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Opinion | Ivey will win

Eight challengers have lined up against Ivey and collectively have spent almost $20 million to unseat the state’s most popular governor in decades.

Gov. Kay Ivey (Governor's Office/Hal Yeager)

As the primary race for governor enters the final stretch toward May 24, some polls suggest that Gov. Kay Ivey will be forced into a June runoff, while others point to a decisive victory for the incumbent governor.

A similar situation faced candidate Lurleen Wallace in May 1966 as a crowded field of nine primary challengers threatened to throw the governor’s race into a runoff. Lurleen, running as a surrogate for her husband, George, who was term limited, wasn’t assured a definitive win heading into the primary However, Lurleen Wallace bested the field with a 54 percent primary victory. She went on to prevail in the general election to become the 46th governor of Alabama and its first female chief executive.

Eight challengers have lined up against Ivey and collectively have spent almost $20 million to unseat the state’s most popular governor in decades. Even in polls most favorable to Ivey’s opponents, none come within 20 points of touching her.

Most surveys show businessman Tim James and former ambassador Lindy Blanchard only drawing between 12 to 18 percent support among likely primary voters. James has poured around $5 million into his race, while Blanchard has invested nearly $10 million of her personal fortune in her efforts.

Most Alabamians can’t conceive of such riches, much less spending it to win a job that pays less than $130,00 a year.

But being governor isn’t about money; it’s about power.

It is not known how Ivey’s eight challengers would use the power of the governor’s office, but by now, voters know how Ivey will.

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As governor, Ivey has tackled some of the state’s most pressing problems with a fearless determination and strength of character. Seeking Alabama solutions to Alabama’s problems is not simply a saying for Ivey; it is a guiding principle.

Ivey is a conservative Republican who is also a pragmatic leader who understands that governing demands consistency and patience, not radical lurching with the whims and winds of the moment.

Ivey has pulled out the standard dog whistle employed by every Republican running for office during this current election cycle. It’s as if political consultants think the people of Alabama are silly, ignorant, or just plain stupid. It’s painful to watch, but that’s politics.

Ivey may not be perfect, but she has put the people of Alabama first, and that is an exception among today’s political class.

While Ivey’s primary challengers have spent millions tearing her down, there is not one of her rivals who is in striking distance of taking her out by themselves. If Ivey faces a runoff election, it will be because the large field of hopefuls have wasted millions to split the electorate.

It is difficult to imagine the state’s voters finding a reason to fire Ivey and hire one of her opponents, but you either run scared or run unopposed in politics.

However, Ivey will win in the end, and the state will be better for her victory.

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Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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