H. Guy Hunt

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"Guy Hunt" redirects here. For the English professional golfer, see Guy Hunt (golfer).
Harold Guy Hunt
ThomasJackLee3l.jpg
President George H. W. Bush and Governor Guy Hunt (center) are greeted by Marshall Space Flight Center Director T. Jack Lee upon their arrival at Redstone Army Airfield on June 20, 1990.
49th Governor of Alabama
In office
January 19, 1987 – April 22, 1993
Lieutenant Jim Folsom, Jr.
Preceded by George Wallace, Sr.
Succeeded by Jim Folsom, Jr.
Personal details
Born (1933-06-17)June 17, 1933
Holly Pond, Alabama, United States
Died January 30, 2009(2009-01-30) (aged 75)
Birmingham, Alabama, United States
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Helen Chambers
Anne Smith
Children 4
Profession Pastor, farmer, politician
Religion Primitive Baptist
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1951-1955
Battles/wars Korean War

Harold Guy Hunt (June 17, 1933 – January 30, 2009) was an American politician who served as the 49th Governor of Alabama from 1987 to 1993. He was the first Republican to serve as governor of the state since Reconstruction.

Early life[edit]

Hunt was born in Holly Pond, Alabama. He was the salutatorian of his high school class, but he turned down a college education. Instead, he enlisted in the United States Army and served in the Korean War. He returned to Alabama upon his discharge in 1956, where he operated an egg farm. He was ordained a Primitive Baptist minister in 1958, and also worked as a salesman for Amway. He married the former Helen Chambers in 1951 (deceased November 22, 2004); they had four children.

Hunt was active in the Republican Party from the days when the Democrats held near-total control of the state. He first ran for office in 1962, an unsuccessful run for the Alabama Senate. In 1964, he was elected probate judge of Cullman County. Lyndon Johnson's strong support for civil rights caused many Democrats to vote for Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater that year, and Hunt was one of several Republicans swept into office on Goldwater's coattails. He was the youngest probate judge in Alabama. He was reelected in 1970, stepping down in 1976 to honor a promise to serve only two terms. He was state chairman of Ronald Reagan's presidential campaigns in 1976 and 1980 and chaired the state's Republican delegation at the 1976 and 1980 Republican National Conventions.

In 1978, Hunt was the Republican nominee for governor, but he lost in a massive landslide to then Democrat Fob James. In that election, Ann Bedsole, a Moderate Republican from Mobile, became the first Republican woman elected to the Alabama House of Representatives.

Election as governor[edit]

After Reagan won election in 1980, he appointed Hunt as State Director of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Committee. He resigned in 1985 to run for governor. His campaign was not taken seriously at first even among Republicans, who were more concerned about helping Senator Jeremiah Denton win reelection. The press paid little attention to the Republican gubernatorial primary, fully expecting that the winner of the Democratic primary would be the next governor.

However, a fracas in the Democratic primary changed the picture. That race saw then Alabama Attorney General Charles Graddick in a runoff with Lieutenant Governor Bill Baxley. Graddick, the more conservative candidate, won by a few thousand votes. However, Baxley sued, claiming that Graddick violated primary regulations by encouraging Republicans to "cross over" and vote as Democrats. Graddick, for his part, maintained that this was legal because Alabama was an open primary state. The dispute made it all the way to the state Supreme Court, who told the Democrats to either declare Baxley the winner by default or hold another primary. The party picked Baxley.

Alabamians, accustomed to a system where anybody and everybody could vote in a primary, were outraged and took out their frustrations by voting for Hunt. In November, Hunt won the election by 13 points and 56 percent of the vote, receiving the most votes ever for a gubernatorial candidate at that time. Hunt's election surprised many Alabamians since the last Republican governor had left office 113 years earlier, at the end of Reconstruction. He narrowly won reelection in 1990 after trailing most of the way. Hunt's election is widely credited for beginning the rise of the Republican Party at the state level in Alabama; only two Democrats have held the office since his tenure, and only one of them by election.

Hunt pushed through major tort reform and tried to bring more industry and tourism to the state, but had to wrangle through massive opposition in the state legislature.

In 1992, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that taxpayers could sue Hunt for flying on state-owned aircraft to preaching engagements, where Hunt received monetary offerings.[1]

As Governor, Hunt presided over eight executions in Alabama, all by electric chair.

Criminal indictment, conviction and pardon[edit]

In 1992 a grand jury indicted Hunt for theft, conspiracy, and ethics violations.[2] Prosecutors said that he took $200,000 from a 1987 inaugural account and used it to buy marble showers and lawnmowers.[3][4] Hunt was ultimately found guilty. As the state constitution does not allow convicted felons to hold office, Hunt was forced to resign on April 22, 1993.[5]

After being ordered to pay $12,000, Hunt began a five year probation term in 1994. In February 1998 he asked the parole board to reduce his probation by four months; the judge instead increased the probation by five years.[6] In April 1998, having served his full sentence and paid his fine, the parole board granted Hunt a pardon.[7][8] The pardon was never official though as it was required to be signed by a Judge and they could not find a Judge who was willing to sign it.

Death[edit]

Hunt died on January 30, 2009, after a long battle with lung cancer.[9]

References[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
George Wallace
Governor of Alabama
January 19, 1987—April 22, 1993
Succeeded by
James E. Folsom, Jr.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Elvin McCary
Republican Party nominee for Governor of Alabama
1978 (lost)
Succeeded by
Emory Folmar
Preceded by
Emory Folmar
Republican Party nominee for Governor of Alabama
1986 (won), 1990 (won)
Succeeded by
Fob James