Political News

Bentley's successor in Alabama state's 2nd female governor

Posted April 10

— With Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley resigning one step ahead of an impeachment hearing, his successor becomes the state's second female governor and the first to rise through the political ranks on her own.

Kay Ivey, the first Republican woman elected lieutenant governor of Alabama, is also the first Republican to hold that office for two straight terms.

Alabama's first female governor was Lurleen Wallace, wife of four-term Gov. George C. Wallace. She ran as a surrogate for her still-powerful husband in 1966 when he couldn't seek re-election because of term limits. She won, but died in office in 1968. Her husband regained the governor's seat in 1970.

The 72-year-old Ivey is from Wilcox County, the same rural area where U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions grew up. First elected lieutenant governor in 2010, she was re-elected in 2014.

Ivey's biography shows her as an accomplished stateswoman who got her start in Alabama politics as a House clerk and later became the first Republican elected treasurer since Reconstruction. Although her current position carries respect, it wields little constitutional power besides being next in line to the executive office.

As the Senate's president and presiding officer, Ivey acts as a moderator who doesn't offer opinions on legislation but instead directs the procedural flow in her signature honey-dripping drawl, cutting off senators whose speeches have gone on too long or namedropping distinguished guests in the gallery.

In private, however, lawmakers say she doesn't spare them tough questions.

"She is well in-tune to the issues," said Sen. Cam Ward, an Alabaster Republican who's sponsoring a much debated bill to overhaul the state prison system. "I think she will be a steady hand for state government."

Ivey, who immediately assumed the role of the governor after Bentley's resignation, would hold that position until the next general election in 2018.

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