Partial Transcript: You've been in Georgia politics for many years.
Segment Synopsis: Kahn talks about growing up in Savannah, Georgia and remembers being one of a few Democrats in his majority-Republican private school. He talks about volunteering on Carter's presidential campaign as a senior in high school, and working on Phyllis Kravitch's campaign for state court. Kahn talks about attending Emory University, UGA law school, volunteering on Governor Harris' campaign while in law school, and working at a law practice after graduation. Kahn also recalls the first campaign he coordinated for Robert Benham's election to the state court of appeals.
Keywords: Jimmy Carter; Latvia; Lithunia; Phyllis Kravitch; Robert Benham; Savannah Country Day; Savannah, Georgia; University of Georgia; private school
Partial Transcript: You're best known as a political consultant, as a mentor and campaign manager for Roy Barnes.
Segment Synopsis: Kahn focuses on his relationship to Roy Barnes, including helping run his campaign for governor in 1990. He recalls the two other candidates running for governor--Andrew Young and Zell Miller--and describes their respective campaign strengths. Kahn talks about having worked with Young on organizing the 1988 Democratic Convention in Atlanta, and mentions having declined Young's invitation to run his campaign for governor.
Keywords: Andrew Young; Atlanta '88 group; Democratic Convention; HOPE scholarship lottery; Roy Barnes; Zell Miller; gubernatorial race; runoff
Partial Transcript: Did that cause any hard feelings with Miller?
Segment Synopsis: Kahn talk about practicing TV litigation after finding out that the TV stations had overcharged the political candidates in the 1990 election for governor. Kahn reflects on Zell Miller's U.S. Senate appointment following Paul Coverdell's death. Kahn talks about his position as Chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia, and having to reprimand Miller when he crossed party lines to speak at the 2004 Republican National Convention.
Keywords: FCC; Federal Election Commission; TV stations; litigation; media buying; overcharging; political ads
Partial Transcript: Let's get back to a minute, if you will, to that period between 1990 and 1998 when you and Roy Barnes were vacationing.
Segment Synopsis: Kahn discusses continuing to work on the TV litigation case after the 1990 governor race, while Barnes served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1992 to 1996. He recalls Barnes' second governor race in 1998, and how Barnes and Pierre Howard negotiated for Barnes to run for Lieutenant Governor in order to avoid a contentious seven-person primary. Kahn recalls his surprise at later finding out that Howard had withdrawn his campaign. He briefly mentions the Gang of Five, a group of reform-minded senators in Congress, of which Barnes was a member.
Keywords: Gang of Five; Lewis Massey; Pierre Howard; experience; judiciary committee; lieutenant governor; primary; runoff
Partial Transcript: So Roy Barnes become governor and you move into the Capitol.
Segment Synopsis: Kahn talks about his role as Chief of Staff in pushing Barnes' legislative agendas, including legislation on transportation and education reform. He talks about the idea for the Northern Arc, a highway that would connect I-75 and I-85 north of Atlanta. He also talks about education reforms that included the implementation of the No Child Left Behind model, and the Fair Dismissal Act for Tenure, which removed teacher tenure eligibility.
Keywords: George Bush; education; highways; interstate; testing model; transportation
Partial Transcript: Changing the flag also became an issue.
Segment Synopsis: Kahn describes the growing tension surrounding the push for a change to the Georgia flag early on in Barnes' term as governor. He talks about balancing public opinion with legislative foresight, by moving quickly to pass the bill in the legislature before it was stopped by a public backlash. He describes the focus on functionality rather than aesthetics when creating the new flag.
Keywords: Confederate flag; controversial; heritage; media coverage; public opinion; race; race tension; sensitivity; social change
Partial Transcript: Northern Arc. You move into reelection in 2002.
Segment Synopsis: Kahn recalls the context of Barnes' 2002 re-election campaign, citing September 11, the dot-com crash, and repercussions of the flag change as issues that contributed to Barnes' loss in the election. Kahn also describes the role that party-switchers played in bolstering the Republican vote in that election. Kahn also anticipates Barnes' campaign for governor in 2010.
Keywords: Republican majority; challenges; incumbent; party switching; re-election; reelection
Partial Transcript: Well, Bobby, you served as chair of the Georgia Democratic Party. Let's talk about that for a minute.
Segment Synopsis: Kahn discusses the Democratic party's strategy following the establishment of a Republic majority in Georgia in the 2002 midterm elections. He describes the difficulties facing both parties: candidate recruitment, training, and fundraising. He addresses how diverse constituencies affect the Democratic Party, as well as how national elections affect local elections.
Keywords: Independent candidates; Mark Taylor; Sonny Perdue; diversity; federal elections; local elections; party caucus; party organization; reapportionment; recruiting
Partial Transcript: Let me ask you a very personal question.
Segment Synopsis: Kahn reflects on how he would like to be remembered. He talks about his love of party politics, and his most memorable experience serving as executive director of the Democratic Party in Georgia.
