This spring he stepped down from the leadership role with the party, and continued working as a legislative assistant for Sen. Jim Preuitt, a Republican who recently switched parties after years of serving as a Democrat. Hanner, 63, said he’s happy to continue his work with Preuitt and is less political these days.
“I don’t consider myself of any political party persuasion. I’m not involved in party politics,” Hanner said. “I still admire and appreciate Sen. Pruitt, and that has nothing to do with what I was doing with the Democratic Party.”
According to Gerard Gryski, a professor and chair of the political science department at Auburn University, Hanner’s actions reflect a trend in individual political decisions across the country, especially in the South.
“Our campaigns aren’t party-oriented, they’re person-oriented. That rings true with Alabama, more so,” Gryski said.
Preuitt said his working relationship with Hanner has spanned more than a decade. Hanner works closely with the senator and his constituents in both Talladega and Calhoun counties.
“He does a good job working with the constituent base,” Preuitt said. “He is very efficient and does a good job working with the people.”
In June, Joe Turnham, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, said Hanner sent written notification in late May that he no longer wanted to serve as the chairman of the local party. Turnham said Hanner was leaving the party’s leadership role to take on other professional opportunities, but did not provide details at that time.
“I think he is just taking on some professional opportunities and doesn’t feel like he could continue in his capacity,” Turnham said in June. “It certainly wouldn’t be appropriate for him to have a leadership role in the party if he was not working for our candidates.”
Hanner said he stepped down from the post not for political reasons, but because he wanted to spend more time with family and less time working.
“I’ve got a lot of other things going on that I’m taking care of,” Hanner said. “I’m not as young as I once was.”
Contact staff writer Laura Johnson at 256-235-3544.