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Maddox challenges Ivey to debate ahead of Alabama election

July 24, 2018

In this Tuesday, June 5, 2018 photo, Walt Maddox greets frenzied supporters at Tuscaloosa River Market after winning the Democratic Party's nomination for governor. Maddox on Tuesday, July 24, 2018 challenged Gov. Kay Ivey to a series of debates ahead of the election, saying that voters deserve to hear the next governor's answers for the state's problems. (Gary Cosby Jr./The Tuscaloosa News via AP)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Gubernatorial candidate Walt Maddox on Tuesday challenged Gov. Kay Ivey to a series of debates ahead of the election, saying that voters deserve to hear the next governor’s answers for the state’s problems.

Maddox, a Democrat, sent Ivey a letter on Tuesday outlining a proposal for four debates before the November election. He followed with an afternoon press conference in Birmingham.

“As you know, Alabama is facing many challenges. We can both agree that we owe the people of this state an opportunity to hear directly our specific plans to address these issues and lead our state forward into the future,” Maddox wrote.

The Tuscaloosa mayor, who is running for governor on a platform of establishing a state lottery to fund education programs, proposed four debates — two in standard debate format and two town hall meetings. The debates would last two hours each.

Ivey’s campaign issued a statement taking jabs at Maddox, but not directly responding to his challenge to meet him on a debate stage.

“Walt Maddox refuses to say if he supports Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, it’s impossible to get a straight answer from him on gun rights, and he’s all over the map on abortion. It seems the person Walt Maddox should be debating is himself,” the campaign wrote in an emailed statement.

In an afternoon press conference, Maddox said voters “deserve better answers” and suggested that Ivey is hiding “behind the marble of Montgomery.”

“We deserve answers to the problems facing millions of Alabamians, and certainly I hope Governor Ivey would have more respect for the office than to dismiss answering the real questions of Alabamians as her staff did offhand,”

Ivey did not debate her Republican challengers before the June 5 Republican primary. Maddox participated in several debates before winning the Democratic primary.

Incumbent governors perceived as front runners have sometimes avoided debates with challengers. In 2014, when Bentley refused to debate his Democratic challenger, Parker Griffith responded by erecting a giant inflatable duck in downtown Montgomery to jab Bentley for “ducking” a debate with him.

During the GOP primary, Ivey’s Republican primary challengers argued Ivey has never been vetted for the position of governor.

Ivey had been the state’s lieutenant governor and became governor last year when then-Gov. Robert Bentley resigned amid a push in the Alabama Legislature to impeach him after an alleged affair with a staffer.

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