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Opinion | Debates? “No way Kay” says no way

Why does it matter whether current not-elected Republican Gov. Kay Ivey and elected Tuscaloosa Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Walt Maddox debate the issues before Alabama voters?

What’s the big deal, anyway? Each candidate will simply say what they think we want to hear. And, really, what advantage can Ivey gain from a debate with Maddox? Ivey’s the Donald Trump Republican in a Donald Trump state. Maddox is the “liberal” Democrat, nothing but a “lowly” mayor, really, who wants to kill babies, open our borders, and take our guns.

Still, what about the voters? Don’t they deserve to see Ivey and Maddox face off, interact, explain their positions in front of each other, tell why their ideas are better, answer direct questions from a panel of knowledgeable folks who know the big issues and the questions to ask?

Don’t expect “No Way” Kay to ever debate Maddox. Or anybody. She can’t handle it in the first place, and doesn’t need to in the second. Not with a big majority of Alabama voters so far up Trump’s rump that all they can see are a few polyps and half-masticated cheeseburgers. Maybe some Putin.

Maddox this week proposed four debates with Ivey. What he got from Ivey’s handlers was basically a: “Go F yourself.” In the true Trumpian style of lie a lot, and lie big, Ivey’s controllers said Maddox should answer a few questions himself – questions he answers every time he appears before anybody.

“It seems the person Walt Maddox should be debating is himself,” said a press release from Ivey’s overseers. No discussion. Nothing here worth the unelected governor’s precious time.

In other words: “Go F yourself.”

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They’ve confused Maddox, who actually answers questions, with Ivey, who actually doesn’t.

Maddox clearly is better qualified to lead Alabama forward. His record as mayor of Tuscaloosa, especially during and after the 2011 tornadoes that tore his city to shreds, shows he can handle the pressure and, in the wake of such devastation, turn a city around.

Maddox has vision, not revision.

Ivey did little as lieutenant governor except wait for disgraced Gov. Robert Bentley to disgrace himself out of office. There may not be a statewide elected position with as little punch as lieutenant governor. Mayors have a much more difficult job. But lieutenant governor doesn’t pay bad for a job that requires practically nothing.

One would think that as a woman, Ivey would have a special empathy for the women abused by former Chief Justice Roy Moore. Ivey said she did, and then voted for the child molester for the U.S. Senate because he was a Republican. Like her. Moore wasn’t even a Trump Republican; he’s an even weirder Republican than Trump (though where abuse of women is concerned, Moore and Trump have a lot in common).

As long as most Alabama voters believe Trump’s lies, and continue to appreciate his treason, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, and other terrible characteristics, Ivey doesn’t have to do much heavy lifting. Well, unless she actually had to physically lift Trump. Fortunately for her, Ivey doesn’t. But if she accepts Trump’s support, she accepts his character. She accepts his racism and all the ugly rest.

Except, I don’t think most Alabama voters believe that way. I really don’t. It’s not what they want, especially today, with all the turmoil we have roiling the state and nation.

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I believe most voters and potential voters want to see these two candidates for the state’s highest office appear together to justify their positions, to explain their ideas, to present their visions.

Voters do want to hear what a governor can do to make their lives better. It’s a lot more than just cutting a ribbon at a ground-breaking for some industry that was coming to Alabama no matter who was governor because Alabama gives all the tax breaks it needs and provides all the labor it wants at a cost it can easily afford.

But Ivey’s bosses want her to keep quiet. Just keep on cutting ribbons, Kay. Keep on Trumping. You’ll be OKay. Get it? OKay? (A yard sign?)

To Walt Maddox, though, “Go F yourself.” And to Alabama voters, basically, the same.

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column each week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]


Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column each week for the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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