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Interview with Jim Martin, January 21, 2009

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:33 - Education and military service

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Partial Transcript: You were born in Atlanta and grew up in a family of six boys.

Segment Synopsis: Martin describes his education at the University of Georgia, first as an undergraduate student then in law school for his J.D. and L.L.M. degrees. Martin also talks about his service in Vietnam as part of the United States Army's military intelligence in 1971, particularly how despite his generation's general opposition to the war, Martin still believed it was his duty as a citizen to serve.

Keywords: The Red & Black; Democratic Party; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Georgia General Assembly; Perry Sentell; Reserve Officer Training Corps; Speaker of the House; Tom Murphy; Vietnam War; Vince Dooley; class president; land-grant college; legislative counsel; local government; public school integration

00:07:15 - Legislative counsel / Georgia House of Representatives service

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Partial Transcript: And then you ran for the state legislature in 1983.

Segment Synopsis: Martin briefly summarizes his time working as the legislative counsel for the Georgia General Assembly and his time as legal aid for impoverished families in Atlanta. He then talks about running and winning Sydney Marcus's seat in the Georgia House of Representatives after Marcus's death.

Keywords: Aid to Families with Dependent Children; Appropriations committee; Atlanta Legal Aid; Bill Dover; Bubba McDonald; Georgia Legal Services Program; Human Resources subcommittee; Industrial Relations committee; Joe Andrews; Judiciary committee; Martin & McDuffy; Sydney Fuller; committee assignments; committee chairman; drafting legislation; ethics committee; housing reform; legislative process; liberalism; mental health; nonpartisanship; progressivism; small loan companies; subcommittee chairman

00:15:38 - Speaker Tom Murphy

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Partial Transcript: Tell us about Speaker Murphy.

Segment Synopsis: Martin recalls his relationship with Speaker of the House Tom Murphy, specifying that he considered Murphy a mentor during his time in the state legislature. He defends Murphy against claims that Murphy was a conservative or that Murphy favored rural areas of Georgia over urban areas, citing a number of examples from his own experience that contradict such claims.

Keywords: African-American legislators; Georgia World Congress Center; Grady Memorial Hospital; MARTA; Managed Care; Medicaid; Roosevelt Democrat; Zell Miller; committee assignments; conservatism; developmental disabilities; government waste; health and ecology committee; insurance committee; progressivism; public hospital

00:23:27 - Men and women of the General Assembly

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Partial Transcript: Who were some of the other, more effective members of the House?

Segment Synopsis: Martin lists the various state legislators he had amicable relationships with, including Republicans such as Jim Tysinger and Johnny Isakson. Martin gives special attention to the Fulton County delegation of assemblymen, whose diverse political views made the issues the delegation faced- namely the incorporation of the city of Sandy Springs- difficult to manage.

Keywords: Addie Stevenson; Charles Walker; City of Atlanta; Dorothy Felton; Georganna Sinkfield; Grace Hamilton; Larry Walker; Mark Taylor; Mary Margaret Oliver; Nan Orrock; Paul Coverdell; Robert Harris; Sanford Bishop; Sidney Marcus; Terry Coleman; Thurbert Baker; Zell Miller; appropriations committee; business community; conference committee; government bonds; legal aid services; racial issues; rural areas; unemployment benefits; vice chairman of the Fulton County delegation; welfare reform

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00:35:49 - Department of Human Resources

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Partial Transcript: You left the legislature in 2001 to become commissioner of the Department of Family and Children Services.

Segment Synopsis: Martin explains why he left the state legislature to become the commissioner for the Georgia Department of Human Resources and how he was able to convince governor Roy Barnes he was the best choice for the position. However, Martin details how the restrictive budgets and confusion during the transition from Roy Barnes to Sonny Perdue made him abandon his goals and instead focus on keeping the department's existing programs funded and solvent.

Keywords: 2001 reapportionment special session; 2002 election; Bobby Kahn; Eric Tanenblatt; Georgia Senate; Jim Lientz; Jimmy Carter; Renee Bloomenthal; family planning; newspapers

00:45:15 - Public Defender Standards Council / 2006 lieutenant governor race

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Partial Transcript: So I left DHR.

Segment Synopsis: Martin recalls his time traveling the world immediately after leaving the Department of Human Resources and afterward returning to Georgia to serve as the Public Defender Standards Council's chief legal officer. Martin then details his unsuccessful campaign for lieutenant governor in 2006, choosing to run because Ralph Reed was running for the Republican nomination, but losing in the general election against Casey Cagle.

Keywords: 2006 election; Andrew Young School of Policy Studies; Australia; Cathy Cox; Dubose Porter; Georgia State University; Harold Melton; Istanbul, Turkey; Larry Walker; Mark Taylor; Master of Public Administration program; New Zealand; Paris, France; Terry Coleman; Tom Murphy; Vietnam; judicial branch; predatory lending; primary election; program funding; separation of powers

00:53:19 - Running for U.S. Senate

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Partial Transcript: But some people came to me and said "Martin, you did such a good job in the lieutenant governor's race, why don't you think about running for the Senate?"

Segment Synopsis: Martin elaborates why, despite his initial hesitation, he sought to run against incumbent Saxby Chambliss in the 2008 Senate election after being convinced to run by Senators Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer. Martin became convinced he could win the election when the 2008 financial crisis occurred and he believed the predatory lending practices he had been fighting against in his career were the cause of the recession.

Keywords: 2002 election; Barack Obama; Drew Weston; George Tindall; George W. Bush; Hillary Clinton; James Cobb; Max Cleland; Southern identity; fundraising; healthcare; housing bubble; internal polling; networking; outside funding; political messaging

01:03:08 - 2008 Senate runoff election

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Partial Transcript: And got in a runoff, and then this race became one of two seats- three seats at the beginning, then ultimately two seats- that would have made the difference between whether the Senate had 60 Democratic votes or not.

Segment Synopsis: Martin explains why the runoff election between him and Saxby Chambliss in 2008 received so much national attention, as not only was it seen as a referendum on the incoming president, but it would also determine whether the Democrats would have enough seats to override any filibuster. Martin sees his loss in the runoff as being largely due to Republicans' fear of Barack Obama's presidency and fear that Martin would never oppose Obama, as shown by their high turnout in the runoff election.

Keywords: 2006 election; Abraham Baldwin; Al Gore; American Civil War; Bill Clinton; Buddy Childers; Iraq War; Max Cleland; Richard B. Russell; Robert Toombs; Sam Nunn; Sons of Confederate Veterans; University of Georgia; early voting; public service; rural Georgia; state flag

01:12:35 - Campaign funding and the national Democratic Party

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Partial Transcript: You know, the money is always a problem.

Segment Synopsis: Martin explains that he considered it impossible to be able to raise the funds necessary to outspend Saxby Chambliss's campaign; instead, he focused on building a grassroots organization to support his own campaign. Martin criticizes the national Democratic Party for creating an attack ad that made the FairTax an issue, which Martin saw as a poor political move, instead preferring to focus on the economy.

Keywords: Neal Boortz; Obama administration; baby boomers; campaign spending; economic growth; independent expenditures; local support; negative campaigning; political action committees; political advertising; two-party competition; undecided voters