By MALLORY MOENCH, The Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey aired a campaign ad Tuesday praising a law she signed that prohibits taking down Confederate monuments.
In the 30-second ad, the camera pans around a memorial to fallen Confederate soldiers outside the state Capitol building and a mural of black heroes by a county courthouse. Ivey slams Washington D.C.’s “politically correct nonsense” and says that when “special interests” wanted to tear down monuments, she said no and signed a law to protect them. She continues that “we can’t change or erase our history” and Alabama understands “to get where we’re going means understanding where we’ve been.”
The 2017 law titled the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act prohibits relocating, removing, altering or renaming public buildings, streets and memorials that have been standing for more than 40 years. The legislation doesn’t specifically mention Confederate monuments, but it was enacted when other Southern states like Louisiana and Florida were taking down similar memorials.
“We could all read between the lines,” said State Rep. Merika Coleman, a Democrat from Pleasant Grove who is black. “As the chief executive in the state of Alabama, to make a campaign ad that is looking at sites that are primarily Confederate sites, it’s a part of our history that’s a stain on the state of Alabama. To part of the population of the state of Alabama, there’s not anything positive about it.”
Coleman questioned whether Ivey would defend as vigorously the memorial to lynching victims that will be opened by legal advocacy organization Equal Justice Initiative next week in Montgomery.
The ad aired at a time of contentious national discussions about race and a lawsuit debating a Confederate monument in Birmingham. In August 2017, Birmingham’s mayor erected a plywood box-like structure around the base of a 52-foot-tall Confederate monument in a city park. The Alabama Attorney General sued the city for violating the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act.
In a court filing in the ongoing case, the city’s attorneys argued that the barrier didn’t alter or remove the monument. They also argued Alabama is trying to stifle opposition to relics that “mourn the Confederacy’s ‘lost cause'” — a cause that “sought to establish a separate nation fostering the enslavement of African Americans.”
Ivey became governor last year after Robert Bentley stepped down amid a sex-tinged scandal. Three Republicans and six Democrats are seeking to challenge her. The primaries are June 5.
Coleman said the ad appealed to conservative voters in the competitive primary, but that such rhetoric might not succeed in the final statewide race.
“If she was trying to rare up her base, maybe she did that. It doesn’t fare well in general election. That’s the primary process,” Coleman said. “Many of us will not forget this ad.”
The ad will run on TV all week.