Last week, Gov. Kay Ivey made it official by announcing her intentions to run for reelection, which formally ended any expectations of a high-drama election cycle for 2022.
A year ago, political watchers looked to the 2022 cycle, predicting it could be one of the most active in recent memory.
Ivey was not expected to run for another term and had that been the case, it would have shaken the ballot from top to bottom.
What did happen, as expected, was Sen. Richard Shelby’s announcement he would not seek another term in 2022. However, the horse race for the Republican nomination does not seem to be headed toward a photo finish, at least right now.
For entertainment purposes only, here are some more way-too-early predictions.
Gov. Kay Ivey is a prohibitive favorite in a contest that may draw opponents who know they have no real chance of winning, but will run as attention seekers setting themselves up for a future run.
While Ivey has a few vulnerabilities — the toll bridge fiasco and a gas tax hike, to name a few — her approval/disapproval numbers for handling COVID-19 are what could hurt her in a GOP primary.
However, when broken down, she is at roughly 50/50 approval/disapproval. The half that disapproves of her handling is also evenly divided between those who thought she went too far and those who believed she did not go far enough with her use of government authority.
Gov. Kay Ivey (1/9)
Opelika Pastor Dean Odle (64/1)
U.S. Representative Mo Brooks becoming a U.S. senator may not be as inevitable as Kay Ivey getting reelected, but he is in a strong position.
Brooks has already nailed down the coveted endorsement of former President Donald Trump and enjoys popularity among the Republican primary electorate for his loyalty to Trump throughout the Electoral College challenge.
A well-financed Katie Boyd Britt, Shelby’s former chief of staff and the former head of the Business Council of Alabama, could make some noise, but Brooks is difficult to bet against at this stage.
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (2/9)
Former BCA CEO Katie Boyd Britt (9/1)
Former U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard (50/1)
Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth easily won the rollout championship for the 2022 statewide election cycle in Guntersville last week. Aside from having country music performer Riley Green and Gov. Kay Ivey in attendance, he also had a quorum of the Alabama Legislature.
He’s one to watch for 2026 and beyond.
Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth (1/20)
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall also announced his intentions to run for reelection. If successful and he serves out his entire term, he would be the longest-serving attorney general in Alabama history.
He would surpass two-termers Bill Baxley and Charlie Graddick, given Marshall was appointed to serve the unexpired term of then-AG Luther Strange, who left to fill the U.S. Senate vacancy left behind by Jeff Sessions.
Attorney General Steve Marshall (1/4)
Secretary of State
The only reason many Alabamians know who currently occupies the secretary of state office is because of a bizarre sex scandal involving John Merrill.
Merrill was thought to be a rising star in GOP ranks but faltered after details of an affair leaked to the media. He has since ruled out any future bid for elected office.
The current frontrunner to fill his seat is State Rep. Wes Allen, R-Troy. Allen is a former Pike County probate judge and the son of longtime State Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa.
The younger Allen will have broad support from around the state.
State Rep. Wes Allen (1/2)
This may be one of the more intriguing down-ballot races, given it is lining up to be a contest of South Alabama versus North Alabama.
Jim Zeigler, the office’s current occupant, is another one of the interesting characters in Alabama politics; he hands out mini business cards to show he is a “waste-cutter.”
Zeigler’s wife, state school board member Jackie Zeigler, is expected to run.
However, another name possibly on the ballot in 2022 is State Rep. Andrew Sorrell, R-Muscle Shoals.
Both Zeigler and Sorrell have loyal followings in their necks of the woods, but neither are very popular within the so-called political class of Montgomery. That may or may not be a good thing.
Expect a possible third name in this race.
SBOE Member Jackie Zeigler (5/4)
State Rep. Andrew Sorrell (3/1)
U.S. House, AL-5
Although this isn’t really in our viewing area, there will be one congressional seat up for grabs in 2022, given U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks is running for Senate.
The seat has not always gone Republican. Up until 2010, the seat was occupied by Democrats, hanging onto support from a legacy of the Tennessee Valley Authority and labor unions.
It flipped to GOP when then-U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith switched parties. Griffith was defeated by Brooks in a primary in 2010 and has not looked back since.
The announcement of State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, not to seek that seat has given Madison County Commission President Dale Strong the broadest path to victory.
Madison County Commission President Dale Strong (1/3)
Assistant Secretary of the Army Casey Wardynski (10/1)
Huntsville City Schools Teacher Andy Blalock (50/1)
As more candidates announce, including Democrats, these numbers could change. In the meantime, the dominance of the favorite up and down the ballot shows most political watchers will not have much to see in terms of trends.
But who knows — that could change.
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