MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox announced Thursday that he is running for governor, saying it is time to rebuild both the state economy and trust in state government.
Maddox, a Democrat, said in his announcement video that the state has a "crisis in our leadership" because of scandal and a lack of political courage to take on tough issues. He referenced scandals that ensnared top Republicans in the past two years. He also said that jobs are leaving the state and that rural hospitals are closing because leaders have not taken on tough issues.
"I believe in our people and I believe in our promises, but our leaders have left us in crisis," Maddox said in the video. "Making matters worse, when the people of Alabama needed their leaders to show political courage, what did they get? Silence."
Maddox said in the past 18 months, four state Republicans "have left office in shame." Republican Gov. Robert Bentley resigned as lawmakers opened impeachment hearings. The House speaker and former House majority leader were ensnared in criminal charges. Former Chief Justice Roy Moore, now the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, was suspended by a disciplinary panel.
"The crisis of leadership has led to a crisis in state government, where Alabama still ranks near the bottom in every quality of life indicator from education to health care," Maddox said in a news release. "Preserving the status quo is not a strategy for creating a brighter future for all Alabamians."
Maddox has been Tuscaloosa's mayor since 2005. He previously served as personnel director for the Tuscaloosa public schools and as field director of the Alabama Education Association.
This summer when he announced a committee to explore a potential run, Maddox said some people had urged him to switch to the GOP for political convenience, but he said that would be dishonest because he is a Democrat.
Competing against Maddox in the Democratic primary in June will be former Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb.
The Republican field includes Gov. Kay Ivey, who was catapulted to her post after Bentley resigned; Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle; state Sen. Bill Hightower; and corrections officer Stacy George.