In Ala. Primary, Governor Defeats Teachers’ Union Official

By Joanna Richardson — June 15, 1994 2 min read

Gov. James E. Folsom Jr. of Alabama last week defeated Paul Hubbert, a teachers'-union leader who has clashed with him over education reform, in the state’s Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Mr. Hubbert, the executive secretary of the Alabama Education Association, lost the race by about 53 percent to 40 percent after a divisive campaign, despite forging an unusual alliance with some of the state’s conservative groups.

Mr. Folsom, a former lieutenant governor who assumed the top post last year when Guy Hunt was forced to step down because of his conviction on an ethics charge, is making his first bid for a full term.

It was the second unsuccessful campaign for Mr. Hubbert, the party’s 1990 gubernatorial nominee.

Mr. Hubbert, who formed a coalition with the conservative Eagle Forum and the Alabama Farmers Federation, was assailed by Mr. Folsom last month for holding up action on the Governor’s “Alabama First’’ education-reform plan. (See Education Week, May 18, 1994.)

It was drafted in an effort to satisfy a court order finding the school-finance system unconstitutional.

While some state officials dismissed Mr. Hubbert’s opposition to the bill as political posturing, he repeatedly questioned whether the Governor had provided an adequate funding mechanism. The Eagle Forum, meanwhile, criticized what it viewed as “outcomes-based education’’ principles in the Folsom plan, and the farm group feared property-tax hikes would be needed to pay for the reforms.

The $1 billion package, which had been approved by the Senate in the regular legislative session, was shelved after lawmakers approved only parts of it in a special session.

Reforms At Issue

“I think the prospects for education reform under Governor Folsom’s continuing leadership are good,’' said Cathy Gassenheimer, the managing director of A-Plus, a citizens’ group that lobbied for the Governor’s plan.

After besting several other candidates in the state’s Republican primary, former Gov. Fob James and State Sen. Ann Bedsole will meet in a runoff election later this month.

Like several other candidates in elections for the state board of education and local positions, Mr. James--who received the largest percentage of votes--had endorsed a “back to basics’’ education plan proposed as an alternative to Governor Folsom’s plan.

Stephanie Bell, the executive director of SCORE 100, a conservative grassroots coalition that favors the alternative plan, said the candidates who supported it had “won handily’’ in most state elections other than the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

In another hotly contested race last week, Gov. Terry E. Branstad of Iowa defeated U.S. Rep. Fred Grandy in that state’s Republican gubernatorial primary.

A version of this article appeared in the June 15, 1994 edition of Education Week as In Ala. Primary, Governor Defeats Teachers’ Union Official