By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press
JASPER, Ala. (AP) — Republican gubernatorial hopeful and evangelist Scott Dawson said if people are surprised to see him running for governor, they are not alone. In a way, he is too.
Dawson said he got in the governor’s race because he was tired of the state being embarrassed by corruption, noting the number of recent governors involved in scandals. He said he sees his newness to the political arena as an advantage, not a hindrance.
“I’m one of us. I’m not a politician. The competitive advantage I’ve got is that everyone else is serving in office. I’m the one that’s been one of us for 30 years,” Dawson said.
Dawson is one of three Republicans, along with Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and state Sen. Bill Hightower, challenging Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey in the June 5 Republican primary.
Speaking at a lunchtime gathering at a senior center in Jasper, Dawson said some will argue the state needs a “seasoned politician” or a businessman as governor. “I am convinced more than ever before, Alabama needs a leader. Alabama needs someone who can cast a vision,” he said.
Dawson, 50, is a native of Ensley and graduated from Samford University and Beeson Divinity School. He is the founder of the Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association. The organization, among other things, hosts youth and pastor retreats and large-scale Christian revival meetings.
“I’ll go ahead and tell you I make decisions through a Biblical world view,” Dawson told the crowd in Jasper, adding quickly that he understands “we’re not creating a theocracy” and respects those of different beliefs.
While trailing far behind in monetary donations, Dawson’s underdog campaign has been assisted by prominent friends made during his decades in ministry, and whose names he mentions in his campaign speech. He announced his intention to run on the Rick and Bubba Show, a syndicated morning radio show; has turned to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for advice; and received donations from Hobby Lobby co-founders David and Barbara Green.
Dawson said he supports legislation that would take Alabama “out of the marriage business” by doing away with probate judge-signed marriage licenses. He said he also supports the repeal of the Common Core curriculum standards and would like to implement mandatory drug testing for students seeking to be involved in extracurricular activities.
Asked about education funding, Dawson responded that he thought the state has a “leadership issue” and not a “funding issue.” However, Dawson said he has declined to sign a no new taxes pledge.
Dawson made the decision to run in early 2017, thinking that he would be running for an open seat. Instead, Ivey became governor after former Gov. Robert Bentley resigned in scandal. She is seeking a full term after a year of holding office.
Dawson has criticized Ivey’s decision not to attend debates with her primary challengers, saying that she should be “vetted” for the position since she wasn’t previously elected governor.
Ivey’s campaign has said she is focused on official duties, and that her record is open to voters and the media.