Keywords: moderate; work ethic
BOB SHORT: Im Bob Short, and this is Reflections on Georgia Politics,sponsored the Richard Russell Library at the University of Georgia and Young Harris College. Our guest is Bobby Kahn, Chief of Staff for Governor Roy Barnes and chair of the Georgia Democratic Party. Bobby, Welcome.
BOBBY KAHN: Good to be here.
SHORT: Youve been involved in Georgia politics for many years. But before weget into that career, tell us a little bit about Bobby Kahn.
KAHN: Well, I grew up in Savannah, and I have two brothers and a sister. Myfamily has been in the wholesale dry goods business since my grandfather came over here. My grandparents came from Lithuania and Latvia and were typical 00:01:00Jewish merchants and worked hard and built a business. I grew up in that business. I worked in it a couple of summers. My brother ended up working in it. I got very interested in politics growing up in Savannah. My dad was always interested, never involved, but always interested in politics. Like many families across the country, we watched the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, either before or after dinner, and thats where we got our news. I reminisced about that when Cronkite passed a few weeks ago, and we were just always talking about politics. Back then, the state was very democratic. That happened to be where I was, although my dad was good at playing devils 00:02:00advocate, so I got exposed to both sides. A lot of the people I went to school with were Republican. I went to a private school in Savannah, Savannah Country Day. I remember when Carter was running for President, I was a senior. Nobody was for him but me and one other person. I got excited, because there was a show of hands for who was for which candidate and stuff, and not everybody raised their hand for Ford or Reagan and I thought there was hope, but then that hand went up for John Connelly. So I grew up around a lot of Republicans, but I talked a lot of politics. The first campaign I ever was involved in that, I guess I was involved in some of Mayor Rousakis campaigns handing out stuff, leaflets and stuff. But Phyllis Kravitch was running for state court, and she 00:03:00won and ultimately became a judge on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. So I got involved in that, and then I got involved in President Carters campaign when I was a senior in high school, and Ive been involved ever since.
SHORT: So after Savannah Country Day, you went off to college.
KAHN: I went to Emory. I had debated in high school and debated at Emory, whichwas great training for research and argument skills and analytical skills. My record wasnt very good, but I learned a lot from it.
SHORT: And then to law school.
KAHN: And then I went to law school at the University of Georgia. While I wasin law school, I met some folks from Representative Joe Frank Harris campaign. I ended up--while most people are doing summer clerkships and stuff in law school, I worked in Governor Harris campaign. As a matter of fact, I 00:04:00worked between the first and second year of law school when the campaign was just starting. Then between the second and third I worked, and I worked in Fulton County. He wasnt supposed to win the nomination. When I did, it was about time for me to go back to law school. I said, Well, back then we did the hard part. So Im going to stick around. So two days after classes started, I called the registrar and said, Im going to come back in January. He got all over me. He said, You need to tell us that earlier. So I worked in the campaign in the fall, and then Governor Harris got elected. When I got out of law school, I wanted to get involved in politics, but a lot of people had told me, You need to spend a little time practicing law. I 00:05:00didnt want to do it at the time, but I did. I went to work for Jim Oxendine, who is in Gwinnett County, and it was a general practice, and did a little bit of everything. Of course, Jims son is now running for governor. Hes the insurance commissioner.
SHORT: As a Republican.
KAHN: As a Republican.
SHORT: One of those people who switched parties.
KAHN: He picked the right time--not that theres a right time to switch, buthe switched in 94 and rode the wave and got elected insurance commissioner. So I did that for a couple of years. While I was working for Jim, whos now a judge in Gwinnett--hes a senior judge. Governor Harris had appointed Robert Benham to the Court of Appeals, the first African American on the court. They asked me to help him go to Harris, and Judge Benham asked me to help with the campaign. So I ran that campaign. 00:06:00
SHORT: That was your first real campaign.
KAHN: Yeah, first campaign I had run. I mean, Id been involved in campaigns.
KAHN: I thought I knew everything. You will never know everything. But that wasa campaign where you dealt with lawyers.
SHORT: How do you go about running a state campaign for a judge?
KAHN: Its very tough. Its very tough. Especially back then, an AfricanAmerican running statewide, that was an unknown. But he had the benefit of being an incumbent and having the establishment behind him. Although having the establishment behind you in some years is not a good idea. But we set out to run a statewide campaign like any statewide campaign thats much bigger. Of course, there you end up only being able to do certain things.
SHORT: Did he have opposition?
KAHN: He had, I believe, three people running against him. So our concern was a00:07:00runoff. But Judge Benham enjoyed campaigning, and he liked going all over the state, hitting the Rotary Clubs, stuff like that. We raised money, which, at the time, was a fair amount. I believe it was $150,000. We did spend it on travel and radio, basically and he won. He won without a runoff.
SHORT: Youre best known as a political consultant, as a mentor and campaignmanager for Roy Barnes. When did you meet Roy Barnes?
