Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has applied an aggressive approach to her reelection bid – making a statement guaranteed to draw national headlines and criticism; and then refusing to apologize.
One week ago, Ivey used her official campaign account to tweet a video message in which she blasted President Joe Biden’s immigration policy. This tactic is hardly novel on the right, but Ivey’s phrasing quickly attracted attention and accusations of racism.
“If Joe Biden keeps shipping illegal immigrants into our states, we’re all going to have to learn Spanish,” Ivey said. “My message to Biden: no way, José.”
My message to Biden: no way, José. pic.twitter.com/DYEPuDq3P8
— Kay Ivey (@kayiveyforgov) April 11, 2022
Ivey, who once sent the Alabama National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border at the request of then-President Donald Trump, invited further blowback when she added, “That’s why I sent national guard troops to protect the Southern border. That’s why we banned sanctuary cities in Alabama. The Left can try to cancel me, I don’t care. But here in Alabama, we’re going to enforce the law.”
Ivey was not canceled. Her profiles remain active on social media and her job secure, at least through the end of the election cycle.
She did, however, face the anger of the left and national media. Earlier this week Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) visited MSNBC’s “The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart” to discuss the ad in more detail.
“This is plain racist ignorance in your face,” Waters said. “And so, when you talk about responding, it’s more like ignoring and keeping up the fight against racism and discrimination and making sure that we do everything we can to get those who are elected out of office and elect progressive people.”
Waters later added, “We don’t have time to deal with that kind of stupidity and that kind of ignorance. And so, it is absolutely shameful that in this day and age that we have people who think like that, who speak like that, and who have access to the resources [to] purchase the kind of ads to just literally just spill that kind of mess across our screens.”
"It is absolutely shameful that in this day and age, that we have people who think like that…who have access to the resources to purchase the kind of ads to just literally spill that kind of mess across our screens." @RepMaxineWaters on Alabama Gov.'s campaign ad #SundayShow pic.twitter.com/VSrbQMRJ3z
— The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart (@TheSundayShow) April 17, 2022
Whatever Waters hoped to achieve through her criticism, she also unintentionally gave Ivey a valuable gift – a well-known, controversial, Democratic foil against whom Ivey could fight back.
“There’s nothing racist with telling the truth about the disaster Joe Biden is causing with illegals invading our country,” Ivey tweeted Monday. “I’m not going to be lectured by a liberal Congresswoman from California. We’ll handle our business in Alabama.”
There’s nothing racist with telling the truth about the disaster Joe Biden is causing with illegals invading our country. I’m not going to be lectured by a liberal Congresswoman from California. We’ll handle our business in Alabama. https://t.co/iiU5H0V7wp
— Kay Ivey (@kayiveyforgov) April 18, 2022
That Ivey is undertaking a strategy is undeniable, but it remains to be seen if Alabama voters will respond positively to the governor’s approach.
Ivey faces eight fellow Republicans in the primary, which is slated for May 24, with a primary runoff of June 8 if necessary. The general election in Alabama is Nov. 8.
According to a poll commissioned by Alabama Daily News and Gray Television, Ivey’s popularity was on the upswing before the release of her ad, and she tracked as the most popular candidate in the governor’s race. However, as of March 21, pollsters predicted Ivey would get less than 50 percent of the vote in the primary, meaning she’d have to overcome a runoff before moving to the general election.
An outspoken approach on immigration and against cancel culture is likely part of a larger strategy to gain enough momentum in the primaries. In Alabama, a dark red state, the true challenge for a Republican candidate is often in the primary.
At this time there is no polling information available to shed light on how Alabamans responded to the governor’s ad, but recent history indicates the majority will view the remarks favorably.
In the most recent presidential elections, 62% of Alabamans voted for Donald Trump, no stranger to polarizing remarks on matters of immigration.