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Video by Ilea Shutler. Produced by David Fritze.

“Conversations” is a series of video interviews with Oklahomans about subjects that relate to some of the state’s larger issues. The 2016-2017 series is sponsored by the Chickasaw Nation and is made possible by a grant from the Institute for Nonprofit News.

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Before the drinking took a public toll, Cal Hobson’s image was that of a high achiever.

The former state Senate President Pro Tem grew up in the small town of Lexington and was valedictorian of his high school class. He served in the Air Force and Air National Guard for more than two decades and was promoted to colonel. A Democrat, he served six terms in the state House and four in the Senate,  promoting better health care and stronger public education.

In 2005, he stepped down from the Senate’s top job, acknowledging a struggle with alcoholism. He appeared to climb back, but suffered relapses, including an arrest in May 2014 on charges of DUI and attempting to bribe the arresting officer.

Hobson, 71, spoke to Oklahoma Watch about his struggles earlier this year, 617 days after his last drink and only days before graduating from drug court. He now teaches popular courses at the University of Oklahoma’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, including one course titled, “From Lawmaker to Lawbreaker.”

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