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Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Gov. Kay Ivey vying for GOP nod, but will team up for visit to Japan

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and Gov. Kay Ivey are competing for the GOP nomination in the governor’s race, but they’ll be on the same team next week, leading a delegation to Japan to meet with Toyota and Mazda officials.

The carmakers announced in January they plan to build a $1.6 billion car-making plant in Huntsville. The plant is expected to open in 2021, produce 300,000 vehicles annually and employ 4,000 workers.

This will mark Battle’s fifth trip to Japan and, according to -- Ivey’s first visit. They will fly separately but represent one delegation.

“This is just a trip to go and see our friends with Toyota, the friends that we’ve had for a long time,” Battle said. “And I also get to know our new friends at Mazda. They are great partners with us, and they’re going to partners in the success of the whole North Alabama area, the whole Alabama area.”

Battle said it will further cement the friendship between Huntsville and Alabama – Toyota and Mazda.

Battle met with Toyota executives Monday in Washington, D.C., and expects a full schedule and a quick visit next week.

The schedule calls for a full meeting day sandwiched between two travel days.

The trip comes with less than 50 days to go before the Democratic and Republican primaries set for June 5.