MONTGOMERY, Ala. —
With 17 months left in her term, Secretary of State Beth Chapman plans to resign Aug. 1 and enter private business.
Chapman told The Associated Press she has an offer in government and public relations consulting that she can't pass up, and she will end her decade in public office to take the position. She has not released details of the new job, but she said it doesn't involve lobbying.
A few months ago, Chapman was being talked about as a possible candidate for governor, but she said she is pleased with Republican Gov. Robert Bentley and would not run against him. "He's not only my governor, he's my friend," she said.
He also recently appointed her to the board of trustees of her alma mater, the University of Montevallo.
Chapman served four years as state auditor before defeating Democratic incumbent Nancy Worley to win the secretary of state's office in 2006. She won re-election in 2010. By law, she couldn't run for a third term in 2014. Chapman said if that had been an option, she likely would have done it.
Republican Gov. Robert Bentley will appoint someone to fill out Chapman's term. Before her announcement, three Republicans were already running for the job in the 2014 election: Rep. John Merrill of Tuscaloosa, Crenshaw County Probate Judge Jim Perdue and former Montgomery County Probate Judge Reese McKinney. No Democrats have announced.
Before seeking public office, Chapman served as state executive director for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, appointments secretary for former Gov. Fob James, and press secretary for former Lt. Gov. Steve Windom.
Chapman, 51, said she has enjoyed being secretary of state, particularly expediting voting by the military overseas, implementing voter identification laws, working to ensure honest elections, and starting online filing for the many business records that her office maintains. "I believe I've created many things in this office that will outlast me and that's a good feeling," she said.
She said the death of her husband, James, two years ago played a role in her decision to take a break from public office, and she decided the time was right because a stable staff is in place in the secretary of state's office.
At this point, she said she's uncertain whether she might return to the campaign trail one day.
"I'm not going to close that door," she said.