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Interview with Terry Coleman, March 24, 2008

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:07 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: I'm Bob Short and this is Reflections on Georgia Politics.

Segment Synopsis: Bob Short introduces Terry Coleman.

00:02:17 - Working with Jimmy Carter

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Partial Transcript: Well, two years later--1972--you ran for the state House of Representatives.

Segment Synopsis: Coleman talks about his and his brothers' work for Jimmy Carter, Carter's governmental reorganization during his term as governor, and the relationship between Jimmy Carter and Lester Maddox.

Keywords: Jimmy Carter; Lester Maddox; governor; political ties; reorganization

00:10:31 - George Busbee & Rewriting the Georgia Constitution

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Partial Transcript: And his successor, who served with you in the House of Representatives, George Busbee, came along.

Segment Synopsis: Coleman talks about Governor Busbee's term in office and the changes he implemented, including expanding foreign trade and rewriting the state Constitution, and passing a bill to allow for governor self-succession. Coleman reflects on the consequence that these changes had on the political administration.

Keywords: George Busbee; Georgia Constitution; executive power; gubernatorial power; trade expansion

00:16:13 - Reapportionment

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Partial Transcript: Speaking of congressmen, we in this state, have had many battles over reapportionment.

Segment Synopsis: Coleman talks about the effect of increasing partisanship on reapportionment procedure.

Keywords: partisanship; reapportionment

00:19:01 - Busbee, Harris, and Murphy

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Partial Transcript: George Busbee left office and he was very interested in his successor.

Segment Synopsis: Coleman talks about his working relationship with Joe Frank Harris in the House Appropriations Committee. He also describes Busbee's support of Harris as his successor to the governor's seat, and describes the personalities of George Busbee and Tom Murphy.

Keywords: George Busbee; Georgia House of Representatives; Joe Frank Harris; Tom Murphy; governorship succession

00:30:09 - Zell Miller

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Partial Transcript: Speaking of Zell Miller, he was elected in 1990 on a platform that was very controversial--the state lottery.

Segment Synopsis: Coleman talks about Zell Miller and his legacy as governor in the areas of education and social welfare. He also talks about Zell Miller's controversial appointment to the U.S. Senate that crossed party lines and

Keywords: Georgia Mountain Protection Act; HOPE Scholarship Program; Zell Miller; education; governor; party lines; social programs

00:39:53 - Party registration / Tom Murphy's mentorship

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Partial Transcript: Most states have party registration.

Segment Synopsis: Coleman discusses his views on party identification and how it relates to partisanship. He talks about his relationship with Speaker Tom Murphy, how he came to be close with him, and time he opposed Murphy on the floor of the House.

Keywords: Tom Murphy; party registration; political identification; working relationship

00:46:42 - Green Door Committee

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Partial Transcript: Well, would you take long enough to explain to us the Appropriations process in the Georgia General Assembly and take us behind the famous Green Door.

Segment Synopsis: Coleman talks about the increased budgetary power of the legislature that began after Lester Maddox's term as governor. He describes the establishment of the Green Door Committee which was acted as the early budgetary office in the House. Coleman recounts the exclusivity of the Green Door Committee and how he opened it up to other legislators when he became Chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

Keywords: Appropriations Committee; George T. Smith; Green Door Committee; Tom Murphy; budget

00:54:29 - Becoming Chairman of Appropriations Committee

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Partial Transcript: When I got to be chairman, I knew we had to endear some people.

Segment Synopsis: Coleman talks about the process of formalizing the dispensation of county government funds. He talks about the inclusion of Republican legislators on the budget committee, and about negotiating to have more power on the House Floor. Coleman reflects on the separation of powers between the government branches and relates it to his role as legislator.

Keywords: Republicans; budget committee; separation of powers

01:07:23 - Being nominated for Speaker of the House

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk for a minute about your becoming Speaker.

Segment Synopsis: Coleman talks about campaigning for nomination to be Speaker of the House against Tom Murphy and Larry Walker. He remembers the opposition that Larry Walker raised against him in the form of a third-party race for Speaker.

Keywords: Larry Walker; Tom Murphy; caucus; speaker nomination

01:18:49 - Rise of the Republican Party in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: And two years later, the Republicans became the majority.

Segment Synopsis: Coleman talks about the shift to a Republican majority in Georgia and discusses the gay marriage amendment, a growing liberal face of the Democratic Party, and reapportionment as causal factors in the party switch.

Keywords: New Republicanism; conservative; gay marriage; liberalism; party shift; reapportionment; wedge issue

01:24:16 - Changing the Georgia state flag

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Partial Transcript: Another big issue while you were Speaker, was Governor Purdue's changing the Georgia flag.

Segment Synopsis: Coleman talks about the debate that surrounded changing Georgia's flag in 2003. He remembers advising Governor Purdue to wait to bring up the flag referendum, and making the deciding vote in the House on changing the flag.

Keywords: Georgia flag; Sonny Purdue; political tradition; referendum

01:32:16 - Working in Georgia agriculture post-Speakership

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Partial Transcript: A new career for you now.

Segment Synopsis: Coleman describes how he became involved in the Georgia Department of Agriculture after stepping down from post of Speaker. He talks about the Department's initiatives such as adopting new dairy farming techniques and promoting a corn substitute, Pearl Millet. Coleman also reflects on the difficulties of monitoring food contamination and imported food.

Keywords: Georgia Department of Agriculture; Pearl Millet; corn; dairy farming; family owned business; food contamination; imports

01:43:11 - Reflection on serving in General Assembly

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Partial Transcript: And now Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask you this question.

Segment Synopsis: Coleman briefly reflects on his favorite memory of his time in service and how he hopes to be remembered.