Forrest Hood (Fob) James, Jr.
Governor Fob James was sworn in at 1:15 p.m. January 16, 1995.
Governor James was re-elected governor on November 8, 1994. The governor is the only Alabamian who first was elected governor as a Democrat (1978) and then later switched parties (April 8, 1994), ran as a Republican and won re-election.
He was born September 15, 1934, to Forrest Hood Sr. and Rebecca (Ellington) James in the Chambers county town of Lanett in east Alabama. He now resides in the Baldwin County town of Magnolia Springs in south Alabama.
Married 39 years to the former Bobbie Mooney of Decatur, they have three sons: Fob III, a Birmingham attorney, and Tim and Patrick, Greenville businessmen. They have six grandchildren. Another son, Greg, died of cystic fibrosis in 1967 at the age of eight.
Governor James attended public school in Lanett and Baylor Military Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He earned a B.S. degree in civil engineering at Auburn Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) where he was selected as an All-American halfback on the Auburn football team. In 1956 James played professional football with the Montreal Alouettes before entering the Army to serve two years as a lieutenant in the U.S. Corps of Engineers.
James founded Diversified Products, Inc., an athletic equipment company, in Opelika in 1962. The company manufactured equipment for physical fitness and ballast and counterweights for farms, industry and trucking. Ultimately the company employed 1,500 people. From 1972 to 1974 he served as president of the Alabama Citizens for Transportation, a statewide committee which developed a twenty year highway program subsequently adopted by the Alabama Legislature.
In 1978, following a switch from the Republican to the Democratic Party, James entered the gubernatorial race. In the first primary, he defeated Bill Baxley 296,196 votes to 210,089 votes. In the second primary, James easily outdistanced Baxley and defeated the Republican candidate, Guy Hunt, in the November general election.
During James' first administration, the state faced considerable financial difficulties; however, James was reasonably successful in attaining his education reform package, improving the state's mental health system, rectifying some prison overcrowding problems and re-establishing the once financially strapped Medicaid system. Furthermore, James consolidated various state agencies to reduce state spending. He also worked to acquire stiffer penalties for convicted drug traffickers. However, James was unsuccessful in his attempts to: have a new state constitution drafted, levy a fuel tax, rectify the court-ordered desegregation of some of the state's post-secondary institutions and secure passage of his bill to eliminate income tax deductions for Social Security payments. During the aforementioned economic crisis, James implemented a ten percent State spending cut, instituted a hiring freeze and laid off a considerable number of the state employee workforce. James also was quite instrumental in the improvement of the state's highways as a result of earmarking a substantial amount of money for such improvements from the state's oil windfall funds.
Governor James was part owner of the Orange Beach Marina for several years. He is CEO of Coastal Erosion Control, Inc., a company developing methods to prevent coastal erosion on the eastern seaboard. He is CEO of the Escambia County Environmental Corporation which develops state-of-the-art disposal facilities for nontoxic solid waste materials.
Governor Fob James Biographical Sketch, 1995.
Alabama Official and Statistical Register, 1979.
"Stranger Than Fiction," Alabama News Magazine, January 1979.
Alabama Department of Archives and History, Governors Clipping Files.