Very Impressive, High Steppin’ Victory for Gov. Ivey
By Steve Flowers
Our popular high steppin’, pistol tottin’ Gov. Kay Ivey won a very impressive reelection victory for governor on May 24.
Ivey turned back eight GOP primary challengers to win the Republican gubernatorial nomination without a runoff. She garnered an amazing 54% of the vote and carried every county in Alabama. That is a feat not often accomplished, especially considering she had eight folks running against her.
However, her popularity is probably the reason she had no serious thoroughbreds challenge her in the gubernatorial derby.
Any knowledgeable political pro could look at the odds of defeating one of the most popular incumbent governors in the nation with plenty of campaign resources and walk away from that uphill battle.
After all, she had beaten a more impressive field in 2018, which included Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, without the need for a runoff.
Six of her male opponents were “also ran” unknown and still unknown candidates. The seventh male in the race, Tim James, whose claim to fame is that his daddy was governor, is becoming a perennial candidate. He has run three times and finished third three times. He got a respectable 15%, but he spent $5.7 million to get that amount. If he tries again, he will be considered in the Shorty Price category.
The only other female in the race was first-time candidate Lindy Blanchard. She finished second to Ivey with 18%. Therefore, the two females running for governor finished first and second. However, there is a world of difference in getting 54% and 18%. Blanchard is a nice lady. If you meet her, you cannot help but like her. She spent an amazing $11 million of her own money. That equates to about $100 per vote. That may be a new record. That should tell her that she just might not be cut out for politics. Neither she nor James ever got any traction or resonated.
The fact that Blanchard and James spent most of their $16 million combined on negative ads, and I might add disingenuous ads against Ivey, is even more of a testament of how popular and resilient Ivey remains.
I said from the get-go that Ivey would win without a runoff and felt that way to the end. I have to admit that the night of the election when it appeared that the turnout was going to be lighter than expected, I wondered privately if she might dip below 50%. However, she outperformed and got about 54%.
Ivey and her team ran a flawless campaign. Her TV ads were folksy and effective. She did not take anything for granted. She never said a bad word about any of her opponents. In fact, she never acknowledged them or called their name. Even in her victory speech, she said we have got to keep running hard against our Democratic opponent. Even though winning a statewide gubernatorial race as a Democrat is extremely unlikely. Winning the GOP primary for governor in the Heart of Dixie is tantamount to election.
Kay Ivey’s 2022 reelection victory is almost as remarkable as her mentor and idol and our only other female governor, Lurleen Wallace’s 1966 landslide victory.
There are several other constitutional offices that will be decided on June 21. The Secretary of State runoff race will be the closest to watch. State Rep. Allen and two-term State Auditor Jim Ziegler are notched in a dead heat. Both got about 40%. Ziegler has name identification, having run a dozen times statewide. Wes Allen has the qualifications. He has been a probate judge for over a decade prior to his House term. This one will be close and interesting.
The state auditor’s job will be filled by either Florence State Rep. Andrew Sorrell or Kimberly preacher Stan Cooke. Cooke did benefit from having run for this job before, and he also received a significant hometown vote from Jefferson County.
Our two incumbent conservative PSC members, Chip Beeker and Jeremy Oden, have liberal, green-leaning opponents in the June 21 runoff.
Greg Cook won an impressive 55-45 victory over Anniston Circuit Judge Debra Jones for Place 5 on the Alabama Supreme Court. He will fit in well with our current conservative and well-credentialed state high court.
We will discuss the monumental runoff contest for our open U.S. Senate seat next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.