Robert J. Bentley
|Bentley campaign photo (2009)|
|53rd Governor of Alabama|
January 17, 2011
|Preceded by||Bob Riley|
|Member of the Alabama House of Representatives
from the 63rd district
|Preceded by||Tim Parker|
|Succeeded by||Bill Poole|
February 3, 1943 |
Columbiana, Alabama, U.S.
|Residence||Governor's Mansion (while in office)
Tuscaloosa, Alabama (personal)
|Alma mater||University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
University of Alabama, Birmingham
|Service/branch||United States Air Force|
|Years of service||1969–1975|
Robert Julian Bentley (born February 3, 1943) is an American politician, medical doctor, and the 53rd and current Governor of Alabama. He assumed the governorship on January 17, 2011, having defeated Democrat Ron Sparks, the outgoing Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture, in the 2010 Alabama gubernatorial election. Bentley received just over 58% of the statewide vote and won by a margin of over 230,000 votes--the largest margin recorded for a Republican in an open-seat race in Alabama history.
Early life, education, and Air Force service
Bentley is a native of Columbiana, Alabama, in Shelby County. His parents, Mattie Boyd (née Vick) and David Harford Bentley, did not complete school past junior high. Bentley grew up in Columbiana, where he was a member of Shelby County High School's 1961 state championship debate team, and he became student body president in his senior year of high school.
After graduating from Shelby County High School at the top of his class, Bentley enrolled at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. While at Alabama, Bentley majored in Chemistry and Biology and graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree in three years.
From an early age, Robert Bentley wanted to become a physician. After graduating from UA, he began his studies at The University of Alabama School of Medicine. During his first year of medical school, he met Martha Dianne Jones of Montgomery. They were married on July 24, 1965. He graduated with his M.D. in 1968 and began his one year internship at Carraway Methodist Hospital in Birmingham.
Bentley joined the United States Air Force in 1969 as a captain. He served as a general medical officer at Pope Air Force Base in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He served as an interim hospital commander for 90 days near the end of his tenure.
In June 2010, the president of the Alabama chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America asked for clarification from Bentley regarding advertisements they felt might suggest that he served in the war theater during the Vietnam War. No fault was found in Bentley campaign's ads, as they did not show images that would represent him fighting or treating soldiers in Vietnam.
Following his military service, Bentley began a three-year residency at the University of Alabama in dermatology. He then opened his dermatology practice in Tuscaloosa. He founded a number of small businesses, the most successful of which is Alabama Dermatology Associates. As President of Alabama Dermatology Associates, Bentley managed the practice’s growth into one of the largest dermatology practices in the Southeastern United States. Bentley is a board certified dermatologist, and he served two terms as President of the Alabama Dermatology Society. He has also been named to “Best Doctors in America,” selected by his peers. Bentley is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology and the Medical Association of Alabama.
Alabama House of Representatives
In the Alabama House of Representatives, Bentley made it a priority to train primary care health care providers and to increase organ donation. He is responsible for two major revisions of Alabama’s organ donor laws: one specific to corneas and the other reinforcing the rights of organ donors by making it difficult to challenge their decisions.
Bentley helped establish the Alabama Medical Educational Consortium. His efforts included work on legislation to expand scholarships for medical training. Questions were raised by Sparks camp during the gubernatorial campaign as to whether Bentley's son, while in medical school, benefited from his father's involvement with the consortium.
During his time in Montgomery he served on the Education Appropriations Committee, the Boards and Commissions Committee, the Agriculture and Forestry Committee, and was a member of the Tuscaloosa County Legislative Delegation. He also serves as the Vice-Chairman of the Internal Affairs Committee.
2010 gubernatorial election
In the June 1, 2010 primary race, Bentley surprised political analysts by finishing second ahead of Tim James to reach a runoff election with Bradley Byrne. One of James' supporters, former U.S. Representative Sonny Callahan, endorsed Bentley in the runoff.
In the July 13 run-off election, Bentley defeated Bradley Byrne by a 56%-44% margin to claim the Republican nomination for Governor. Bentley came under fire from his opponents and some in the Alabama Republican Party for not completely disagreeing with the Alabama Education Association. He maintains that his record includes votes both for and against the AEA. During the primary runoff, the Alabama Education Association ran a series of ads against Bentley's opponent Bradley Byrne.
Bentley has stated he does not approve of gambling in the State of Alabama, but supports a referendum for its citizens to vote on whether to approve its legality.
Bentley was criticized by Sparks for allegedly attempting to improve his election chances with voters by being billed on the Republican ticket as Dr. Robert Bentley instead of Robert Bentley. Republican party officials had already denied the Bentley campaign's request by the time of the accusations.
