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Hartselle Enquirer

The Alabama Scene

Speculation about Hubbert continues

Saying that leaving a vice chairmanship of the State Democratic Party would allow him to work more effectively on behalf of Alabama Education, Dr. Paul Hubbert stepped down last Friday from that partisan leadership position in state politics.
“I believe AEA interest is better served by my leaving any leadership role in the Democratic Party and being free to work in more harmony with the leaders of all political interest groups to promote the improvement of public education in Alabama,” the 74-year-old Hubbert said a letter to State Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham.
That resignation cranked up the political rumor mill in Alabama this past weekend with speculation that Dr. Hubbert was going to retire from AEA and that State Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville would be the next AEA executive director.
I caught up with Dr. Hubbert Sunday in Orange Beach where he and his wife were taking a mini respite from the turmoil of politics.  Asked if he had heard the rumor, he said: “Well, yes I have. Roger called and told me yesterday.”
Asked if the speculation was true, the response, typically Hubbert, was: “Well, there’s no opening yet.”
I got the distinct impression that Paul Hubbert is not leaving…just yet.
“You know,” he said, “35 percent of the AEA membership votes Republican, perhaps another 20 percent or so are political independents so I have made the decision that it is in the association’s best interest for me not to be a political leader in any party. That doesn’t mean that we will not support the candidates who would be the best for Alabama’s children.”
Hubbert also admitted that he didn’t cross over last Tuesday even though one of the poll workers started to write him down in the Republican column. “No,” he told the poll worker, “I want you to be my witness that I voted in the Democratic Primary.”
Riley, GOP insiders were the big losers
State Rep. Robert Bentley’s trouncing of Bradley Byrne in last week’s Republican Primary runoff was a huge loss for Bob Riley and most of the Riley political money machine.  The lobbyists who have flourished under Riley’s administration were silently sneaking over to Tuscaloosa last week to make amends to Bentley for their support of Byrne.
I don’t think they were successful. The primary was a significant rejection of Riley by GOP voters and Bentley knows that. They were tired of no bid contracts and Riley giving his children or their spouses’ employers the keys to the state treasury.  They were tired of his trashing the state’s economy by eliminating the jobs of thousands of workers with his unwarranted attacks on legal state gaming establishments, a situation which will create higher taxes for all businesses because of the significant rise in the cost of unemployment compensation taxes. They were tired of the governor preaching ethics but taking millions from the Mississippi Choctaw Indian casino bosses and I could go on-and-on.
Mainly because of all of the above and the connections of the Byrne supporters to Riley, we saw a total rejection of the lawyer from Montrose.  He barely won his home county (Baldwin) and the county next door (Mobile) and carried just ten more counties in the state.
Had the AEA known about the dislike of Riley by a significant number of GOP voters, they probably wouldn’t have needed the ad attack campaign against Byrne.  In most of the Republican-leaning counties Bentley won by huge margins.  A good example is Blount where Bentley got 70 percent of the vote. In Riley’s home county of Clay Bentley got 66 percent.
But the cross over campaign by AEA did produce some good numbers for Bentley in normally Democratic counties.  The northwest corner of the state, mostly Democrat, went solidly for Bentley with higher than usual Republican numbers, and other usually solid Democratic counties showed increased numbers in the GOP column.
It is also astounding to me that Byrne or his handlers didn’t know that more than half of the AEAs huge membership does not automatically vote Democratic. Byrne and his consultants obviously thought they could win by trashing AEA and Paul Hubbert.
What they failed to realize is that you “don’t mess with Paul Hubbert without a fight.”
A blogger on al.com put it this way: “No need to play ugly (in November) Paul Hubbert is in control.”

Bob Martin is editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent. Email him at:  bob@montgomeryindepencent.com

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