Power of Hubbert explained

Published 9:53 pm Wednesday, December 24, 2008

By Staff
It was 1971 and a 35 year old educator named Paul Hubbert took on the Goliath of Alabama politics, George Wallace, in the heyday of his political power and beat him. It was a remarkable David vs. Goliath victory that propelled Hubbert to stardom and power in Alabama politics. Hubbert became the King of Goat Hill after that conquest and, after 36 years on the throne, has never relinquished his crown.
Dr. Hubbert had earned his Ph.D. from the Univer-sity of Alabama at a young age and became a school administrator in Tuscaloosa. Then at age 30 he became superintendent of Troy City Schools. The Alabama Education Association was a toothless, social organization run by school superintendents. In 1969 they were without an executive director so Hubbert was approached to take the position even though thirty others had applied. After turning it down several times Hubbert finally acquiesced to take the reigns of AEA. It has never been the same.
At age 33, Hubbert became the executive director of AEA and quickly merged with the sister black organization of teachers headed by a 31 year old Joe Reed. Reed and Hubbert have been a team since 1969. That merger was a bold move in a 1969 Alabama boiling with racial tension. It was a quiet but powerful move.
Even though they had no financial resources at that time they stepped out and for the first time endorsed a gubernatorial candidate. AEA openly endorsed the progressive Albert Brewer over George Wallace in the 1970 Governor's Race. A contest considered the most volatile, hostile, memorable and pivotal governor's race in Alabama history. Wallace came from behind to edge Brewer in the runoff in the most racist battle in our political lore.
The legendary Rep. Pete Mathews, Wallace's floor leader, said, “I've been in the Legislature 18 years and during that time I have dealt with every kind of pressure group, but I have never seen anything like when the teachers found out someone was going to fool around with their retirement funds. When I came home and went to the post office, they were there. They were at church and when I went home I couldn't find a parking place in my yard. Now that gets your attention.”
When the vote was finally taken the teachers and Dr. Hubbert beat George Wallace in his prime by a vote of 92-9. Wallace called Mathews frantically and said move to reconsider. Mathews retorted to Wallace, “Reconsider? Hell, we done lost 5 of our 9.” That was the day Paul Hubbert earned his spurs. Hubbert, who turns 73 on Christmas Day, shows no signs of slowing down.
Steve Flowers a political columnist who served in the state legislature.