HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Alabama Governor Kay Ivey unveiled her first campaign ad during the SEC Championship over the weekend.
Ivey is seeking a second full-term as governor in 2022, but it looks like she will have some well-known competition in the Republican primary.
Two new candidates, Lynda Blanchard and Tim James, are emerging to challenge the governor.
James, the son of former Gov. Fob James, formally filed last week to run as a GOP candidate for governor.
Blanchard, who served as an ambassador to Slovenia during the Trump Administration, appears ready to switch her candidacy from the U.S. Senate race to the governor’s race.
Ivey’s first ad of the campaign season started running Saturday, featuring short references to critical race theory, pro-life legislation, election security and job creation, it wraps up, “Here in Alabama we pray to God, protect life and honor freedom. And as your governor we always will,” Ivey says.
News 19 political analyst Jay Town said Ivey is popular in the state and ranks among the most popular governors in the country.
“Gov. Ivey has great political chops she’s wildly popular, she’s going to be a tough opponent for anybody no matter what their funding or name recognition is in this state,” Town said.
Blanchard told supporters in an electronic flyer she plans to make an announcement in Wetumpka, Tuesday about her future. AL.com and others have reported former President Donald Trump said he’d endorse Blanchard if she ran against Ivey.
“Her campaign manager has close political ties to former President Trump,” Town said. “I think if she can prove herself competitive in the governor’s race here in Alabama, that she’s likely to get an endorsement from President Trump, which is a huge political gain.”
James barely missed out on making the runoff for governor in 2010. He was edged by Robert Bentley by just over 200 votes, while Bradley Byrne won the most votes in the primary. Bentley won the runoff and was elected governor.
“Tim James was a candidate with Bradley Byrne and Robert Bentley,” Town recalled. “That, we ended up with Governor Bentley and not James or Byrne, which is probably what the public would have preferred, had they had that looking-glass.”
Blanchard has loaned $5 million to her U.S. Senate campaign. She’s spent about $1 million on the Senate race, but there’s clearly plenty of money available to shift to the governor’s race, if she enters the field.
The Alabama Secretary of State’s office report shows the GOP gubernatorial field also includes Robert Lew Burdette, Stacy Lee George, Dean Odle, and it lists Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler, who has announced an exploratory committee.