Wednesday, Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) announced that he is forming an exploratory campaign to “test the waters’ for a possible run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democratic Senator Doug Jones.
Zeigler says that the exploratory campaign “will gauge support and ability to raise the funds to get our message out.”
The Auditor formed the exploratory committee under Federal Election Commission rules normally used by potential presidential candidates, though available to U.S. Senate potential candidates. Exploratory campaigns are recognized on the FEC website:
In the exploratory phase, he will be limited by normal FEC campaign restrictions, including maximum contributions of $2,700 per person and no labor union or corporate contributions. He will not begin filing campaign disclosures until becoming an actual candidate.
Zeigler must make a decision on whether to run by a November 2019 qualifying deadline, 11 ½ months away.
The 2020 Republican primary is in March 2020. Senator Jones has said that he will defend the seat and has expressed confidence that he will win re-election.
Zeigler said that he will tell folks in his exploratory campaign that “the federal government must cut out waste and mismanagement. Our national debt now exceeds $21 trillion dollars – and growing. No one is standing firm to rein in spending, balance the budget, and start gradually paying down the national debt.”
Zeigler says he served as a watchman in Montgomery while State Auditor; filed the initial ethics complaint against then-governor Robert Bentley that led to his eventual resignation; filed suit against the $47 million no-bid contract for troubled STAARS software; helped block an $800 million no-bid Bentley contract to build four super-prisons; and serves on the Board of Adjustment deciding which claims against the state should be paid by taxpayers and how much.
“I can play a similar role of watchman in Washington. While Alabama government can waste millions, the federal government can waste billions,” Zeigler said. “There is not a Jim Zeigler-type in the U.S. Senate – there is not a watchman against waste. We badly need a watchman for taxpayers. Just the interest alone on the national debt is becoming harder to pay each year. Someone needs to stand up. No one is doing that. I stood up in Montgomery and would do so in Washington.”
Zeigler was elected State Auditor in 2014 and re-elected in 2018 with 61% of the vote. His wife Jackie Zeigler was elected to the State Board of Education in 2016 with 62% in the seven counties of Alabama’s First District.
“My number one priority is of course to do the job as State Auditor, and I’ve been working on that all day every day, even today,” Zeigler said. He is term-limited and cannot run for State Auditor again.