Cal Hobson: 'Things are brighter for me'

Sunday, July 31st 2005, 5:49 pm
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Cal Hobson climbed to the top of the Oklahoma Senate by spending his career trying to please everyone. It took alcoholism to knock him from the perch.

Hobson, who resigned as Senate President Pro Tempore earlier this year, says he came to rely on alcohol during his 26-year legislative career.

``You say 'yes' to every speech, you say 'yes' to every request for carrying legislation, you put yourself in difficult positions because you don't want to disappoint, and then you mask over the pain with alcohol,'' Hobson told the Norman Transcript for a story in Sunday's editions.

Hobson, D-Lexington, served six terms in the Oklahoma House beginning in 1979. He was elected to the state Senate in 1990 and has served there ever since, representing parts of Cleveland and McClain counties.

But as he was facing an ouster as Senate pro tem, Hobson resigned. He said he ``needed to choose between my health and politics all day, all the time.''

Hobson, 60, said he's come to realize that he doesn't serve anyone, including himself, by denying the alcoholism.

``I'm feeling better and it's really important that I not hide or deny the reality of what alcoholism is,'' Hobson said. ``It's a killer disease that runs in my family. It's something that I probably _ not probably _ I denied for years.''

Hobson said he's getting help from his wife and family, as well as Alcoholics Anonymous.

``Things are brighter for me,'' Hobson said.

People _ especially his mother _ have begun asking Hobson what's next for him. Hobson said his top priority is cutting the number of uninsured Oklahomans and making sure Medicaid-eligible patients continue receiving care.

``The truth is, the vast majority of people, whether they are political supporters or not, have called or written hundreds of letters saying forget the politics _ we are for you beating this disease,'' Hobson said. ``That is what keeps you going on a day-to-day basis, especially on days you want to give up and go back to what's easy.

``And what's easy is to go get a bottle, finish your day's work and mask over your disappointments or even what you would call inflatable victories. But it gives you a false sense of hope, and the pain is never worth the short-term relief.''

Hobson said his proudest moment in the Legislature was passing the Education Reform Act, which pumped millions more dollars into Oklahoma schools. He also was proud of his efforts to start a state lottery and tax and regulate Indian casinos for education funding, and to increase tobacco taxes so cancer center and health initiatives could be funded.

Hobson said he has received all the recognitions and honors one person can hope for, and now he expects ``an aggressive, thoughtful, well-educated individual'' to replace him at the Statehouse.

``They'll never miss a beat up there,'' Hobson said. ``They'll do fine. They won't need me.''