Alabama’s Governor Makes Surprising Endorsement In Presidential Race

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Alabama’s Republican Gov. Robert Bentley surprised political observers in the Yellowhammer State on Monday by announcing his endorsement of Ohio Gov. John Kasich for president.

“John Kasich’s success in putting conservative ideas to work in Ohio — cutting taxes $5 billion, turning an $8 billion shortfall into a $2 billion surplus, and creating 350,000 new jobs—are all strengths he will have as president,” Bentley said Monday.

Kasich, who traveled to Birmingham to accept Bentley’s endorsement at a Monday morning event, said he hadn’t actively sought the Alabamian’s support but was “humbled” to get it.

“The endorsement of a fellow governor is special, especially from someone like Governor Bentley who brings so much to his work and who has such an incredible record of service to his state and our country,” he said. “What’s also significant to me is that Gov. Bentley reached out to our campaign, unsolicited, to offer his support.”

But Bentley’s endorsement of Kasich is confusing state-based Republicans on several levels: Kasich is running as a moderate Republican on several issues, including immigration, Common Core and gay marriage — stances that don’t sit well with some conservative voters in the deep South. Also, while Bentley didn’t endorse a candidate in the 2012 race, he later said he voted for former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

And Kasich may also have a difficult time using the Bentley endorsement to demonstrate support from conservatives.

Alabama talk radio host Sean Sullivan said Monday the Bentley endorsement is “not exactly a path to victory for Kasich in Alabama.”

That’s partly because Bentley has been battling the legislature over his desire to raise state taxes to close the state’s budget shortfall, something conservatives in the state have been railing against.

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