Kay Ivey, former lieutenant governor of Alabama, has been sworn in to replace Republican Gov. Robert Bentley following his resignation on Monday. Ivey, 72, will be the state’s second woman governor (although neither she nor Lurleen Wallace, who ran as a surrogate for her husband in 1966, were exactly awarded the position on their own merits).
Ivey’s predecessor has been accused of coercing state employees into helping cover up an affair with his senior political advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason. After an escalating year-long controversy, Bentley resigned ahead of impeachment hearings and was booked in jail on Monday, pleading guilty to two misdemeanor campaign finance charges. A lengthy and lurid House Judiciary report alleged, among other things, that Bentley had tried to use a member of his security detail to break up with Mason for him, that his wife discovered the affair because his very mushy text messages to Mason were linked to her iPad, and that he threatened his wife’s chief of staff, who at one point found the words “die bitch” scratched into her car.
Now Ivey will take over, and, although anything can happen, it does seem unlikely that she will humiliate the state of Alabama with leaked audio of herself declaring her affinity for her senior advisor’s breasts. Ivey, a conservative Republican who was elected lieutenant governor in 2010 and reelected in 2014, got her start as a House clerk and was later elected state treasurer; she has also worked as a bank officer and a high school teacher. The New York Times does note, however, that Ivey’s detractors blame her for the state’s nearly-failed prepaid college tuition program, which floundered during her tenure as treasurer.
In a speech following her swearing-in ceremony, she promised that her administration “will be open, it will be transparent and it will be honest.”
“Today is both a dark day in Alabama, but yet also it’s one of opportunity,” Ivey said. “I ask for your help and patience as we together steady the Ship of State and improve Alabama’s image.”