KAHN: I met him in the governors race in 1982. I was working Fulton andobviously, he was part of the leadership of the campaign and did a lot in Cobb, and we did Metro Atlanta stuff together. At that time, parts of Metro Atlanta, 00:08:00including Cobb and North Fulton, were rapidly going Republican. 1980 was a watershed year for the Republicans. I was in law school at the time, and I remember I went to the Carter victory party. Id been working in law school really hard and Id been looking forward to going to Atlanta, to the Americana, for the victory party for a couple of weeks, because I had worked in the campaign before I went to law school. So I get in the car and drive on over here, and I walk into the hotel ballroom at like five after 7:00. This was the first year of exit polls, and everything had been called. Back then, the networks had not adopted consistent red and blue. So one station it was all red, 00:09:00and the other station, it was all blue and when I thought red was Democrat, I thought, Oh, its looking good. But, no, thats the wrong network. So Id walked in there at 7:05 and at 7:20, I got back in my car and rode back to Athens. I was in the law library at 9:00. But that night, we thought Talmadge had won. So Im walking to class the next morning trying not to see all these Republicans Id trash-talked, and I see a headline, it was the later edition of the paper, that Mattingly had won, and hed won on the strength of even though Carter had won the state, he got like 81% of the vote in Cobb County, of 00:10:00a very elevated turnout. So thats what we were dealing with in 82, was Republican areas and what was the suburbs, what is the suburbs and, happily, those areas are coming back. So in that campaign, Roy had had experience dealing with Republicans. He had always had opposition before that and, really, since. So we were working on how to carve out Democrat votes in the Republican areas.
SHORT: Let me ask you this question, and you dont have to answer it. Is ittrue that Roy Barnes was once a young Republican on the campus at the University of Georgia?
KAHN: Yes. Yes.
SHORT: Why do you think he switched over?
KAHN: Well, youve talked to him. We both know politicians who change ther00:11:00mind from time to time.
KAHN: But he got into--back then, that was sort of the populist rebellious group.
SHORT: Young people.
KAHN: Yeah. Yeah.
SHORT: Yeah, young people.
KAHN: I think it had a little bit to do with Governor Maddox, who was governorat the time. But he switched back to Democrat, because thats where he thought the . . .
SHORT: Thats where his forefathers were.
KAHN: Yeah. Democrats believe in not just looking out for a certain small groupof people.
SHORT: Early in your relationship, did you know that one day Roy Barnes mightrun for governor? 00:12:00
KAHN: Well, he was talking about running for the Senate in 86, and he didthat for a couple of weeks. Then he didnt run. I didnt know him that well at the time. I knew him okay. But after the 86 campaign, I had a good idea he was going to run for governor.
SHORT: Well, lets talk about that first campaign in 1990, when he ranagainst a field, including Lieutenant Governor Zell Miller and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young.
SHORT: How did you look at that race?
KAHN: Wrong. I had been executive director of the Democratic Party under theHarris administration, and John Henry Anderson was chairman. In some respects, Roy was considered the heir apparent to Governor Harris, and had a lot of the 00:13:00Harris people supporting him.
SHORT: Lets stop there for a minute and point out that Georgia governors priorto Harris, had been Busbee and they all came from the state legislature.
SHORT: And Roy was cut from that mold. He was in the state legislature for anumber of years, and he was certainly knowledgeable in state government. Was that an asset in the race?
KAHN: Yeah. Yeah. We thought it would be. But hed been in the state senatefor 16 years. He was elected in 1974. He was looking to run a race just like Harris and Busbee had. Well, when you try to run last years race, youre generally unsuccessful and he was. There were a lot of reasons why 1990 wasnt like 1982 or 1974. 00:14:00
KAHN: First of all, Roy came out of the Senate and not the House. Which wasimportant, because the House had a candidate.
SHORT: And the House had a very powerful organization statewide.
KAHN: Yeah. While Im not sure the House was enthusiastic about theircandidate, they were behind him. That was a place for them to park and not be for anybody else. So thats why 1990 was not like 1982 or 74. Secondly, Zell Miller knew what he wanted to do in a campaign for governor, and he knew what he wanted to do as governor. He had a great campaign; he had a great organization, and it was well-funded.
SHORT: And a great issue.
KAHN: And a great issue. He had several good issues.
SHORT: The lottery.
KAHN: The lottery. I mean, believe me, I saw those ads over and over again: thelottery, boot camps for first offenders, and cracking down on health insurance 00:15:00companies. So it was a good campaign, well done. Then there was another thing to the race, and that was former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young was running and he was very popular. Hed just finished his term as mayor. We had not gotten the Olympics at that point, but there was talk about it and he was well-known all over the world. He was making a pitch in rural Georgia, which ultimately didnt work. But he was an interesting, good candidate. So there was no room for Roy. Roy exceeded everybodys expectations but our own, and he came in a strong third. 00:16:00
SHORT: Yeah. How did he take that defeat?
KAHN: He was all right. The biggest problem was he had loaned the campaignmoney, and the next day he wrote a check to pay it off.
SHORT: Right. If I were him, I would take it pretty hard.
