I’m a firm believer that people who want to hold public office should not only be willing to, but excited to step out on a stage in front of all their would-be constituents and explain exactly what it is they hope to accomplish as dog catcher, city councilor or Alabama governor.
But as we move within three months of electing our next governor, it appears very likely the state’s sitting chief executive is going to do everything she can to avoid a debate. The polls have her up big and keeping her out of situations where hot lead could be flying is easily the most politically expedient thing to do, even if it is totally dismissive of voters.
Perhaps that wouldn’t be such a big deal if Kay Ivey had already been elected governor and we had seen her in action for four years, but that’s not the case. She got to sit on the throne just as the Luv Guv swirled down the toilet and has only held the crown a little more than a year. So she’s never stood up and debated with anyone about her plans for running this state.
Still, it seems unlikely she’ll change her mind. Kay’s been handled like a dozen eggs since taking office — gingerly packed in Styrofoam and riding up in the kiddie seat away from the meat and potatoes. Most of us newspaper types haven’t been able to get within a mile of cracking that shell to see if there’s actually anything inside. Given that, we really have no idea how she thinks on her feet or whether she has any actual plans for governing.
That’s exactly why presidential candidates always debate, regardless of how far ahead one might be in the polls. Can you imagine a situation in which even a popular incumbent president would refuse to debate at least a couple of times? But Ivey wants to be “president of Alabama” and her answer to Democratic nominee Walt Maddox’s challenge to a debate was to tell him to go play with himself. Or debate himself. It’s the same sentiment.
I figured I’ll just try to do my job the best I can and compare and contrast both candidates from the information most easily available to voters — their websites. After all, there’s ample room on Al Gore’s internet for both to thoroughly explain thoughts and plans without actually having to answer questions or stand up for two hours, right?
So I went to waltmaddox.com and kayivey.com excited to dig a little deeper. Of course the sites featured feel-good stuff about how great both are and their extensive resumes. Both candidates have spent a considerable percentage of their adult lives in public office, but we knew that. I wanted to get down to the nitty-gritty, so I slapped on the reading glasses and clicked on the “Issues” pages to see what each considers the most challenging matters facing Alabama.
The differences were rather stark. I’m not saying I agree with all of Maddox’s approaches, but he at least has made an effort to educate voters. Ivey might as well have posted the messages from the last 10 fortune cookies she ate.
Maddox’s page starts out talking about making Alabama’s elected officials accountable and links to a nine-point plan for ethics overhaul in state government. Too much to go through each here, but it’s primarily aimed at putting the smack down on grifters who use public office to enrich themselves.
Ivey’s first issue says, “I believe in God, and I believe we need to look to Him for the answers.” There’s no link to further explain what role God will play in her next administration, though, or if he’ll be paid through a dark money 501(c)(3).
Maddox lists jobs as the next most important issue facing Alabamians. He claims 600,000 of our citizens are either unemployed or working in jobs that don’t match their skills. His focus, he says, will be workforce training and making college affordable.
Gov. Ivey’s second issue says, “I believe every life is precious. As a pro-life governor I will always fight to protect the unborn.” Again, no further detail as to the scope of the problem or how she will do this, although it might be a good task for God. Just a thought.
Walt named roads and bridges as his third priority, claiming roughly 100,000 miles of roads in Alabama are “ranked fair, poor or very poor.” He has two links to detailed outlines of his plans. One explains the overall condition of our roadways and their costs in terms of lives and economic opportunities and proposes a 12-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase to pay for repairs. The other describes his success as Tuscaloosa mayor in alleviating flooding there and plans to take that statewide.
Kay’s third issue states, “I believe the Second Amendment is clear and it ought to be protected. I will always defend our right as law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.” Once again, she neither defines the issue nor provides a plan of action.
Fourth on Maddox’s list is health care, and he has three links describing his “Healthcare Plan for Alabama,” plans for the opioid crisis and a plan to improve the state’s mental health system.
Jobs show up as Ivey’s fourth priority, of which she says, “I believe my job is to make sure you have jobs. As governor I have fought every day to get Alabama working again. Over 14,000 new jobs and counting …” That’s it. Mic drop.
Maddox’s final issue is education, and his site features separate links outlining detailed proposals for educational improvements, school safety and — yes — a state lottery to help fund some of our financial shortfall in this area.
Ivey also touches on education at this spot, claiming simply that she thinks our kids deserve a good education and she’ll always “make sure our children come first” — even though they’re behind guns on her priority list.
Kay has five more undetailed priorities: making Alabama the best place for veterans; fighting for farmers, whatever that means; making sure first responders are honored; standing up for the little guy (Isn’t that from “O, Brother, Where Art Thou?”); and finally, rooting out corruption in Montgomery. Nothing about health care or infrastructure. They didn’t make the cut. Sorry, I-10 bridge.
After going through her website — a place where Gov. Ivey could have written thousands of words describing in great detail her plans — and noting she never once explains HOW she will actually approach any of her 10 stated issues, it’s no wonder Kay won’t face Maddox or the voters.
Maybe Maddox should debate God because as far as I can tell, He seems to be the only one who might know what Kay Ivey has planned.