By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
WETUMPKA, Ala. – Former U.S. Ambassador Lindy Blanchard officially launched her campaign for governor Tuesday, switching from running for the U.S. Senate to challenging incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey in the Republican primary.
Speaking to a crowd in her childhood home just north of Montgomery, Blanchard called herself the “conservative outsider” candidate.
“I will stand up for our rights against not just the liberal left, but the go-along-to-get-along, so-called conservatives who have run things in Montgomery for way too long,” Blanchard said.
Blanchard’s speech was sparse on any specific initiatives she wishes to tackle as governor but did feature frequent conservative calling cards of stopping federal vaccine mandates and concerns about election integrity.
She did not have any pointed attacks towards Ivey in her speech but overall expressed a need for a change of leadership and that her lack of political and governmental experience inside the state is an asset.
“Traveling the state, however, people made it unmistakably clear to me that they wanted a conservative outsider, not just in DC but they wanted a conservative outsider here in Montgomery,” Blanchard said. “A leader who will run our state boldly. Someone who is there to put the interests of the people first.”
Ivey told reporters at a Tuesday appearance in nearby Prattville that she didn’t even know who Blanchard was.
“I don’t think many people have heard of Lynda Blanchard; I certainly have not,” Ivey said. “We’re going to keep on doing what we’re doing and getting our message out. I’m proud of my record, and I’ll be proud to talk about it.”
Blanchard is the most recent candidate to challenge Ivey for the Republican nomination and joins Tim James, Dean Odle, Robert Burdette and Stacy George in the GOP race.
In March, Blanchard launched a campaign for the U.S. Senate, touting her experience as an ambassador appointed by former President Donald Trump and pledging to spend as much as $10 million of her personal wealth to win the seat. Her campaign never took off, however, as most public polls showed her in single digits.
Alabama Daily News reported in September that Blanchard was considering a switch to run for governor and that she had twice sought out Trump’s support in personal meetings with the former president.
In speaking with reporters after her speech, Blanchard wouldn’t say how those conversations went but said “that endorsement would be amazing.”
In response to Blanchard’s announcement, Ivey’s re-election campaign pointed to the governor’s own record of conservative accomplishments in a statement to reporters.
“She has signed legislation banning vaccine passports AND banning critical race theory, signed the strongest pro-life bill in America, and our law enforcement now has the support they need and deserve,” the statement said.
“She has banned transgender sports in our schools, stood with President Trump and protected our elections in Alabama. Governor Ivey has gone toe to toe with Washington — suing President Biden every step of the way to fight back against his out-of-control mandates, repeatedly making clear Washington will never tell Alabama what to do.”
The most direct criticism Blanchard gave of Ivey’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic revolved around the initial statewide public health closures of early 2020.
“I would have looked at it differently because you know the conservative Republican governors, early on, a lot of them didn’t do the lock downs,” Blanchard said.
The Alabama Republican primary is set for May 24.