KAHN: Yeah. The handwriting was on the wall. I mean, it was uphill, and we knewtwo weeks before, and we made some resource decisions on that basis. But we knew that the room just wasnt there. Now, he got like 20%, 21% of the vote. He ended up exceeding what our last poll showed that he was going to get, because a lot of the undecideds ended up breaking for him. But he knew it was going to happen.
SHORT: What happened then?
KAHN: Well, there was a runoff between Lieutenant Governor Miller and MayorYoung, and most of the state went for Zell Miller. I had a commitment and a 00:17:00friendship with Andy Young that went back, really, to the 1988 Convention. While I was director of the party, we had pursued the Democratic Convention, and we got it. Atlanta hosted the 1988 Democratic Convention. I ended up being named president of Atlanta 88, which was the host organization, which did the parties, but also managed the budget of the citys commitments and these conventions, theyll go in and theyll strike commitments out of cities and in this case, it was the city and the state. So we had this organization called Atlanta 88 which was chaired by Mayor Young. But on the board was Governor Harris, the Fulton County Commission Chairman, Michael Lomax; the head of the 00:18:00chamber here, Bob Holder; and John Henry Anderson, the chair of the party. So those were my bosses. But Andy Young was the chairman, and I dealt with him a lot. One of the most difficult things I ever did was, Andy had been talking to me about running his campaign, and it was one Saturday afternoon in March of 1989 and I went out to see him at his house to tell him I was going to work for Roy. We had a great relationship and he was great as chair, and the convention was a success. So I was talking to him. Actually it was a Sunday. I was supposed to go out on a Saturday and I stayed up all night. I was just nervous, and I couldnt sleep or anything. So I called him up to confirm. He said, I had something come up. Can we do this tomorrow? So I went through the same thing 00:19:00over again the next night. So I went out there Sunday afternoon and it was one of the most difficult things I ever did, because hes a very nice person. I mean, hes a hero. I said, Im going to work for Roy Barnes. And he said, Well, I dont really know Roy, but Ive heard good things about him. But if Roy doesnt make it, will you be for me? And I said, Absolutely. So the primary election happens. A lot of people had made that commitment to Andy, but they expected him to finish first going into the runoff. As it happened, the Lieutenant Governor finished first, and a strong first, and it was obvious he was going to be the nominee. He had the money; he had the momentum; he had the issues, and he was going to be the nominee. But Andy called 00:20:00me up and said, He ran a good race. Now come help me. I said, Ill be there tomorrow.
SHORT: Did that cause any hard feelings with Miller?
KAHN: I believe it did. And thats too bad. But Keith Mason and I were in lawschool together and the day before the runoff, the Young people said, Well, why dont you fly around the state with Andy? My wife wasnt too wild about me getting in small planes, and today, Im not wild about getting in small planes. But back then I said, That would be great. And a side note: this was right before the Olympic decision and it was right after Saddam Hussein 00:21:00had invaded Kuwait, and one of Mayor Youngs really good friends who was on the Olympic Committee, had been killed in the invasion. He was talking about that and then a reporter asked him about the Olympics. And he said, Yeah, I think weve got a good shot of getting the Olympics. And Im thinking to myself, Yeah, and you think youre going to win tomorrow. So what I was going to tell you, it turned out we were, when you do these fly-arounds, youre running into candidates all the time and we were in Augusta, and we had landed just as Miller had taken off and Keith was on the plane, and Keith called a mutual friend. And he said, Youre not going to believe whats going 00:22:00on. Kahn just got off the plane with Andy. I cant believe hes doing that. So, yeah, there were hard feelings.
SHORT: But youre over them now.
KAHN: Over them now. The interesting thing was, after the election, thatswhen I got into what ultimately became what I do now. We had figured out after the campaign that TV stations were overchargig. They were ripping off candidates. The FCC had done an audit and showed that they were overcharging us. So I got with Roy, and then we got with some other people, Matt Towery and some Republicans, and prepared to go after the stations. We waited til after the election. But we put a demand on all the stations in Georgia, and our clients 00:23:00included Zell Miller. So TV brought us together and we recovered a fair amount of money. He had spent the most, so we recovered a lot of money for the Miller campaign. We ended up doing this all over the country and I shifted from the litigation because I learned so much about it, I shifted from the litigation side to the media buying side, because I knew what the stations were doing.
SHORT: Are you still doing that?
KAHN: Yeah. I started an agency. I sold it when I went into the GovernorsOffice, but I returned when I was no longer in the Governors Office. I thought I always would, but I didnt think Id return quite as early as I did. The voters had other things in mind. But Governor Miller and I had talked some in the 98 campaign, because he was helping Roy. I went to shoot with 00:24:00him, and it was a little--we had some banter. Then when Roy appointed him to the Senate when Paul Coverdell died, when Roy appointed Governor Miller to the Senate, then I worked with him closely, and we obviously got along well then.
SHORT: Tell us about that decision.
