- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 14, 2017

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Former Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb announced Wednesday that she is running for governor in 2018.

Cobb, one of the last Democrats to win statewide office in Alabama before Republicans put a lock on the state in 2013, had been mulling a run for several months. She said she made the decision after talking with her family and traveling the state.

“There is a yearning from people for courageous leadership,” Cobb said in an interview. “It’s time to have a governor who cares more about people than party.”

In a state that has seen a series of scandals hit GOP officeholders at the top of all three branches of government, Cobb said she believes voters are looking for honesty, both ethically and when it comes to problems facing the state.

“We’re near 50th in all the good categories and first in all the bad ones,” Cobb said in a written statement announcing her candidacy. “It is time for honesty about what we need to do to move Alabama in the right direction.”

Cobb, 61, is a native of Evergreen and a graduate of the University of Alabama. She was one of the youngest judges on the bench in 1981 when she was appointed as a district judge in Conecuh County. She was the first woman elected to the Court of Criminal Appeals, where she served two terms, and as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. She stepped down from the Supreme Court in 2011, citing family concerns and the need to care for her elderly mother.

Cobb said her priorities include job creation, infrastructure development and protecting Medicaid. While she is not supporting any particular options at this time for Medicaid funding, she said it is crucial people understand that the program benefits all Alabamians, not just those on Medicaid rolls, by keeping rural hospitals open.

Alabama is a deeply red state: Voters have not elected a Democrat as governor since 1998, and Cobb was one of the last Democrats to win statewide election in Alabama before Republicans took over in 2013.

But Cobb said she is optimistic the “right Democrat” can win.

“What we are seeing around the state is people coming to the middle, which is where I am,” said Cobb, who endorsed Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions to be attorney general.

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