That would mean Bentley, a deep darkhorse in the GOP field in 2010, would likely face what may be a formidable list of Republican challengers next summer. I'll get back to that in a moment.
Monday, the New York Times' FiveThirtyEight blog highlighted the 32 governors who are eligible for re-election next year. Among those are 10 incumbents who have negative approval ratings in their respective states, according to several polls.
Bentley's place among that group is uncertain. The Times listed Bentley as an unknown because polling data wasn't available. Regardless of what you think of Bentley's first few years as governor, the fact that The Times' report couldn't provide a reputable update on the governor's re-election chances is disappointing.
Now, back to Bentley's decision.
The governor has been coy to the press about whether he will seek a second term. He still isn't receiving his gubernatorial salary (because of his promise to forgo the salary until unemployment radically dropped in Alabama) and still hasn't announced his plans, though it certainly seems as if he will run for re-election. I'd be shocked if he didn't.
Who will he face? It's anybody's guess, but consider the possibilities: Luther Strange, the state attorney general; Mike Hubbard, the House speaker; and Roy Moore, the state Supreme Court chief justice. You never know, Bradley Byrne may re-emerge. He'd be a strong candidate.
Noted political scientist William Stewart at the University of Alabama told this recently to AL.com: "The Republican Party in Alabama has now clearly ascended into almost total control of almost all statewide elections: governor, Congress, constitutional officers, the Supreme Court. That ascendancy has created a lot of Republican officeholders in high positions and it has created a strong bench of candidates who probably see themselves as governor material. My strong guess is at least one of them or more than one will not want to wait until 2018 to run for governor."
2014 will be here before we know it.
-- Phillip Tutor