Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announces run for another term

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced Wednesday that she is running for reelection, citing her record over the last four years that includes the state’s emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ivey, 76, made the announcement in a video message released by her campaign. The Republican emphasized her administration’s investment in infrastructure, job creation, Alabama’s pandemic recovery and its low unemployment rate.

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“Alabama is working again, and the best is yet to come,” Ivey said in her distinct Southern drawl.

“The COVID crisis has tested us all, but together we’ve met the call with the same things that make us who we are — faith, resilience and a good old-fashioned bucket load of common sense. The result: a future brighter than any other in America,” Ivey said.

The incumbent governor’s entry into the 2022 race likely will discourage some gubernatorial hopefuls from jumping into the fray. Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth had said he will not run for governor if Ivey seeks another term. No Democrat has declared an intention to run yet.

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Speaking briefly with reporters later in the day, Ivey said she is running on her record and to tackle unfinished business. Ivey cited education, the state prison system and job creation as priorities.

“The COVID crisis has tested us all, but together we've met the call with the same things that make us who we are — faith, resilience and a good old-fashioned bucket load of common sense. The result: a future brighter than any other in America."

- Gov. Kay Ivey, who announced her reelection bid Wednesday

“We’ve got several items that need attention. One is meaningful education reform. Certainly, we’ll finish out the prison project. We’ll be working with the legislators on that project. And keeping our people employed gainfully and adding more jobs,” Ivey said.

Ivey faced praise and criticism for her handling of the pandemic. Unlike some Southern governors, she issued a statewide mask order, a move that was criticized by some conservatives but won her praise from health officials and others for following scientific recommendations. The state mask order has ended.

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She has often embraced GOP priorities during her four years in office, including signing the nation’s most stringent abortion restrictions into law, making performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases. The 2019 law, swiftly blocked by the courts, was part of a wave of restrictions passed by Republican-led legislatures that were aimed at getting the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the issue of abortion.

Ivey also won a political victory in 2019 with legislative approval of a gas tax increase to fund road and bridge construction and improvements at the state docks.

While Alabama’s state prison crisis was decades in the making before Ivey took office, the U.S. Department of Justice sued the state last year over its management, saying male prisoners live in unconstitutional conditions with excessive levels of violence. The state prison system disputes the claims.

Hours after making the announcement, Ivey made a brief lunchtime campaign stop to speak with reporters and greet diners at a restaurant not far from the Alabama Capitol.

“I think she has done a great job particularly with the corona(virus) situation. She’s done a very good job of injecting a lot of common sense into her decisions,” said retired Air Force Col. Joe Panza, who now serves as executive director of the Air University Foundation. “She took some heat for it, but that is what leadership is all about,” Panza, 82, said.

In a statement on Twitter, the Alabama Democratic Party said, “Alabama can’t afford 4 more years.”

“Kay Ivey claims that AL has a ‘future brighter than any other in America’ but after a decade of total GOP control, AL still ranks at the bottom of every list, whether it’s healthcare, education, or vaccinations,” the party tweeted.

Ivey is the state’s second female governor and the first Republican woman elected to the position.