MONTGOMERY — Lynda Blanchard, the former U.S. ambassador and current candidate for the U.S. Senate, will officially switch races and announce her candidacy for governor Tuesday, she confirmed to Alabama Daily News.
Blanchard is planning an announcement in Wetumpka, the small town north of Montgomery where she was born and raised, according to an event invitation.
Reached by email Monday, Blanchard declined to preview her speech, simply saying “I am excited and I look forward to Tuesday. I certainly hope to see you there.”
The updated materials are not the only makeovers happening to the Blanchard campaign.
Susie Wiles, a Florida-based political consultant with close ties to former President Donald Trump, will be the lead consultant on the race. Wiles’ status in Trump world is partly why so many have speculated that an endorsement from the former president could be coming Tuesday or soon thereafter.
However, Alabama Daily News has previously reported that, while Blanchard has sought Trump’s endorsement for governor in two separate meetings, Trump told her she would first need to show she can compete against incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey before he lent his name to her candidacy.
For her part, Ivey is playing up her own Trump bonafides in a new television campaign ad that ran during the SEC Championship game. In the ad, Ivey is pictured with Trump as he arrived in Alabama in his plane, gifting him a putter and shaking his hand.
Blanchard will join Tim James, Dean Odle, Robert Burdette, and Stacy George in challenging Ivey in the GOP Primary. State Auditor Jim Zeigler is also considering a run.
Several sources have told ADN that Blanchard has conducted extensive polling of the governor’s race, including message tests for possible lines of attack on Ivey.
In the ADN/Cygnal poll taken in August, Ivey led a hypothetical ballot test for governor with more than 40% of the vote, while more than a third of the GOP electorate remained undecided. Blanchard was not included in that ballot test as she was running for Senate at the time. The same survey included a ballot test for the Senate race that showed Blanchard was the choice of just 1.6% of GOP voters.
At least one other Republican is gearing up for a run against Ivey. Tim James filed candidacy paperwork last week.