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Kay Ivey races right into the Alabama Governor Race

Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama was never a moderate Republican. But in 2018, as she lined up for her first full term, she artfully dived into conservative discussion points in a gentle way.

Four years later, when she is running for re-election, she again airs ads with music that matches the family sitcoms of the 1990s. However, the message is very different.

In an ad, Ivey claims that “the left teaches children to hate America.” Later, she boasts that she completed “transgender sports” in Alabama schools. In another ad, she falsely accuses President Biden of “sending illegal immigrants” into the country, warning that “we will all have to learn Spanish.”

Faced with pressure from his right, Ivey has thrown down his image of himself as a traditional salt-of-the-earth Alabama conservative – leading the accusation of restrictive abortion laws and protection of Confederate monuments – and turned into a Trump-era culture warrior.

Her election year shift shows how even in the deep south, Republicans whose loyalty to the party is undisputed are tipping to the right and making red states even redder.

‘Politics is about doing what people like. Statesmanship is about doing what’s right, ”said Mike Ball, a longtime Republican state official who is retiring. “But before you become a statesman, you have to be a politician.”

“I think this campaign has moved her rhetoric too far – or far – to the right,” he added, though he still believes Ivey is the best choice in the primary election on the 24th, getting more than 50 percent of the vote .

Ivey’s increased ideological intensity goes beyond her ads. This year, she signed one of the strictest laws in the country restricting transitional care for transgender youth, and threatened health care providers with time in jail. She also signed legislation restricting classroom discussions about gender and sexual orientation, similar to parts of Florida law that critics call “Don’t Say Gay.”

Ivey’s campaign says it’s all a continuation of her record for conservatism, which has left her on a solid footing for re-election. Asked about the change in her messages from 2018 to 2022, her campaign said in a statement: “What has changed is that Alabama is now stronger than ever.”

Ivey’s entry into politics was gradual. Prior to her inauguration, she worked as a high school teacher, bank employee, and assistant director of the Alabama Development Office.

Then, in 2003, Ivey became Alabama’s first Republican treasurer since the reconstruction. In 2011, she won the election as lieutenant governor. Six years later, she became governor when the sitting man resigned as a result of a sex scandal.

When she participated in her race for re-election in 2018, Ivey faced several primary challengers. She ran ads that strengthened her conservative bona fides while keeping a steady tone.

The Alabama NAACP criticized her campaign for an ad expressing support for the preservation of Confederate monuments. In it, Ivey argued that we “can not change or erase our history,” but also said that “getting where we need to go means understanding where we have been.”

Another primary ad showed two men on a shooting range getting ready to shoot at their targets. Then someone hits the target first. The camera turns to Ivey – a silver-haired woman in her 70s – with a gun in her hands.

After this primary election, her catalog of election ads included titles such as “My Dog Bear”, “Dreams Come True” and “A Former Teacher”.

Now that Ivey is once again fighting in a primary election, her first ads make it clear that she is anti-critical race theory, anti-abortion, anti-Biden and pro-Trump. So has her campaign renewed the 2018 ad on the shooting range, where one of the men said Ivey “kicks so much liberally that her legs are tired.”

A few weeks ago, things really took a turn.

The ads retain the same peply music, and Ivey still smiles as she tells, but the language crosses into new territory. In the one that accuses Biden of “sending illegal immigrants,” she says, “My message to Biden: No, Jose.”

Representative Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, told MSNBC that the ad was “pure racist ignorance, in your face.”

In another ad, Ivey erroneously declares that the election was stolen from Donald Trump – a departure from previous ads in which she simply said she had worked to ensure Alabama’s election was safe. “The left is probably offended,” she says. “So be it.”

But Ivey’s ads are not the most provocative of the Republican primary for governor. That distinction would likely go to Tim James, a businessman and son of a former governor, who said in an ad that “left-wing bigots” taught children things like that there are “50 sexes.”

Another candidate, Lynda Blanchard, a businesswoman and former diplomat, aired an ad criticizing Ivey for suggesting that unvaccinated people were to blame for a protracted pandemic.

