Hubbert in Ala., Silber in Mass. Gain in Races for Governor

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In an unexpectedly strong showing, Paul F. Hubbert, executive director of the Alabama Education Association, last week finished first in the primary balloting for that state's Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

With 32 percent of the vote, Mr. Hubbert ran well ahead of his closest rival, Attorney General Don Siegelman, who scored roughly 24 percent in the six-candidate field.

Mr. Hubbert's support fell short, however, of the majority needed to win outright the party nod to challenge the Republican incumbent, Guy Hunt, in November. The two leading Democratic candidates will contend again in a June 26 runoff election.

In Massachusetts, meanwhile, another prominent educator has passed a key milestone in his campaign for governor. John R. Silber, the blunt-spoken president of Boston University, June 2 secured the minimum 15 percent of support at the state's Democratic convention needed to4give him a place on the statewide primary ballot in September.

'Get the Hay in the Barn'

After two decades as head of the Alabama teachers' union, Mr. Hubbert had established himself as a master legislative lobbyist and one of the state's most important political power brokers. (See Education Week, March 21, 1990.)

He had never sought public office before announcing his gubernatorial bid, however, and many political observers wondered whether he was too liberal to win in a conservative state.

But Mr. Hubbert quickly showed himself to be a folksy, effective cam8paigner who did not talk only--or even mostly--about education. One of his campaign proposals, for example, called for putting prisoners to work on state roads and housing them in barracks-style camps scattered across the state.

In the final weeks of the campaign, polls showed Mr. Hubbert and Mr. Siegelman closely bunched with the two other leading candidates, U.S. Representative Ronnie G. Flippo and former Gov. Fob James.

On Primary Day, though, the Hubbert campaign's intensive get-out-the-vote efforts--backed by the formidable organizational muscle of the teachers' union--proved decisive.

Michael Tucker, a spokesman for the campaign, said that Mr. Hubbert had exhorted his workers to get supporters to the polls by likening their labors to a farmer's rush to harvest his crops while storm clouds loomed.

"'Votes are like hay,' he said. 'We've got to get the hay in the barn before it rains,"' Mr. Tucker recalled.

Mr. Hubbert finished first in most parts of the state and ran a strong second in Mr. Flippo's and Mr. Siegelman's home bases.

A major issue in the runoff contest will be proposals for a state lottery. Mr. Siegelman has focused his campaign on the need for a lottery, which he says should be used to produce revenues for education.

While not opposing a lottery, Mr. Hubbert has expressed concern about its uncertainty as a funding source for education. He has promised, however, to work to get a lottery plan through the legislature so that it could be put before state voters for a final decision.

Getting on the Ballot

By contrast, Mr. Silber scored his campaign success despite sharp conflicts with most Bay State education groups, as well as the Democratic Party establishment.

Mr. Silber--who last year engineered the management takeover by university officials of the Chelsea, Mass., school system--has been bitterly critical of the way the state's schools are run.

He accused the Boston School Committee, for example, of "certifiable incompetence," and suggested that its members had engaged in "graft and corruption," albeit not on an individual or criminal level.

But while those and other controversial remarks angered educators, they struck a chord among the voters and brought Mr. Silber close in the polls to his two chief rivals, Lieut. Gov. Evelyn F. Murphy and Francis X. Bellotti, a former state attorney general.

Even so, Mr. Silber's lack of support among party activists suggested that he would not get enough convention votes to be placed on the primary ballot. Editorialists and many politicians warned that there might be a backlash in favor of the Republican candidate in the fall if Mr. Silber was excluded.

At the convention, Mr. Silber won barely enough votes to reach the Sept. 18 contest against Ms. Murphy--who was endorsed by the Massachusetts Teachers' Association--and Mr. Bellotti.

Vol. 09, Issue 38

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