MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Ten months after being suddenly catapulted to the governor's office, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Tuesday launched her campaign to win the office in her own right.
In her first campaign rally of the 2018 race, Ivey fell back on themes she has used since her sudden ascension to the office after the resignation of her predecessor in a sex-tinged scandal. Ivey said she entered office in a "dark, dark time" and has done her best to steady a scandal-rocked state.
"I'm proud today to say that, with all of you, that we have made it out of the darkness and are on our way to progress and prosperity," Ivey said.
Ivey, 73, had been the state's lieutenant governor. She became governor in April after Gov. Robert Bentley resigned amid an impeachment push and ethics investigation in the fallout of an alleged affair with a top staffer.
Speaking to a crowd of more than 150 at a rally at a hotel ballroom in downtown Montgomery, Ivey emphasized economic successes, including a record low unemployment rate and a decision by Toyota and Mazda to build a coveted plant in Huntsville.
Ivey said the state had to fight to win the project in a competition with other states and she was "proud as punch" the companies chose Alabama.
"I promise you this. I'm not done," Ivey said.
The kickoff rally, held a short distance from the Alabama Statehouse on a legislative meeting night, was attended by a number of lawmakers and lobbyists.
While she was not elected to the office, Ivey has the benefit of a brief incumbency headed into the 2018 election season. However, she also faces a crowded field of challengers in the June 5 Republican primary.
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, state Sen. Bill Hightower of Mobile, evangelical preacher Scott Dawson, and Michael McAllister are challenging Ivey in the GOP primary.
Hightower hosted a call-in town hall at the same time as Ivey's kickoff rally.
On the Democratic side, the candidates include former chief justice Sue Bell Cobb, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, former state legislator James Fields, Christopher A. Countryman and Anthony White.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, former Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb and former state legislator James Fields are among the Democrats seeking the office.