MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Toll road developer Tim James, the son of former Alabama Gov. Fob James, announced Monday that he is launching a primary challenge against fellow Republican Gov. Kay Ivey when she seeks re-election next year.
He filed paperwork with the state last week indicating he will make his third bid for governor. He ran in 2002 and 2010, when he narrowly missed making the GOP runoff, finishing about 200 votes behind eventual winner Robert Bentley. Bentley went on to win the post that year.
Ivey is seeking her second full term after Bentley stepped down in 2017 amid a legislative push to impeach him. She could face other challengers.
James, said he is entering the race because he believes many conservative voters are "anxious" about the state's recent political decisions. Among them, he cited a gas tax increase, a push by some Republicans to legalize casinos, a medical marijuana program and aspects of the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic such as past mask mandates on K-12 students.
"This is not who the people of this state are," James said in a telephone interview Monday. "It's certainly not what normal, conventional type Republicans believe in."
James said he is not vaccinated against COVID-19 although his wife is. He said he is opposed to putting pressure on people to get vaccinated, including the use of university mandates on employees.
Alabama and other states have filed lawsuits challenging the Biden administration's vaccine requirements on health employers, large businesses and federal contractors. Ivey, while personally encouraging people to get vaccinated, has called the federal vaccine mandates 'un-American, outrageous overreach.'
James said he thought the state should do more, including an outright ban on mandates. However, the U.S. Constitution's supremacy clause is clear that federal law overrides any conflicting state laws.
In a news conference earlier this year, James emphasized religious right themes and called transgender rights, critical race theory and yoga in gym class part of a "beast with three heads" threatening children in public schools.
"I don't have to tell you that many problems exist today in America, but they are pale compared to what this nation will look like if we lose this cultural war and America becomes a secular godless nation flowing to and fro in the wind," James said in September.
The race could become more crowded shortly.
Republican Lynda Blanchard, who was former President Donald Trump's ambassador to Slovenia, has scheduled a Tuesday campaign event in Wetumpka. Blanchard filed to run for U.S. Senate but there has been speculation she could switch to the gubernatorial race.
Stacy Lee George, a correctional officer and former Morgan County commissioner, is already running against Ivey.
Speaking about the growing field, James noted his father used to say that "a governor's race ought to draw a crowd."
Fob James served two terms as governor, once as a Democrat after being elected in 1978 and then as a Republican after being elected in 1994.