- Associated Press - Thursday, April 13, 2017

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Seventy-two hours after being sworn into office, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said Thursday that her priority will be to “steady the ship of state” and restore the state’s image tainted after the former governor suddenly resigned in the wake of a sex-tinged scandal.

“No doubt there has been a dark cloud hanging over our great state. The people of the world, much less the nation, have all their eyes on Alabama and it is not for the right reasons. That’s very troubling,” Ivey said.

Ivey, in her first press conference, sat down with reporters at the Alabama Capitol to answer wide-ranging questions about her political philosophy and plans for her fledgling administration.

“My primary focus right now is to steady the ship of state and do some things to help improve Alabama’s image. That’s our challenge for the immediate future,” she said.

Ivey, 72, was sworn in Monday evening after Gov. Robert Bentley abruptly resigned on the day lawmakers began impeachment hearings. The hearings were focused on whether Bentley coerced staff to hide an affair with his political adviser. Bentley, who has maintained he did nothing to merit removal, said he wanted to save the state and his family more embarrassment.

Ivey said little about Bentley. Asked if she found Bentley’s actions embarrassing, she replied that “his actions were not complementary to any of us.”

She is the state’s second female governor and state’s first Republican woman to hold the position. Asked if she would run for governor in 2018, Ivey said she didn’t blame reporters for asking that question. However, she said it was too soon to discuss. “I have a few little months to make that decision.”

Other highlights of her comments:



Ivey said she also has not decided about changing the date for the U.S. Senate election to fill the remainder of Jeff Sessions’ term.

Bentley appointed Luther Strange to the seat and said the election would be held in 2018. Some argued that a special election should be called sooner.

Ivey said she has concerns about the situation, but also noted the cost of holding a special election.

“While I have some concerns about the whole situation, I also have to be very mindful about the impact it would have,” she said.



Ivey said a lottery has wide support in Alabama, but noted the difficulty surrounding any gambling proposal in the Alabama Legislature.

“The lottery is very popular in Alabama,” Ivey said.

Establishing a lottery, she said, would require removing a lottery prohibition in the state constitution. Removing that, she said “opens the door to all types of gambling.”



Ivey vowed to have “open communication” with legislators, adding that she thought that would be an improvement over her predecessor.

She said she hoped a prison construction bill approved by the Alabama Senate would “continue moving forward.”

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