Governor Hawkins? Grassroots movement urges Troy chancellor to consider run for office

Published 3:00 am Saturday, March 4, 2017

A movement has been growing over recent weeks to persuade Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. to make a gubernatorial run in 2018.

Carl Cole, a 1997 Troy Alumnus, helped to spark the conversation by creating the Facebook page “Recruit Jack Hawkins for Governor.”

“Some friends and I were talking about politics, specifically the gubernatorial race, and no one was pleased with the people that we expect will be candidates,” Cole said. “That conversation led us to come up with kind of a wish list, and Jack Hawkins was unanimous in the group and it just kind of went from there.”

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The page shared a video promoting the recruitment of Hawkins as a candidate and nearly 2,000 people have seen it.

Hawkins said he’s aware of the page but has made no decisions about running for political office at this time.

“I’m humbled and flattered that these citizens consider me a worthy candidate,” Hawkins said. “For now, my focus remains fully on Troy University.”

Local resident Angi Stalnaker, who served on Robert Bentley’s campaign, said that it has travelled even further by word of mouth.

“I think that the social media presence has initiated and sparked something in the people of Alabama,” Stalnaker said. “I travel all over the state and spend a lot of time in the State House. Over the last two weeks, I’ve had more people ask me about Jack Hawkins than anything else. It’s something people are talking about not just in Troy circles, but in political circles as well.”

Alabama political analyst Steve Flowers, a Troy resident, said that he too hears from a lot of people hoping for Hawkins to make a run.

“I’ll invariably be making a speech somewhere even in north or central Alabama and people will say ‘I wish the chancellor of Troy University would run. He’d do a good job’,” Flowers said. “I think without question he’d be the most qualified, running a state university for 30 years.”

Cole said that if Hawkins decided to make a run at the office, he should be the frontrunner.

“There’s a lot of people that would think he would be a fine governor and that he would become the frontrunner if he decides to run,” Cole said. “I put the page up as a way of telling him that if the has any desire at all, even if small, to be governor that there’s a need for it and there’s a lot of people that feel that way. That’s why there’s been such a positive reception to it and I’m hoping it kind of grows organically.”

Flowers said that it’s too early to say whether Hawkins would be the frontrunner, noting that several candidates are likely to have already won statewide elections. Flowers said polling shows that Roy Moore would beat everyone early on if he decided to run.

Cole said that Hawkins’s humility is a major part of why he wants him to run.

“He’s a humble guy,” Cole said. “He isn’t the kind to seek out this role.

“Something he told me 25 years ago kind of sticks with me. He said leaders aren’t leaders because they crave it; they’re leaders because it finds them.”