Gov Kay Ivey won’t commit to debate with other Republicans running for governor

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- WHNT News 19 has partnered with AL.com and TV stations across Alabama to give the candidates for governor -- Democrats and Republicans --  a chance to debate before the June 5th primary.

They’ve all agreed, with one exception -- Gov. Kay Ivey.

Ivey’s campaign said in February they wanted a debate, but so far, they’ve haven’t made any commitments to do so.

Ivey spoke to WHNT News 19 about the issue Monday and we asked the governor what her plans were for debating the other candidates.

“I am focused on letting people know my record, I go wherever I can schedule going, but I’ve got to govern first and sometimes there are conflicts on when they want to debate,” she said. “But my job first is to govern, and be responsive to the people.”

We followed up by asking if she is willing to debate or not, given that the other candidates, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, evangelist Scott Dawson, and Alabama Sen. Bill Hightower of Mobile, agreed to take part in the April 18 event in Birmingham.

GOP candidate Michael McAllister has been invited but hasn't indicated if he plans to attend, according to AL.com.

“It’s my understanding from the schedulers that we are committed, and I believe it’s in Mobile, working with the Restore Council and also the NRDA Council,” she said. “Those combined $1.6 billion in means for our state, so my schedule is already filled, as I understand it for the date in mid-April that you’re talking about.”

Ivey was also pressed about the issue following a speech Monday afternoon.

Paul Gattis, a reporter with AL.com, addressed the governor.

“Make sure that I’m clear, is that a ‘yes’ or is that a ‘no’ that you won’t take part?”

“I am open for the people of Alabama,” Ivey replied. “Just like I am with you now."

“So, what’s the next question?”

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, who’s called for a series of debates with Ivey, said Monday he wants Ivey to debate. Battle said he thinks all the candidates should be able to tell their stories and take questions about their record.