KAHN: Everybody was shocked when Paul Coverdell died. He and Roy were friendsfrom when they served in the Senate together. They were both urban/suburban legislators. They were kind of reform-minded and worked on stuff together, so they were friends and his death was a shock, and so Roy sat there with an 00:25:00appointment that he never expected to have. He thought about it and thought that Governor Miller had the best chance of holding the seat.
SHORT: Yeah. An election was coming up.
KAHN: An election was coming up, and itd be a special, in 2000. So heappointed him. He flew up to Young Harris and met with him, and two days later he appointed him.
SHORT: I need to ask this question: what was his and your reaction toMillers performance as a United States senator?
KAHN: Well, Ill speak for myself. You talked to Roy. But that was when ourrelationship soured again, because he put Senator Cleland in some difficult 00:26:00positions. But we knew he was independent and of his own mind, and that was fine. He voted the way, I think, the way he thought he should vote. Where it became difficult for us was after 02 and he started really basically voting Republican, siding with the Republicans and thumbing his nose and sticking his finger in the eyes of the Democrats. It just so happened that at this time I became chairman of the party and I had a job to do, and he had a job to do, and it didnt exactly fit. Now, I was under a lot of pressure from people in the 00:27:00party who were very upset with Senator Miller, and they wanted to kick him out of the party and have these resolutions against him and all that kind of stuff. My position was, A, you cant kick him out of the party. He doesnt have a membership card and we dont want to really stir this up, because, as it happened, a lot of people agree with him. We were trying to get votes, so the best thing to do was lay low. Well, there were party activists and people who had been friends and supporters of Roy and Zell who wanted something done. So it was left to me to criticize him. I didnt go out of my way to do it. But he 00:28:00gave that speech at the Republican Convention, and I had to say something and I did, and he didnt like it. I remember he wrote this letter about the deacons of disaster. This was in the 04 campaign. He was talking about me, Ben Jones and President Carter. So the deacons of disaster: Cooter, Kahn and Carter. And we had to do something, and we did. Now, one of the things we did is we took his clips from the 92 campaign, when he was getting up there at the Democratic Convention and gave a great speech, one of the great speeches of his career, I think.
SHORT: Hear this voice.
KAHN: Yeah, it was a great speech. He bashed President Bush '41. It was a00:29:00popular speech. It was anti-Republican and we put clips of that on the Internet, and we put some of them on cable television. I dont think he liked that. You would know.
SHORT: Its hard to tell. Hard to tell.
KAHN: Oh, I dont think so.
SHORT: Well, Bobby, lets get back, if you will, for a minute to that periodbetween 1990 and 1998 when you and Roy Barnes were vacationing. What happened during that period before he ran in 1998?
KAHN: Well, he ran for the House. Hed been in the Senate, and he ran for theHouse in 1992 and he won. He ran from Mableton, basically. And it was just a piece of the Senate district. I mean, it was his home area and he won. He won 00:30:00rather handily. And he goes for the caucus meeting. Or at some time he talked to Speaker Murphy. The Speaker said, Well, what committees do you want to be on? And Roy says he said, Oh, I dont want to be on committees. Ill do everything from the floor. The Speaker said, Thats what Im afraid of. No. So he ended up serving where I mean, the natural place for him was the Judiciary Committee. Thats an important committee, obviously, in the House, a lot of good people on that committee and they take themselves very seriously. Of course, Roy had been chairman of judiciary in the Senate, and he had been co-chair of the Constitutional Revision Committee. I mean, he was serving with Groover, with Denmark Groover, in 92, I guess. So they sort of 00:31:00were the elder statesman and the people who wrote a lot of things in the bills that some people understood, but most people didnt.
SHORT: What was your relationship with him during that period?
KAHN: Well, that was when I was doing the TV litigation.
SHORT: Oh, I see. Yeah. So you were in constant . . .
KAHN: I was in his law office.
SHORT: Oh, yeah.
KAHN: And he was on the cases with us and he argued we had severalappellate decisions, appellate arguments, and he made them, or he participated in them. I would talk to him about the cases, because a lot of it was negotiation and we had some overall issues about where we were going to pursue this, in court or at the FCC. So I had a case. I mean, there were lawyers in the 00:32:00firm that would joke, Hows your case? I had one case. But we represented 50 people, and we had 100 stations we were pursuing. So I practiced law out of his office between, basically, 91 and 98 and I ran or I guess I ran his legislative races. I was treasurer of his legislative races and helped him raise the money, and we would do the mail and the phones and stuff. In 96, he decided he was going to run for governor. But he couldnt announce before he qualified for reelection. It looked like he was going to not have opposition, because the Cobb party and the Republicans had always qualified somebody. But they were focusing on a lot of other seats, and this seat really 00:33:00wasnt one they could take. But at the last minute, he ended up with opposition. So he had to run a race and he couldnt start running for governor. But during the fall of 96, we were preparing for his campaign and shortly after the election, he was telling people he was going to run. Maybe even a little before the election, he was telling people he was going to run, thinking that if he were getting out there that Lieutenant Governor Howard would not. But Pierre went ahead and got out there probably in late October or early November. So he was running. Pierre was running and then Roy started raising money after the 96 election and raised a couple hundred-thousand, as did Pierre, going in 97. During the 97 session, the big fear was Mike Bowers. 00:34:00
SHORT: Had he switched parties?