Governor of Alabama
On January 18, 2011, after his inauguration ceremony, Bentley delivered a speech to a crowd gathered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Bentley's speech included a statement that those who have not accepted Jesus as their savior are not his "brothers and sisters". Bentley issued an apology through his press secretary two days later, saying, "The governor had intended no offense by his remarks. He is the governor of all the people, Christians, non-Christians alike."
In June 2011, Bentley signed Alabama HB 56, an anti-illegal immigration bill regarded as tougher than Arizona SB 1070. He later signed into law a bill that makes it a felony to perform an abortion after 20 weeks, except for when the woman's pregnancy puts her at risk of death or physical harm. It also requires physicians to report each abortion to a state database and compile an annual report of abortions.
Bentley and wife Dianne have four sons and six grandchildren. He is an active member of First Baptist Church Tuscaloosa where he serves as a Deacon and Sunday School Teacher. At FBC Tuscaloosa, he has been the Chairman of the Board of Deacons four times and a member of the Youth for Christ Advisory Board as well as the Family Counseling Advisory Board. Bentley has also served on the State Advisory Board for Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Currently, he serves on the Board of Trustees for Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Alabama and Judson College in Marion, Alabama. He is also on the Board of Trustees of the Alabama Medical Education Consortium, which he helped to found. Bentley was the 2009 recipient of the Christian Coalition of Alabama’s Statesmanship Award.
- Michael Tomberlin (May 17, 2010). "Campaign 2010: Robert Bentley criss-crosses Alabama, focuses on meeting voters in bid to win governor's office". The Birmingham News. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
- The Associated Press (January 17, 2011). "Prepared text of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's inauguration speech". al.com. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
- The Associated Press (November 2, 2010). "Robert Bentley wins Alabama governor's race". The Birmingham News. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
- "Robert Bentley for Governor 2010 - Biography". Robertbentley2010.com. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
- "Robert J. Bentley Bio". Business Council of Alabama. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
- Dana Beyerle (2010-06-24). "Vietnam veterans group president asks Bentley to clarify his military service". Gadsden Times.
- "Montgomery Independent: Did Rep. Bentley funnel state aid to son's medical school education?". Montgomery Independent. October 29, 2010. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
- Huckabee, Mike (2010-06-29). "Blogs - Huck PAC Endorses Dr. Robert Bentley For Governor In Alabama". Huck PAC. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
- "Bentley’s Ala. jobs bill nears passage". TuscaloosaNews.com. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
- "Welcome to the Alabama State Legislature". State of Alabama. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
- Charles J. Dean (June 21, 2010). "Robert Bentley formally kicks off campaign in Alabama GOP governor's race". The Birmingham News. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
- "Bentley and Byrne seek support of recent rivals". Montgomery Advertiser. June 21, 2010.
- Kim Chandler (June 25, 2010). "Campaign 2010: Bradley Byrne, Robert Bentley spar over AEA, campaign donations". The Birmingham News. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
- The Associated Press (July 22, 2010). "AEA admits role in runoff ads attacking Bradley Byrne (with video)". Press Register. Retrieved February 27, 2011.
- The Associated Press (January 15, 2011). "Alabama gambling vote unlikely in first year, says Gov.-elect Robert Bentley". al.com. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
- "Ron Sparks claims Robert Bentley changed name for politics", The State Column, October 8, 2010
- Fausset, Richard (2011-01-19). "Alabama governor: Non-Christians are 'not my brother'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-02-27.
- AP (2011-01-19). "Alabama Governor Apologizes for Controversial Religious Remarks". FOX News. Retrieved 2011-02-27.
- Fausset, Richard (10 June 2011). "Alabama enacts anti-illegal-immigration law described as nation's strictest". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 27 August 2011.
- Gargis, Peggy (15 June 2011). "Alabama governor signs ban on abortion after 20 weeks". Reuters. Retrieved 27 August 2011.
- "CCA ccanews". Ccalabama.org. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
- "Alabama-Alcorn State Postgame Quotes and Notes". Rolltide.com. 2011-02-18. Retrieved 2011-02-27.
- Gov. Robert Bentley official state site
- Biography at the National Governors Association
- Profile at Ballotpedia
- Profile at Notable Names Database
- Biography, interest group ratings, public statements, votes and actions, and campaign finances at Project Vote Smart
- Financial information at FollowTheMoney.org
- Issue positions and quotes at On the Issues
- Appearances on C-SPAN programs
- Collected news and commentary at The Washington Post
|Party political offices|
|Republican nominee for Governor of Alabama
|Governor of Alabama
|United States order of precedence (ceremonial)|
as Vice President
|Order of Precedence of the United States
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Otherwise John Boehner
as Speaker of the House of Representatives
as Governor of Illinois
|Order of Precedence of the United States
as Governor of Maine