Same is true with lieutenant governors, House speakers, Senate presidents and most legislators. When one goes, Paul Hubbert has been there to greet the replacement.
For more than 40 years Paul Hubbert has led the Alabama Education Association and transformed the organization and himself into powerful forces in Montgomery.
Now he is retiring — as soon as his replacement can be found.
Apparently there are not many who want the job. Stories are told of how Hubbert would sit in on a legislative committee meeting and when the issue came to a vote the senators or representatives would look to him for instructions. Even if such stories are not true, who would want to follow someone who had such an aura about him?
Recently Hubbert sat down with The Birmingham News for a series on interviews on his career and the politicians with whom he worked.
It should come as no surprise that those who supported education were the ones he most admired, with former Gov. Albert Brewer leading the list.
And it should come as no surprise that Hubbert, the former vice chairman of the state Democratic Party, would not be enthusiastic about the way Gov. Robert Bentley and the Republican-controlled Legislature are running the state.
Where Bentley expresses pride in his ability to work with the Republican majorities in the House and Senate, Hubbert concludes that this “teamwork” is actually an example of legislators leading the governor, and as a result Bentley has not aggressively pushed an agenda of his own.
Though Hubbert’s observations have always had a tincture of partisanship, they nevertheless reflect the views of perhaps the only man in the state today who has been inside the political system as long as he has and who has represented his constituency as well as one in his position might hope to.
For that reason, if for no other, we would do well to listen to what he has to say.
Although his political enemies blame Hubbert for the problems that exist in Alabama education today, one must also ask what education in Alabama would be like if there had been no Paul Hubbert? When he took over, the goal of the best graduates from our teacher education programs was usually to find a way to get a job in Georgia or Florida. Today our best graduates are more likely to seek jobs in-state. To no small degree, Paul Hubbert is responsible for this, and for that we should thank him.