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Republican Ivey defeats Democrat Walt Maddox

November 7, 2018
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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey speaks at Montgomery Airport before flying around the state on the final full day of her campaign in Montgomery, Ala., on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. (Jake Crandall/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Kay Ivey, who became Alabama’s governor last year when her predecessor resigned in a cloud of scandal, was elected Tuesday to a full term after fending off a challenge from Democratic rival Walt Maddox.

The Republican Ivey, who had been lieutenant governor, became governor 19 months ago when then-Gov. Robert Bentley suddenly resigned in the midst of an impeachment investigation partly centered on his relationship with an aide.

In her trademark drawl, Ivey, 74, had told voters throughout the campaign that she had restored trust to government. Her campaign ads emphasized the state’s record low unemployment and growing economy, while highlighting the governor’s folksy no-nonsense demeanor. She also emphasized her opposition to abortion and support of gun rights.

“Thank you. Thank you. Together, we’ve done it,” Ivey said to cheers as she took the stage to cheers at her election night party.

“The people of Alabama have spoken today loud and clear. They want to keep Alabama on the right track and keep Alabama working.”

Ivey is the state’s second female governor. She said her campaign made history as she became the first Republican woman elected to the position.

As the presumed front-runner in the red state, Ivey had refused to debate Maddox, as well as her GOP primary opponents, a move that was frequently criticized by her political challengers.

Ivey also faced indirect questions about her health as well as an accusation that she tried to cover up a health incident during a 2015 trip to Colorado and retaliated against the state trooper traveling with her for telling his superiors. Ivey denied the accusations and said she was hospitalized for altitude sickness and released a letter from her doctor saying she was a low risk for a cardiovascular event.

Ivey took a slight jab at her opponents in her victory speech, noting that some claimed she would never make it across the finish line or was “on her last breath.”

Ivey said she not only finished, but “finished very strong and I am just now getting started.”

After years of holding no statewide offices, Democrats had hoped to build on last year’s election of Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate. But they faced an uphill battle in a state dominated by Republicans.

Maddox ran on a campaign on establishing a state lottery to fund college scholarships as well as expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Maddox pitched the race as a choice between politicians who are content with the state’s low rankings in education, health care and other indicators and those who think it could be better.

The Tuscaloosa mayor in his concession speech offered his support to Ivey.

He told supporters they started a conversation about the state’s future that he hoped would continue.

“We have started a discussion that is not going to end with the results tonight. That is our victory,” Maddox said.

“You have talked about things in this state that have dared not been spoken, whether it was about race, whether it was about hospitals closing, whether it was about addressing poverty, whether it was trying to figure out what we do to address our schools that are not performing,” Maddox said.

Mary Anne Martin, 73, voted for Ivey. Martin, who has worked in children’s advocacy, said she liked that Ivey has had a scandal-free administration.

“We’ve had so many scandals in this state,” Martin said. “She is very hard-working. We haven’t seen any scandals.”

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