The 1986 Alabama gubernatorial election saw the election of RepublicanH. Guy Hunt over Democrat Bill Baxley. In state politics, this election is largely seen as a realigning election since Hunt was the first Republican to be elected Governor since Reconstruction. In March 1986, incumbent George Wallace announced that he would not seek a fifth term as governor, ending an era in Alabama politics.
Though Alabama had supported Republicans in national elections, state and local elections were dominated by Democrats so many people anticipated that the winner of the Democratic primary would win the election.
The Democratic Primary brought out a number of candidates. It resulted in a runoff between Lieutenant Governor Bill Baxley and Attorney General Charles Graddick. Graddick, the more conservative of the two Democrats, won the runoff election by a slim margin. Baxley challenged the results, and claimed that Graddick violated Democratic Party rules by encouraging people who voted in the Republican primary to cross over and vote in the Democratic runoff election. While Republicans in the state have held open primaries for years, the Democratics bar registered Republicans and Independents from voting in its primary election. This challenge went to the Alabama Supreme Court that ruled that crossover voting had taken place in large numbers, and ruled that the Democratic Party either had to select Baxley as the nominee or hold another runoff election. The party opted to name Baxley as its nominee.