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Incumbent to face Tuscaloosa mayor in Alabama governor race

Gov. Kay Ivey clinched the Republican nomination in Alabama’s gubernatorial primary race Tuesday, and now she seeks to win the office outright after her appointment 14 months ago, when predecessor Robert Bentley resigned in the fallout of a sex-tinged scandal.

She will face Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, who won the Democratic nomination. Alabama hasn’t elected a Democrat to the governor’s office since 1998, but the party has been energized by a win in December’s U.S. Senate race and seeks a resurgence in state politics.

Maddox defeated former Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb and other candidates. He’s been Tuscaloosa mayor since 2005 and is running on a platform that includes establishing a state lottery to fund a mixture of college scholarships, pre-kindergarten programs and financial assistance for the state’s poorest and struggling schools.

“It’s about the future of this state,” Maddox said Monday. “Do we want to provide the next generation with a better Alabama than the one we inherited or do we want leadership that remains silent to the problems of our times?”

In the seeking the Democratic nomination, Maddox obtained the valuable endorsements of Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and the Alabama Democratic Conference, the state’s largest African-American political organization.

On the GOP side, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, evangelist Scott Dawson and state Sen. Bill Hightower didn’t collectively pull enough votes to force Ivey into a runoff.

In campaigning, Ivey emphasized the state’s falling unemployment rate, a robust economy and the quieting of the Bentley scandal.

“I’m proud of all we’ve gotten accomplished in these 14 months,” Ivey said during a Monday campaign stop in Montgomery. “When I became governor, I told the people we would clean up government, restore the people’s trust, and we would bring back our conservative values, and we have.”

Bentley’s resignation came after an alleged affair with a staffer prompted an ethics investigation and an impeachment push against him. Then-Lt. Gov. Ivey became governor in April 2017.

Ivey’s challengers had condemned her refusal to debate. They indirectly questioned whether the 73-year-old is healthy enough to complete a full term. In response, Ivey released a letter from her doctor saying she has no medical issues that would prevent her “from fulfilling her obligations as governor.”

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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