KAHN: He switched before the 94 election. His timing was good, too. So goinginto the 97 session, Mike Bowers was this reformer, attorney general, white knight, all that sort of stuff. There was a lot of concern in the legislature, among the Democrats in the legislature, House, and Senate that Roy and Pierre were going to ill themselves, they were going to get in a bitter fight and all that. So a lot of leadership talked to Roy about running for lieutenant 00:35:00governor, talked to both of them about not having a nasty primary. So, toward the end of the session, Roy and Pierre talked, and Roy decided he was going to run for lieutenant governor and Pierre was going to run for governor. Obviously there wouldnt be a ticket, but Roy would engender a fair amount of good will by stepping back and avoiding a bloody primary. Roy and Pierre did some things that some later candidates might have observed.
KAHN: Avoiding a bloody primary. Im thinking back to the 06 primary.
SHORT: Well, I want to get that, but not at this time.
KAHN: So Roy was off and running for lieutenant governor in April of 97.Hes raising money, and at that point--this is still Georgia law--but we were 00:36:00going through some steps to convert the money race for governor to lieutenant governor, and we had not done that. We were just focused on getting new pledges. So in August, Roys in Florida. I know what it was. Roy and I had gone to a sheriffs meeting up at Chateau lan, and then we were going to go over to Blairsville to a Howard fundraiser and this was before GPS and, really, before Mapquest, and my sense of direction isnt very good. But we basically had to cross mountains, so we were a little late. So we went to Blairsville. I saw Pierre there and talked to him. I said, Hey, Ive got a business. Id like to do your buy. He said, Well, lets get together. 00:37:00So we set a time. I called him, and I was going to go by and see him on I think it was a Friday, and I was going to see him that afternoon. That morning Im getting calls. Pierre called me and said, I may want to talk to Roy, but can we move our meeting from 3:00 to 4:00? I said, Sure. So I started getting calls right after I talked to Pierre that hes going to drop out. I said, No way. I just talked to him. So then the calls kept coming, and finally I called Roy. I said, I dont believe this is the case, but, boy, the grapevine is really on fire. Then we got confirmation of it and I called up somebody who worked for Pierre and I finally said, I take it were not meeting this afternoon. So the whole thing was a mystery, particularly in light of I mean, Pierre had a great fundraiser. It was a 00:38:00great event, a people event and a money event, in Blairsville. That may have been a Tuesday or a Wednesday, and this was a Friday. I may have the days wrong. So the whole thing was a mystery.
SHORT: So there was no arrangement between the two?
KAHN: You mean for him to get out and Roy to get back in?
KAHN: No. It was a surprise. I mean, Pierre invited Roy to this fundraiserbecause, obviously, they were friends. Theyd been friends since they were part of the Gang of Five in the Senate that did all this reform stuff.
SHORT: Tell me what you remember about the Gang of Five.
KAHN: Well, Im kicking myself for bringing this up, because every time Italk about it, I have to go look it up. But they were doing reform stuff on campaign finance and consumer issues and things like that and as far as I can 00:39:00remember, Roy was one, Ed Hine was one, Pierre Howard was one, Paul Trulock was one.
SHORT: And youre missing the undertaker.
SHORT: No, no. The present-day Mayor of Carrollton.
KAHN: Oh, thats right. Wayne Garner. Wayne Garner.
SHORT: Yes, Wayne Garner.
KAHN: Yeah, yeah.
SHORT: The Gang of Five.
KAHN: Thats right. And Roy and Zell had a on-and-off friendship. I mean,when they got there--they both got there in 75 from the 74 election, and they were both reformers. Busbee did--there was some really pro-consumer stuff that was done in the mid 70s that you could never get done today. The Governors Office of Consumer Affairs, which probably has been gutted. There 00:40:00was some really good landlord-tenant stuff for the tenant in there and there were some other things. I guess the Consumer Utility Council. I think Roy and Zell were allies on that. But then Roy became Joe Franks floor leader, and Zell was coming off of the Senate race and so they were kind of in different places, so there was natural tension there. But I think the Gang of Five stuff probably bothered the Lieutenant Governor at the time. But thats what I remember about it.
SHORT: Well, Howard withdrew. Roy became the leading candidate, but he got someopposition from the Howard camp.
