for Governor in 2018. Ivey, who ascended to the Governor’s office after Robert Bentley fled the position under a cloud of scandal, is now poised to win the job in her own right.
Over the past few weeks, Ivey has reached out to influential lawmakers to inform them of her decision to run. She has received widespread support from Republican Legislators, especially Senators who have worked with her over the last six years. “She doing an excellent job as Governor and she has my support; which is what I told her,” said a long serving Senator who spoke with Ivey last week.
“She’s in the catbird seat for sure,” said another GOP Senator speaking on background. “The best thing her opponents can hope is a large field splitting the vote and forcing a runoff.” Gov, Ivey presently enjoys an overall approval rating at 64 percent with 74 percent of favorable GOP primary voters. Add to her status as an incumbent who has made few unforced errors to date, Ivey starts off undoubtedly as the front-runner.
A sentiment echoed by political consultant and strategist David Mowery. “Being an incumbent is always an advantage when it comes to the most important thing in politics: money,” said Mowery. “Governor Ivey has a specific advantage because she has taken over from a reviled Governor and has gone about her business “righting the ship” of the State.
When Gov. Ivey will officially announce her candidacy is a question mark, as she and her Chief of Staff, Steve Pelham, are known to move decisively and consciously before revealing their plans.
Gov Ivey’s Press Secretary, Daniel Sparkman, responding to APR’s request for comment said, “Governor Ivey is seriously considering her future, and what she feels is best for the people of Alabama. She is encouraged by the support she has received and plans to make a decision soon.”
Later in the day, Sparkman sent an updated comment to APR.
“As the Governor explores the opportunity to run for a full term, she is putting the necessary pieces in place for when she is ready to move forward,” Sparkman said.
Most think Ivey’s real advantage is simply to keep doing what she is doing. “She looks strong compared to the guy she replaced, and anyone looking to unseat her is going to have to convince voters to fire her and hire them,” said Mowrey. “Her bonafides compare favorably to all announced candidates because she’s showing the voters every day that she can do the job, by doing the job, not by talking about what she’ll do if they give her the job.”
While other candidates have been raising money, Ivey is doing the hard job of restoring the State’s image after the Bentley scandal, and the felony conviction of Speaker Mike Hubbard.
“Big donors are sitting on the sidelines waiting to see what she’s going to do,” said a lobbyist who runs a large political action committee representing wealthy business interests who asked not to be identified for this report. “If she runs I think the money is there for her,” he added.
Ivey’s campaign account is in debt, but the indebtedness goes back over a decade ago when she ran for State Treasurer and is money she loaned herself not to an outside source.
With few exceptions, Ivey has as made good on her pledge to run an open, honest, and transparent administration. However, she still retains some suspect appointees, leaving speculation that she is too cozy with intimates of former Gov. Bob Riley, whose reputation suffered when he became a lobbyist, and after his involvement in the Hubbard affair.
Mowrey, who has notched some big political wins, says Ivey is not unbeatable but, “it would take a crucial misstep, a confirmable health scare, and an opponent who has the money and the willingness to take advantage of either.”
One prominent lawmaker who spoke with Gov. Ivey last week said, “She’s running, she’s strong, so it’s game on.”