Chuck's History Lesson: Alabama governor's race

By Chuck Leonard 

(WTVM) - Alabama used to be a one-party state. Democrats were in charge of just about everything. That changed in 1986, and angry voters were the reason.

Lieutenant Governor Bill Baxley was favored in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, but he lost to Attorney General Charlie Graddick in a runoff.  Graddick, it seems, had encouraged Republicans to cross over and vote for him in the runoff. It was allowed, and apparently they did.

Baxley cried foul, and the matter eventually went to Democratic party leaders. They had the option of holding a second runoff or choosing a candidate. They picked Baxley, which made a lot of people unhappy. The outrage was expressed at the ballot box, with many voting against the Democrat rather than for the Republican. 

So little-known Guy Hunt was elected, the first Republican to serve as Alabama governor since Reconstruction.

Two of the last three governors have also been Republicans, all serving under legislatures controlled by Democrats. That could change tomorrow night, but for now Alabama is a two-party state.   

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