KAHN: Yeah. Well, Roy, we talked the day that Pierre dropped out and prettywell figured this was you need to move fast and Bert Lance talked to me, and 00:41:00he said, This is Roys chance. Hes got to take it. So he came back the next day. He was going to come back a few days later. Imagine that, Roy Barnes cutting a vacation short. So he came back and he announced he was going to run. Lewis Massey, who was Secretary of State, had been appointed by Governor Miller to fill Max Clelands unexpired term, because Max had resigned to run for the Senate. Lewis ran a good campaign in 96 and was popular. He got in the primary, too, thinking he would inherit a lot of Howards support and he got some of it. But the good will that Roy had engendered within a lot of 00:42:00the people that were pushing Roy to run for lieutenant governor and not have a fight were friends with boy Roy and Pierre, and they immediately came to Roy. The time was right. I mean, that was an election about experience and it was a little early for Lewis to be running for governor. Roy ran on his record and this was happening around the country. Gray Davis in California was up against two very well-financed challengers in the primary and he ran on experience, and he won the primary. He wasnt supposed to. So that was a good year.
SHORT: Lewis did a very gracious thing, I thought, when he suspended his campaign.
SHORT: And that obviously helped the Barnes effort.00:43:00
KAHN: Oh, absolutely. Roy had gotten like 48.9%, 49% of the vote. Lewis wassecond. These things take time. And so after a couple of days, he decided he didnt want to continue and so Lewis and Roy and Governor Miller had a press conference in Governor Millers office, and it was a unity press conference. That helped a lot.
SHORT: Saved your campaign some money?
KAHN: Saved campaign money. Didnt have to run a runoff. Although, we wereconcerned about turnout, so we had to do a little bit of a runoff campaign. But it was mainly with the idea of everybodys pulling together, lets move toward the general election. So, obviously, won the runoff. Saved a lot of money. Had a unified party going into the general election. They were supposed 00:44:00to have a runoff, but they didnt.
SHORT: They didnt. Thats right.
KAHN: Roy had just come under 50%. Milner had gotten over 50% and that provideda little sense of urgency about getting together. Of course, Milner had run this was the third time for him. He had almost beat he came very close to beating Governor Miller. The Cleland race was close. So the third time could have been the charm.
SHORT: Were you afraid of him?
KAHN: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I mean, he had all the money in the world. He hadlearned. The candidate who loses learns, and he had learned from his last two elections. One of the things he did, particularly in the 94 election, was, and a lot of self-funders do this, he thought he would do it on the cheap amd he 00:45:00ended up at the end dumping a bunch of money in, that if he had spent it earlier, he could have spent it more wisely. But he wasnt going to make that mistake this time. So we knew that and he started in on Roy immediately, just hammering him on television: soft on crime, too liberal for Georgia. Soft on welfare, too liberal for Georgia.
SHORT: Sounds like Karl Rove.
KAHN: Yeah. So it was a tough campaign.
SHORT: But you won handily.
KAHN: Yeah. To our great shock. The margin, that is.
SHORT: Yeah. That was surprising to some people.
KAHN: Oh, yeah. Yeah. But it was a good year for Democrats. It was a good yearfor Democrats nationally and here.
SHORT: So Roy Barnes becomes Governr, and you move into the capitol.
KAHN: I wasnt planning on doing that, either.00:46:00
KAHN: No. I enjoyed my business, and Id never been in government before. Butit seemed like a good thing to do.
SHORT: Its a lot of responsibility.
KAHN: Yes. Yes.
SHORT: Im going to ask you this question. Again, you dont have to answer.But you were known as a tough guy in the Barnes administration. Are you a tough guy?
KAHN: Well, I have this reputation. But when people meet me, they tell me Imnot so bad. I mean, as far as I was concerned, I had a constituency of one. I guess some people have to say no, and Roy wasnt too good at that. I think you go back to every chief of staff, executive secretary the governors job is to say yes, and your job is to say no. Roy knew 00:47:00what he was doing as governor and he knew state government. He knew the legislature. I think one thing that nobody appreciates until they get there is just how big government is and how entrenched the bureaucracy is. The department heads would come over and, Oh, yeah, well do that. Whatever you want. Then getting it done within the bureaucracy is a whole other matter. But Roy had a very ambitious agenda, legislative agenda, and was very successful in getting it passed and there were some tough votes.
SHORT: Lets talk about some of his accomplishments. What do you think was00:48:00his greatest accomplishment?
KAHN: I think overall it was his vision when it came to transportation andinfrastructure issues like water. But globally, its that sort of thing and having a handle on what the state needs to do to educate its kids, grow and that sort of thing. Now, we had a lot of issues within that. I think his management of the budget was really good. Really good, in retrospect.
KAHN: But, I mean, we had a lot of issues within that. The first year we didtransportation, also did healthcare, doctor-choice. But those were some contentious things. Transportation, not so, compared to healthcare, because for 00:49:00healthcare there were lobbyists. For transportation, there was no organized group saying, We dont want to do that. Well, there became one. So the first year we did that.
SHORT: That was the Northern Arc.
KAHN: That came up later. Yeah. That was part of an overall transportation planand that actually came in 2001, and it was part of an integrated transportation plan that included light rail and buses and highways. The Northern Arc was one of them. The Northern Arc was actually a compromise. It was a piece of the Outer Perimeter. I mean, theres been plans on the books of DOT to build a perimeter around 285 probably since the 70s. This was just connecting 75 to 85 north of 00:50:00Atlanta and that became, for people living in the path and people who didnt want spend on it because it was expensive a great rallying cry.
