H. Guy Hunt

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H. Guy Hunt
HGuyHunt.JPG
Governor Guy Hunt at Redstone Army Airfield on June 20, 1990.
49th Governor of Alabama
In office
January 19, 1987 – April 22, 1993
LieutenantJim Folsom, Jr.
Preceded byGeorge Wallace
Succeeded byJim Folsom, Jr.
Personal details
Born
Harold Guy Hunt

(1933-06-17)June 17, 1933
Holly Pond, Alabama, U.S.
DiedJanuary 30, 2009(2009-01-30) (aged 75)
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Helen Chambers
Anne Smith
Children4
ProfessionPastor, farmer, politician
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1951–1955
Battles/warsKorean War

Harold Guy Hunt (June 17, 1933 – January 30, 2009) was an American politician and pastor 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 on June 17, 1933, in Holly Pond, Alabama to William Otto and Frances Holcombe Hunt. At an early age, Hunt joined the Mt. Vernon Primitive Baptist Church, which became a critical influence for the future governor. Less than a year out of high school at only 17 years of age, Hunt married Helen Chambers on February 25, 1951, and the couple would have four children who continued his family's farming tradition. During the Korean War, Hunt served in two divisions of the U.S. Army, earning the certificate of achievement for outstanding performance of military duty and the distinguished service medal. After his military service, Hunt returned to his family farm at Holly Pond and eventually was formally ordained as a minister in the Primitive Baptist Church.[1]

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, the Democratic primary saw then Alabama Attorney General Charles Graddick (D) in a runoff with Democrat 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 state Supreme Court, 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 state Republican Party; 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.

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

Criminal indictment, conviction and pardon[edit]

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, though the charges were eventually dropped.[2]

A grand jury indicted Hunt for theft, conspiracy, and ethics violations.[3] Prosecutors said that he took $200,000 from a 1987 inaugural account and used it to buy marble showers and lawnmowers.[4][5] 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.[6]

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.[7] In April 1998, having served his full sentence and paid his fine, the parole board granted Hunt a pardon.[8][9]

Death[edit]

Hunt died on January 30, 2009, after a long battle with lung cancer.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1509
  2. ^ "Governor Liable to Suits on His Use of Planes." The New York Times.
  3. ^ "Grand Jury Indicts Alabama Governor Probe: Republican Guy Hunt is charged with taking $200,000 from his inaugural fund for personal use. Three associates are also accused." The Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ "For Ex-Alabama Governor, It's Truly a Season of Rebirth." The New York Times. 1.
  5. ^ "Prosecution Rests Case Against Hunt; Alabama Ethics Law Trips Trial Judge." The Washington Post.
  6. ^ "Guy Hunt." Alabama Department of Archives and History.
  7. ^ "National News Briefs; Alabama Ex-Governor Gets More Probation." The New York Times.
  8. ^ "PAROLE BOARD PARDONS FORMER GOV. GUY HUNT." Akron Beacon Journal.
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ "Former Ala. Gov. Guy Hunt dies at 75". Dothan Eagle. January 30, 2009. Archived from the original on February 2, 2009.
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