Ivey opened himself up to a primary challenge in part by extending a mask mandate in the spring of 2021, as many other GOP governors lifted them.

After Biden was inaugurated, Ivey tweeted her congratulations to him and Kamala Harris. And she was one of just a few Republican governors who participated in a November 2020 call for the pandemic with Biden when he was elected president.

Ivey’s campaign rejects reports of a rift between her and Trump that has not approved a candidate in the race. Asked about their relationship, a spokesman for Ivey said: “Governor Ivey has a good relationship with President Trump and will welcome his support and support. We must win on May 24.” A spokesman for Trump did not respond to a request for comment.

Mike Ball, the retiring lawmaker in Alabama, offered a deeper explanation of Ivey’s political calculation.

While the governor is partially responding to her primary challengers, he said, she is also responding to Alabama legislation, which Ball said was the true initiator of the latest health care legislation for transgender youth.

“She really had to sign it with the election, because they would have killed her if she did not,” said Ball, who did not vote.

Ball said that if Ivey won again, he thought she would rule with a more moderate agenda than her campaign messages suggest, perhaps addressing prison reforms and transparency in government.

“I think she’s been around long enough not to drink anyone’s Kool-Aid for a long time,” he said. “But she has also been enough to know what she has to do – that you have to build coalitions of support and you can not rule against the will of the people.”

  • Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, feared after the riots on January 6 that several right-wing extremist members of Congress would incite violence against other lawmakers and identify more by name as security risks in private conversations with party leaders, our colleagues Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin recounts.

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott chartered buses to send migrants to Washington in an attempt to rattle President Biden. But, Eileen Sullivan and Edgar Sandoval report, Abbott’s actions have actually fitted into Biden’s strategy of working with state and local governments to support migrants.

  • The two frontrunners in the Republican primary for the Senate in Pennsylvania – Mehmet Oz and David McCormick – debated for the first time on Monday. Reid Epstein describes how the face-off played out.

listening post

It turns out that Kristina Karamo has opinions on much more than how to manage elections.

Karamo, who was approved by the Republican Party of Michigan on Saturday in her bid for Secretary of State, is in favor of many of the usual conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election. on the subject carefully examined.

But Karamo is also a prolific podcaster, hosting a now-defunct show about Christian “theology, culture and politics” called Solid Food. The showers tend to be delivered in a monologue, and these monologues have an unstructured, stream-of-consciousness quality to them.

The commentary illustrates why some Republicans in Michigan have warned that it could be dangerous for the party to field candidates like Karamo in a parliamentary election, allowing Democrats to paint the GOP as promoting fringe views. Karamo did not respond to a request for comment.

Sex is a recurring topic of discussion on her podcast: Karamo launched a program on September 17, 2020, declaring, “Satan orchestrated the sexual revolution to pull people away from God and bind people to sexual transgression.”

She goes on to claim that Alfred Kinsey, the American biologist known for his groundbreaking research into human sexuality, “was completely into Satanism” – and quickly changed it to say that Kinsey “never necessarily proclaimed allegiance to Lucifer, but he was inspired by Satanists for their festivity. “

In another podcast episode a day later, Karamo describes rapper Cardi B as a tool for “Lucifer”.

She also describes yoga as a “satanic ritual.”

“This is not just dancing to dance,” Karamo says. “It’s summoning a demon. Even yoga. The word ‘yoga’ really means ‘yoke to Brahman’. So people think they’re doing exercises. No, you’re actually doing – a satanic ritual and do not even know it.”

In another episode, on November 24, 2020, after spreading scattered thoughts about political blackmail and Jeffrey Epstein, Karamo initiates a lengthy discussion about “sexual deviation.”

“There are people who are willing to be eternally separated from God for an orgasm,” Karamo says. “It’s wild to me.”

A professor at Wayne County Community College, Karamo most recently taught a class on career and professional development.

Presented with Karamo’s comments, Jason Roe, a former executive director of the Michigan Republican Party, said simply, “Wow. Michigan is going crazy.”

– Leah and Blake

Is there anything you think we’re missing? Something you want to see more of? We would love to hear from you. Email us at onpolitics@nytimes.com.

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