Ivey Warmly Received As New Governor

AP-

Auburn University graduate Kay Ivey, twice elected as Alabama's  lieutenant governor, was sworn in as the state's second female governor Monday after Robert Bentley resigned ahead of an impeachment hearing.

Ivey already has the support of Lee County lawmakers who have pledged support to the transition in the state's highest office.

Auburn Rep. Joe Lovvorn attended Ivey's swearing-in as governor to show her Lee County is behind her, he said.

"It's a tough day in Alabama, but it's a new beginning in a lot of ways," Lovvorn said. "We've had this cloud over the state ever since the problems began, and I'm optimistic moving forward with the real business of the state."

Ivey graduated from Auburn in 1967 and becomes the state's first  female governor to rise through the political ranks on her own, as she was the first Republican to hold the office of lieutenant governor for two straight terms.

Alabama's first female governor was Lurleen Wallace, wife of four-term Gov. George C. Wallace. She ran as a surrogate for her still-powerful husband in 1966 when he couldn't seek re-election because of term limits. She won, but died in office in 1968. Her husband regained the governor's seat in 1970.

Ivey campaigned for Lurleen Wallace as an undergraduate student during her time at Auburn, according to previous Associated Press reports.

The 72-year-old Ivey is from Wilcox County, the same rural area where U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions grew up. First elected lieutenant governor in 2010, she was re-elected in 2014.

Ivey's biography shows her as an accomplished stateswoman who got her start in Alabama politics as a House clerk and later became the first Republican elected treasurer since Reconstruction. Although her current position carries respect, it wields little constitutional power besides being next in line to the executive office.

As the Senate's president and presiding officer, Ivey acts as a moderator who doesn't offer opinions on legislation but instead directs the procedural flow in her signature honey-dripping drawl, cutting off senators whose speeches have gone on too long or namedropping distinguished guests in the gallery.

“I’m very excited to work with Gov. Ivey and looking forward serving out this term,” said Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn. “And having someone in office that will be a champion for Alabama and economic development here in the state.”

In private, however, lawmakers say she doesn't spare them tough questions.

"She is well in-tune to the issues," said Sen. Cam Ward, an Alabaster Republican who's sponsoring a much debated bill to overhaul the state prison system. "I think she will be a steady hand for state government."

Ivey, who immediately assumed the role of the governor after Bentley's resignation, would hold that position until the next general election in 2018.

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