By Jonathan Deal
— MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama man who spends half his time working in Africa plans to run as a Democrat against Republican Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey.
Scott Ninesling (nihn-SLING') said Monday his job as a fire chief and emergency response supervisor for a liquefied natural gas plant in Angola requires him to spend every other month out of the country, but he believes good planning will allow him to mount a strong campaign during the time he is home in Alabama.
Ninesling, 42, grew up in Prattville and makes his home in nearby Pine Level. The first-time candidate is the only Democrat to announce so far for the lieutenant governor's race, but he said Democratic Party officials haven't paid him much attention. "I expected that, because I'm not part of the establishment," he said.
Ivey, 68, won two terms as state treasurer before upsetting Democratic incumbent Jim Folsom Jr. in 2010 to win the lieutenant governor's office. She kicked off her re-election campaign in late June and, so far, has no opposition in the Republican primary, set for June 3, 2014.
Ninesling said he decided to challenge Ivey because he was upset with how the state's prepaid college tuition plan ran into financial trouble when Ivey was administering the program as state treasurer. Ninesling, who has a 2-year-old child, said his child was not in the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition program, but he feels sorry for parents who are now struggling with how to pay for their children's college education after not getting the full in-state tuition they expected from PACT.
He accused Ivey of using the lieutenant governor's position to help the Republican majority in the Senate suppress Democratic input into state government rather than presiding fairly. "This failure of performance and lack of leadership is not what the people of Alabama need sitting a heartbeat away from the governor's office," he said.
Ivey said voters wanted a change in the status quo in 2010 and she has delivered.
"Since being sworn in, I have presided over some of the most productive sessions of the Alabama Senate in our state's history and look forward to running on those accomplishments: service to our state, bringing jobs to our state and standing up for the right of our people against the overreach of the federal government," she said.
Ninesling has not yet filed any campaign organization papers with the secretary of state. Ninesling said he got home from his overseas job on Friday and plans to take care of the paperwork this week.
The lieutenant governor's compensation varies from year to year depending on whether the Legislature has special sessions, but it was $70,842 in fiscal year 2012. Ninesling said that if he wins, the compensation would be less than he makes now, but the position would be worth it.
The general election is set for Nov. 4, 2014.