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Zeigler yet to make decision on governor’s race

Zeigler told APR that he would announce his decision by Aug. 21.

State Auditor Jim Zeigler.

State Auditor Jim Zeigler on Tuesday announced that he will make an announcement in August on whether or not he will run for governor in 2022. Zeigler said that finances are the limiting factor.

“Everywhere I go people are telling me to run for Governor,” Zeigler told APR at a Zeigler exploratory campaign event at the Farmer’s Market Cafe in Montgomery on Tuesday. “The question is can I raise the money to run. If I can, I will. If I can’t, I won’t.”

Zeigler told APR that he would announce his decision by Aug. 21. Zeigler is term-limited from running for a second term as state auditor.

“Gov. Kay Ivey needs to be primaried,” Zeigler told a crowd of nearly 100 supporters. “She needs to be challenged in the Republican primary by a candidate who has stood with the taxpaying public, not with the political insiders.”

Zeigler cited a number of areas where he and Ivey have been in disagreement. Foremost among them being the 2019 fuel taxes increase urged and signed into law by the governor in order to largely fund road repair projects around the state.

“I led the citizens movement against the gas tax,” Zeigler said. “I located funds to pay for our infrastructure needs without the gas tax increases. Gov. Ivey and the insiders did not listen to our ‘Plan Z’ and boldly ran over us and over you.”

Zeigler also cited Ivey’s signature plan to build massive megaprisons through a public-private partnership with private consortiums.

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“I was blessed to lead the citizen opposition to the Ivey prison plan,” Zeigler said. “We pointed out the fatal flaws in the plan, and the investors did something that the insiders will not do – they listened. All the investors pulled out, and the flawed Ivey prison rental plan failed.”

Zeigler also cited his successful opposition to a controversial toll bridge over I-10, which again would have been a public-private partnership involving a consortium of corporations. He also cited his opposition to Amendment One.

“It would have taken away your right to vote for school board members and made them all appointed by the governor,” Zeigler added. “My wife and I chaired the statewide campaign to defeat Amendment One in the March 2020 referendum of state voters. We -and you- defeated Amendment One with a resounding 75 percent ‘No’ votes.”

Zeigler also criticized recent comments by Ivey blaming unvaccinated Alabamians for prolonging the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What Gov. Ivey has forgotten – or never knew- is that a large number of the people who are not vaccinated do not trust the government. A governor pushing so hard for vaccinations make those distrusting the government even less likely to take the vaccine. Common sense is needed here.”

Zeigler did announce that he is organizing exploratory campaign committees in regions across the state and asked for people to volunteer as regional directors and coordinators.

If Zeigler does run for governor, he would join an already crowded Republican primary field. Former Morgan County Commissioner Stacy George, who challenged Gov. Robert Bentley’s re-election in 2014, has recently announced that he is also running against Ivey. It was George and Zeigler who filed the ethics complaints against Bentley that ultimately led to Bentley’s resignation in 2017; and Ivey’s elevation to the governor’s mansion from her role as lieutenant governor. Ivey was elected governor in her own right in 2018. Lee County pastor, televangelist, private school headmaster, and noted conspiracy theorist Dean Odle has also been campaigning for the office for months.

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Zeigler was born in and grew up in Sylacauga in Talladega County. He attended the University of Alabama where he was an SGA president. He is a former public service commissioner and a longtime attorney, specializing in eldercare.  The Republican primary will be on May 24, 2022.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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