Election Preview: 2018 Alabama Gubernatorial Race

Primary Election: June 5, 2018
Primary Runoff Election: July 17, 2018
General Election: November 6, 2018

468px-Portrait-Governor-Kay-Ivey_
Governor Ivey

Republican Governor Kay Ivey will seek her first full term as Alabama chief executive after taking office in April 2017. The former Lieutenant Governor ascended to the seat after Governor Robert Bentley resigned due to a highly publicized extramarital affair with an aide. Before becoming Lieutenant Governor, Ivey served three terms as Alabama Treasurer.

Other Alabama Republicans entering the primary race include State Senator Bill Hightower, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, evangelist Scott Dawson, and Michael McAllister. Ivey has campaigned on her steady leadership and her handling of the Alabama economy after assuming office. Ivey’s internal polling from August 2017 found her in the lead, with 66 percent of respondents indicating that they would support the second female governor in Alabama history. Battle followed with 11 percent, while Hightower tallied with three percent.

Senator Doug Jones’ special election victory over Roy Moore in December has given Alabama Democrats new hope in a traditional Republican stronghold. Six candidates have announced plans to run for the nomination, including former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Sue Bell Cobb, Mayor of Tuscaloosa Walt Maddox, former State Representative James C. Fields, 2014 Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries nominee Doug Smith, minister Anthony White, and Christopher Countryman. While Cobb led fundraising efforts with more than $250,000, Maddox has quickly locked up the support of party figures and leaders, including the minority leader and assistant minority leader of the Alabama state house, eight state representatives and senators, various mayors across the state, and the West Alabama AFL-CIO. Cobb, the first woman elected to chief justice in state history, touts her endorsement from national pay-equity figure Lily Ledbetter and other business and non-profit leaders.

If Democrats want success in 2018, they’ll need to close the fundraising gap. Ivey raised more than $2.1 million in 2017 and entered the election year with roughly $1.9 million on hand. Democrats will certainly remind Alabama voters of the recent scandals that plagued Republicans like Moore and Bentley. They will need a strong showing in the race to maintain momentum built by Jones. According to The Cook Political Report and Inside Elections, the Alabama race remains safely Republican.

Stephen O’Brion contributed to this report.

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