Hubbard, Hoops, and a House Race
In his role as a Republican leader, Hubbard has helped spearhead the GOP effort to wrest control of the AL legislature from the Democrats. However, his own personal political situation has become a little more complicated with the emergence of his first real challenger since his initial election in 1998.
Democrat Carolyn Ellis has announced her plans to run for Hubbard's District 79 seat. Ellis is a former teacher and refers to herself as a "civic leader", but is probably best know as the wife of ex-Auburn University basketball coach Cliff Ellis.
District 79 was held for decades by Democrat Pete Turnham and Hubbard won the seat with 56% of the vote upon his retirement in 1998. Though, Hubbard avoided Democratic opposition in 2002, the district still maintains a Democratic base and some level of competitiveness. Ellis' contacts and connections should allow her to raise more money and get more press than a typical first time candidate. Certainly, defeating Hubbard will be an uphill battle, but Ellis should be able to make this a competitive race.
Ellis' announcement press release foreshadowed what will likely be one of her primary justifications for ousting the incumbent.
"Today we have a representative who seems to spend more time in partisan warfare and building a political machine than serving the needs of District 79," she said.Hubbard's elevation from backbencher to his party's leader no doubt gives him a greater influence and prominence. However, it also comes at a price as his efforts to lead a GOP takeover have given him a Democratic bullseye on his back. The more time and money Democrats can make Hubbard focusing on his own race, the less inclination he'll have to
travel the state stumping and fundraising for Republican incumbents and challengers.
Even if Ellis is unsuccessful in her quest to become the next representative for District 79, if Mike Hubbard is tethered to his own district fighting for his own political future instead of leading the larger GOP effort to win the State House, it will be a tactical victory for Alabama Democrats.