BY KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and challenger Walt Maddox on Monday spent the final full day of campaigning hammering home their messages. Ivey touted her record after taking over from a scandal-battered predecessor. Maddox said Alabama needs to break from the “shadows of the past.”
The race pits the 45-year-old Tuscaloosa mayor – running on a platform of Medicaid expansion and establishing a state lottery – in his first statewide race against a 74-year-old Republican incumbent who has held three statewide offices.
Both candidates crisscrossed the state Monday rallying supporters in a last-minute series of rallies and press appearances.
Maddox said a lottery would fund college scholarships and free prekindergarten to Alabama students while Medicaid expansion will help keep rural hospitals open and provided needed care to working Alabamians.
“This is election is about the future. In 24 hours, the people of this state will determine do we stay in the shadows of the past or are we determined to become a New South state, to chart our own course to a brighter future,” Maddox said.
The Republican Ivey is seeking to win the office in her own right. Ivey, who had been lieutenant governor, became governor with scant notice 19 months ago when then-Gov. Robert Bentley suddenly resigned in the midst of an impeachment investigation partly centered on his relationship with an aide.
“When I took the oath of office some 19 months ago, I told the people right after we would clean up state government. We would restore people’s trust and we would get Alabama working again. Promises made. Promises kept,” Ivey said in a campaign stop in Montgomery.
Ivey’s campaign has emphasized the state’s record low unemployment rate and recovering economy.
Ivey has emphasized her record and said if returned to the governor’s office she would focus on “education and jobs and the economy.” She declined to discuss specifics.
“Not today,” Ivey said when asked if she could discuss specific for specific proposals.
Maddox said if elected, on day one, he would take steps to start a state lottery, expand Medicaid and stop the state from paying former Gov. Robert Bentley’s legal bills in an ongoing civil lawsuit.
However, two of Maddox’s signature issues, expanding Medicaid and establishing a state lottery, will require the cooperation of the Alabama Legislature, which is now under GOP control.
Maddox said he is mayor of a “purple city” and can work across party lines.
The gubernatorial contest comes as Democrats are seeking to build on last year’s victory of U.S. Sen. Doug Jones but face tough odds in a state where it has been 20 years since a Democrat last won the governor’s office.
Leonard Sykes, 73, of Montgomery picked up a Maddox yard sign at an earlier campaign stop. Sykes said he has relatives in rural counties who have seen their local hospitals close because of funding problems. He likes Maddox’ support for Medicaid expansion.
“I think he has new fresh ideas,” Sykes said.
Madelyn Alford, 69, of Montgomery came out to hear Ivey Monday. She cited social issues among her reasons for supporting Ivey, including Ivey’s support of two proposed constitutional amendments on Tuesday’s ballot regarding the public display of the Ten Commandments and writing anti-abortion language into the state constitution. The two proposed amendments are potential turnout drivers for conservative voters on Tuesday.
“I treasure life. I treasure what we stand on as a country,” Alford said.
Ivey told supporters on Monday that the polls look good, but they need to go vote Tuesday to ensure a victory.
Running a risk-adverse campaign, the favored Ivey shunned debates with both Maddox and in the primary — a move that drew criticism from challengers — and has held fewer campaign and media appearances than Maddox.
Maddox has acknowledged his underdog status, but said Monday he feels “very good” about the race based on internal numbers from his campaign.
Polls open Tuesday at 7 a.m.