According to this article on AL.com, Mary Scott Hunter, state school board member from Huntsville, will run for Lt. Governor in 2018, instead of running for re-election to the board. She was first elected to an open seat on the board in 2010. She was re-elected in 2014.
In a rather odd choice of words, Hunter told AL.com, “I’m just at a place where I want to do something bigger.”
No doubt some of her fellow board members will be interested to learn that their work is apparently not so meaningful in her view. But considering that the state board of education has oversight over the state’s single largest budget, which is more than $4 billion for K 12 education and has responsiblity for 730,000 public school students, that point can be disputed.
Besides, today the job of Lt. Governor is mostly ceremonial. This office has very limited duties other than presiding over the Senate when in session. Prior to the election of Steve Windom as Lt. Governor in 1998, this was a powerful position. This person appointed committee chairs, made committee appointments and directed the flow of legislation. However, Windom was a Republican while the majority of the Senate were Democrats. The members changed the rules so that the President Pro Tem is now where the power is concentrated.
The Lt. Governor does not have a vote and does not introduce legislation. They just preside.
So the notion of this being “something bigger” is debatable.
Obviously one assumes that someone serving two terms on the state school board could count on support from educators. However, this too is debatable in Hunter’s case. She has been taken to task on occasion by educators for her comments, such as here.
She voted for Mike Sentance to be state superintendent in 2016 and is one of five defendants in a civil suit brought by Jefferson County superintendent Craig Pouncey concerning an anonymous “smear sheet” questioning his credentials.
In addition to her support for Mike Sentance, Hunter also supported Besty DeVos for U.S. Secretary of Education, a stance not supported by most Alabama educators.
It should also be noted that in Hunter’s 2014 campaign for re-election, she received $75,000 from the Business Council of Alabama; $1,500 from the Alabama Federation for Children, an affiliate of the American Federation for Children started by DeVos; $15,000 from StudentsFirst, the California group created by Michelle Rhee; and $1,000 from former Governor Bob Riley.
Few, if any, Alabama public school educators would consider any of these groups or individuals as “friends.”
The only other declared candidate for Lt. Governor at this point is state senator Rusty Glover of Mobile. And though he is a retired public school teacher, his voting record has largely been anti-public schools. He has supported both charter schools and the Alabama Accountability Act.
Glover created a campaign committee in February and has been traveling the state. Records on file with the Secretary of State show he has loaned his campaign $15,000 and has retained Garner Consulting of Birmingham to assist him.
Both Hunter and Glover are Republicans. The 2018 Republican primary is June 5, 2018. So there is a long way to go. But at this point, educators are caught “between a rock and a hard place” with these two candidates and may want to pencil in “none of the above.”