Ivey throws hat into governor’s race
By By Bob Martin, The Alabama Scene
State Treasurer Kay Ivey has become the fifth person to announce she will be a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor in 2010. She launched her campaign Wednesday with a state fly-around to Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile.
Ivey joins legislator Robert Bentley, lawyer Bradley Byrne, Tim James and Roy Moore in the race for the GOP nomination. A 64-year-old native of Wilcox County, she has served two terms as treasurer and is prohibited by law from seeking the office in 2010.
I have known Kay since the late 1970’s when a group of us, led by Secretary of the Senate McDowell Lee, formed a Montgomery lunch group we called “The Friday Club” I have followed her career since then as assistant director of the Alabama Development Office, director of governmental affairs and communications for the Commission on Higher Education and her election as state treasurer in 2002. Before her work in state government she was a teacher, a banker and a hospital administrator. I believe Kay did a capable job in all her state government positions and see no reason why that wouldn’t be the case if she were governor.
In recent months, she has been in the news regarding the state’s prepaid college tuition program, which the State Treasurer’s office is charged with managing. The program, invested heavily in stocks, has gone the same way with most similar investments…down, way down, and there have been questions about the losses by those who have paid into the fund. Frankly, I don’t think the finger can be pointed only at Kay, but it has become an issue with which she must deal. “She didn’t mismanage it. An economic tidal wave swept over the world,” Ivey’s communications director, Mark Powell, told the AP.
State’s unemployment rate near 10 percent
Alabama’s unemployment rate jumped to 9.8 percent in May, up nearly a percentage point over the previous month. The Department of Industrial Relations says May’s figure represents nearly 209,000 unemployed people in the state. Counties with the lowest unemployment were Shelby at 6.6 percent, Madison at 6.9 percent and Coffee at 7.4 percent. The counties with the highest rates were Wilcox at 23.9 percent, Lowndes at 18.0 percent, and Dallas at 17.7 percent.
Alabama could have qualified for $99 million in federal stimulus money for its unemployment compensation trust fund if the legislature had passed a bill to extend jobless benefits to more laid-off Alabamians. Instead the state has had to borrow $50 million from the federal government to shore up that same trust fund and the decision amounts to a roll of the dice that the state’s unemployment will remain low and the state won’t have to borrow more.
The reason stated by Gov. Bob Riley and some Republican legislators as to why they killed the bill was that it would have cost employers too much money. So Alabama isn’t getting the funds, which could have prevented the cash-flow problem that made the federal loan necessary and if the jobless rate keeps growing this will have been an even more costly decision by the governor and his buddies in the legislature.
The remarkable Mr. Kimbrell turns 100
On Monday Fuller Kimbrell, the legendary political deal-maker for at least four governors, starting with Big Jim Folsom and including John Patterson, George Wallace and Fob James, and author of three books on Alabama politics, his recent one now on sale, turned 100. His son, Donald Kimbrell of Fayette, hosted family and friends to a centennial birthday party for his father at the Northport Civic Center last Saturday.
Dana Beyerle, reporting in The Tuscaloosa News, wrote that statistics show that only 31 boys out of each 100,000 born between 1909 and 1911 would live to be 100. On Monday “Mr. Fuller,” as I call him, became one of those 31.
I wasn’t able to attend the birthday bash, but was able to attend a pre-birthday party for him at the farm of Florence and Sonny Cauthen just south of Montgomery three weeks ago. Mr. Fuller credits his longevity to “good genes” but adds he has rarely been ill, that he never smoked or consumed alcohol, exercises moderately, isn’t overweight and eats his vegetables.
That must be the right recipe for those who want to begin a second century.
Bob Martin is editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent. E-mail him at: bob@montgomery