By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Republican Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday dismissed a challenge to debate Democratic Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox ahead of the gubernatorial election, saying only reporters and her opponent care about debates.
“There are only two people that ever bring up the subject. Y’all in the media and my opponent,” Ivey said in response to a question about it.
Ivey, who automatically became governor last year when then-Gov. Robert Bentley resigned in the fallout of a scandal, faces Maddox in the November election.
The Tuscaloosa mayor, who is running on a platform of establishing a state lottery to fund education programs, challenged Ivey this week to a series of four debates.
Asked twice if she would be willing to debate Maddox, Ivey repeated a statement from her campaign that Maddox should instead debate “himself” because he had been inconsistent on issues.
“When he finishes debating himself he can talk,” Ivey said.
Speaking to reporters after a Friday speech in Montgomery, Ivey said she believes the people of Alabama support her agenda. She cited a poll that showed her to be one of the most popular governors in the nation.
Ivey did not debate her opponents in the GOP primary.
Incumbent governors perceived as front runners sometimes avoid debates with challengers. In 2014, Bentley refused to debate his Democratic challenger Parker Griffith. Griffith responded by erecting a giant inflatable duck in downtown Montgomery to jab Bentley for “ducking” a debate with him. Griffith lost.
During the GOP primary, Ivey’s Republican primary challengers argued that unlike elected incumbents Ivey has never been vetted for the position of governor.