James opens gubernatorial campaign with evangelical appeal

James opens gubernatorial campaign with evangelical appeal

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Business owner Tim James appealed to evangelical Christian voters as he opened his Republican campaign for Alabama governor Wednesday, railing against the threat of “godless Marxism,” quoting scripture and claiming God has called the conservative state to lead the nation.

Standing before the white-domed Capitol with Christian music playing and beside a flag decorated with a cross, the son of former Gov. Fob James, after a prayer, attacked GOP leaders including Gov. Kay Ivey, who is seeking another term, over the approval of medical marijuana and an educational system that trails much of the nation.

James, a toll road developer who has said he isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19, said Republican leaders hadn’t done enough to fight vaccine mandates, allowing one to take effect at the University of Alabama at Birmingham before the state attorney general’s office intervened. James said he would fight “casino barons” to prevent Alabama from becoming “the Las Vegas of the South.”

While Alabama “has always been mocked for our values,” James said, it supported the formation of Israel years before it came a nation in 1948 and has a special place in the nation’s future. Support of Israel is a foundational issue for many evangelicals.

“We stand at the gate of our state Capitol and seek God’s forgiveness for the sins of America, and we decree in the name of Jesus that Alabama will lead America in the years ahead, back to its proper position of authority amongst the nations, of which authority was granted by God at our inception,” said James, who quoted scripture.

Angela James said her husband is a warrior who is prepared to lead a “crusade” and has the same evangelical zeal and spiritual discernment as his mother and father, who was elected to a four-year term in 1979 and reelected to a second term in 1995.

“The apple does not fall far from the tree,” she said.

James previously staked out far-right positions including criticizing legislation that allowed students to do yoga in public schools.

James ran for governor in 2002 and 2010, when he narrowly missed making the GOP runoff, finishing about 200 votes behind the eventual winner, Robert Bentley, who was elected governor that year and later resigned.

Former Books-A-Million executive Lew Burdette; Lindy Blanchard, who served as ambassador to Slovenia under former President Donald Trump; correctional officer and former Morgan County Commissioner Stacy George; and Opelika pastor Dean Odle have also announced their candidacies against Ivey.