MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday announced that she is running for governor in 2018, seeking the office that she was catapulted to five months ago when her predecessor resigned in a cloud of scandal.
Ivey, a Republican, had been the state’s lieutenant governor, and became governor in April when then-Gov. Robert Bentley resigned on the same day lawmakers opened impeachment hearings amid the fallout of his alleged affair with a staffer.
“I took over at one of that darkest times in our state’s memory. I’m proud to say we’ve steadied the ship. Now it’s time to steer it to continued conservative progress and prosperity,” Ivey said in a statement announcing her campaign.
The announcement was not a surprise since Ivey had been gearing up campaign machinery for weeks. She created a campaign committee and finance records filed Tuesday show she had already raised $1 million for her then-unannounced campaign.
One of Ivey’s first major decisions as governor was to move up the special election to fill Jeff Sessions’ U.S. Senate seat to this year. Bentley had scheduled it for 2018, which would have avoided the cost of a special election but also would have allowed the person he appointed to take his place to hold the seat longer.
In her first months in office, Ivey signed into law several major pieces of legislation, including bills that created tax breaks to help recruit industries to the state, stop judges from being able to impose the death penalty when jurors recommended life imprisonment, and block the removal of longstanding historic monuments, including Confederate ones.
Her fledgling administration has its first major challenge before it in addressing a federal judge’s ruling mental health care in state prisons is so “horrendously inadequate” that it violates the U.S. Constitution.
Ivey, a native of Wilcox County, is Alabama’s second female governor.
She will face several GOP challengers in 2018.
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington, state Sen. Bill Hightower and corrections officer Stacy George have also announced bids for governor.
“I welcome Governor Ivey to the discussions we have been having over the last few months – conversations about jobs, infrastructure, and education,” Battle said in a Thursday statement.
Former Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb is running as a Democrat.