Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, who was catapulted to the governor’s office last year by scandal, on Tuesday will seek to win the post in her own right and fend off a robust challenge from Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox.
The race pits the 45-year-old Tuscaloosa mayor — running on a platform of Medicaid expansion and establishing a state lottery to fund college scholarships — in his first statewide race against a 74-year-old Republican incumbent who has occupied the governor’s office for the last 19 months.
“We are at or near the bottom in everything that matters. Corruption seems to be the only thing we seem to be good at in Montgomery,” Maddox said at a recent campaign stop.
Maddox said it is “senseless” that Alabama is one of five states without a state lottery. In a state that has seen the shuttering of rural hospitals, he argued that Medicaid expansion would help shore up the state’s health care infrastructure and provide economic and health care benefits to all Alabamians.
The Republican Ivey, who had been lieutenant governor, became governor 19 months ago when then-Gov. Robert Bentley suddenly resigned in the middle of an impeachment investigation partly centered on his relationship with an aide.
Ivey told voters throughout the campaign that she had restored trust to government and emphasized the state’s record low unemployment and growing economy.
“When I took the oath of office some 19 months ago, I told the people right after we would clean up state government. We would restore people’s trust and we would get Alabama working again. Promises made. Promises kept,” Ivey said in a campaign stop in Montgomery.
The gubernatorial contest comes as Democrats are seeking to build on last year’s victory of U.S. Sen. Doug Jones but face long odds in a state where it has been 20 years since a Democrat last won the governor’s office.
Ivey told supporters on Monday that the polls look good, but they need to go vote Tuesday to ensure a victory.
Henryette Bailey, 91, of Montgomery said she is voting for Ivey.
“She’s trying to help the people of Alabama,” Bailey said.
Bailey recalled how Ivey as lieutenant governor took time to listen to her as she lobbied for a change in state elder abuse law after a family friend was taken advantage of by an attorney