What’s next for the state of Alabama

State Capitol of Alabama

As the dust settles from Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley’s resignation last week, Hastings Wyman writes about what’s next for the state in an article for Southern Political Report Online.

Gov. Kay Ivey has had a successful first week in office according to Marty Connors, former chairman of the Alabama Republican Party.

“She fired the top cop, (Stan Stabler, a Bentley appointee who headed the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency). “She fired Ron Sparks,” whom Bentley appointed to head an agency for Rural Economic Development. “And she fired Rebekah Mason’s husband, which is pretty significant.”

Still the first, and possibly most important question going forward is whether Ivey will change the special election date for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Luther Strange.

Many Alabamians view Strange’s appointment to the seat, and the unusually long incumbency given to him without an election, as just another example of the Bentley’s scandal-plagued tenure as governor.

Ivey has the power to move the election to this year, according to the secretary of state, and that move could shake up Alabama politics in a big way.

Ousted former state chief justice Roy Moore, who is currently deciding between running for governor or senate, could be enticed to run for the seat if its moved up.

The other major political happening will be the emerging contest for governor in 2018. “Everything is very fluid right now,” says Connors.

“How Kay Ivey governs will affect the next governor’s race… Had Kay not assumed the governorship, I don’t believe she would run for governor. Now that she’ll have the power of incumbency, she might,” he said.

When it comes to the immediate future though, Wyman writes that Ivey and the Legislature “must put the Bentley matter behind them and move forward.”

State Auditor Jim Ziegler still has some loose ends to tie up, including auditing the contents of three official residences used by Bentley once he’s removed his belongings, but it looks like the state is moving forward.

“Ivey has already begun focusing on the state government’s business at hand, signing legislation that would give juries sole discretion whether to impose the death penalty, a power previously shared with presiding judges. And the GOP-controlled legislature now returns to a full agenda, which includes redrawing the lines in twelve legislative districts, funding the state’s Education Trust Fund, and passing the General Fund Budget,” Wyman writes.