MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Gov. Kay Ivey announced Wednesday that she’s running for reelection, citing Alabama’s “bucket load of common sense” in its response to the coronavirus 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.
“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.
Ivey faced both 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.
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.
Ivey is the state’s second female governor and the first Republican woman elected to the position.
She had been lieutenant governor when she succeeded Gov. Robert Bentley in 2017. Bentley suddenly resigned in the midst of an impeachment investigation partly centered on his relationship with an aide.
She won election to her first full term the next year, defeating Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox as the GOP dashed Democrats’ hopes of making gains in the deeply red state. Ivey, who is two years younger than President Joe Biden, faced indirect questions about her health during the 2018 race, but easily won her party’s nomination and then the general election where she captured about 60% of the vote.
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 Democrats have announced for the race.