By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – In last week’s edition of Inside Alabama Politics, we speculated on the likelihood of businessman Tim James and former U.S. Ambassador Lynda Blanchard running in the GOP primary against Gov. Kay Ivey.
James, of course, is the son of former Gov. Fob James and has run twice for governor before, coming up short in the primaries in 1998 and 2010. IAP first reported James’ interest in the race in late June. The businessman had been mulling over a run for months and has been leaning toward jumping in, according to those familiar with his thinking.
Now, a press conference has been scheduled for Wednesday on the Alabama Capitol steps. Is this an announcement to enter the race? As the Magic 8-ball would say, all signs point to yes. You don’t schedule a press conference for the Capitol steps unless you’re prepared to pull the trigger, right? But, alas, it is not. Sources close to James say it is not a campaign announcement, but rather an event meant to highlight James’ opposition to Critical Race Theory, transgenderism and yoga.
When preparing to run for governor, it’s always important to lay the groundwork message wise, and that’s what James appears to be doing. Still, you don’t want to tease too much. State media has grown tired of State Auditor Jim Zeigler’s schtick of weekly pronouncements that he might one day maybe run and the latest developments of an exploratory committee that is not really even a real thing in state politics.
It would seem Tim James wants in the race but he still has to say so.
Blanchard was former President Donald Trump’s ambassador to Slovenia and is, as of this writing, officially running for U.S. Senate. Speculation has percolated for months that Blanchard was preparing to fold up her Senate campaign and take a shot at Ivey. Like James, much of the speculation was tied to the idea that a Trump endorsement was gettable. Multiple sources tell Alabama Daily News that Blanchard has been hard at work in that regard, meeting with the former president and several within his orbit about helping her out with an endorsement. Word is that Blanchard took the ADN / Cygnal polling numbers on the gubernatorial ballot test as an opening, with Ivey only receiving 41% support and 34% remaining undecided. Trump has not given an endorsement but, according to some with knowledge of the situation, remains open to it if Blanchard can gain traction. The two met recently at Trump’s golf club in New Jersey.
Blanchard has also parted ways with her Senate campaign consulting team, including Jeff Roe’s Axiom. Jonathan Barbee is now doing communications consulting for Blanchard. A recent press release sent by Barbee on behalf of Blanchard contained 341 words responding to President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate announcement but not one mentioning she’s a candidate for U.S. Senate.
It would seem Lynda Blanchard is in as well.