SHORT: Then theres 2002 reelection. Lets talk about that.
KAHN: Well, we need to talk about two sessions of the legislature before.
KAHN: Youre the interviewer, though.
SHORT: Thats good.
KAHN: In 2000 we did education reform, and that became very controversial,obviously. It was a comprehensive education reform that Roy had been studying education. He was on Governor Harris Education Reform Commission, and he knew these issues pretty well. He puts his own commission together and two of the 00:51:00models they were looking at were North Carolina, and Roys good friends with former Governor Hunt, and theyve done a lot to improve education over there. The other one was Texas with Governor Bush and he had pulled a lot of their reforms from North Carolina. Then, Governor Bush used mainly Texas, because thats what he was familiar with, for No Child Left Behind. So this was in the era of testing and accountability and that sort of thing and one of the big problems with No Child Left Behind was it wasnt funded. But a lot of the concepts were in there, were in No Child Left Behind and the Governor Barnes education reform. The one that gets all the attention is doing away with teacher tenure. I mean, there was a bad tactical decision made there and I will tell it. 00:52:00I will go through it with you. Roy wanted to do something about fair dismissal and basically getting like another year or two of probation. I dont know all the terms. Im not that familiar with the whole education reform effort, other than helping to get it passed. But he wanted to get a couple more years of probation before they fell under the Fair Dismissal Act for Tenure. We talked to the leaders and the teacher organization, GAE, PAGE, and all that, and he said, What can we do on this? They came back and said, Nothing. So we 00:53:00said, Well, if were going to have a fight on our hands, lets go for something that is really big. I mean, we never thought wed get it passed. But Roy was good at getting stuff passed and that became the focus of the bill, and it was only a small part of it and it was a mistake to do it. That became the rallying cry. The interesting thing was, a lot of what we were doing, including getting rid of tenure, were Republican ideas and when bill was introduced in the House, there were a couple-hundred changes made to it, and most of those changes were offered up by Republicans. The Republicans came to Roy and said, We want to work with you on this, and were going to have this little committee. It had Earl Ehrhart, Brooks Coleman and two or three people on it. They made most of the changes that went into the House version of 00:54:00the bill. By the time it hit the Senate, there was just a storm because of tenure, and then there were other things. Superintendents saw that they were going to lose control over the expenditure of money and that sort of thing. So the Republicans lined up, including Senator Perdue and Senator Eric Johnson, and they fought it and we passed it in the Senate, but there were some senators and some House members who lost because of their vote on education reform. Then it just became an easy thing to talk about and the rallying cry and we were feeling pretty good about our ability to pass stuff, so we went ahead and passed it. We probably well, we shouldnt have. Because its not the focus of 00:55:00education reform, and it just gave everybody a rallying cry.
SHORT: Changing the flag also became an issue.
KAHN: The flag. Not something that Roy wanted to get into, because he knew itwould dominate. But the problem was, it was dominating everything. It was part of every discussion. But even then, he didnt want to necessarily want to get into it. He thought if he made a move at passing it, he had one shot in his term, or even terms, as governor. If he failed, itd be another 10 years before you could look at it. But we were getting pressure from all kinds of 00:56:00places. The biggest came from the NCAA. They were scheduled to have, I think, the Final Four and a bunch of ACC and SEC tournaments in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and I think there was one recently. Those were all on the table. In fact, the NCAA moved something out of South Carolina recently because of their flag controversy. But we were getting a lot of pressure and then we were getting pressure from legislators, African American and urban/suburban Democrats, white Democrats who were feeling it from their constituents. So this would have been in 01. We had basically ridden it out until--Im talking about in 2000. We had ridden it out in the first year. But it kept coming back, and it would come 00:57:00up in the context of legislative initiatives. So it wasnt going away, and it was going to become a part of everything we did. But even then, it was December of 2000 and if youd asked me December 1st if he was going to do anything, I would have said no. Then we were in a meeting of the legislative leadership and this was the Democrats. This was pretty well rural-dominated, but a lot of them had big African American constituencies. They started talking about, We need to do something. Of course, a legislator saying that and then wanting to do it is another thing. Theyve been known to change their minds, too. Speaker Murphy said, Yall re crazy. So we were talking, talking it through, and the business community was putting a lot of pressure on 00:58:00us. So at that point, we had resurrected something that Cecil Alexander had done after Governor Miller had tried to change the flag and it was a field of blue with a seal which was the original state flag, which would have been--or field of blue and the coat of arms, I guess, was the original state flag, which seemed like a pretty good flag. But then he had every flag that had flown over the United States, Great Britain, France, Spain and all that. So then we started to talking to some of the people that didnt want to change the flag, and said, Well, what if we had on here some representation of the 56 flag? They 00:59:00were open to it. So we were playing around with a glue stick, cutting and pasting and stuff and it was in early January. Denmark Groover came up for a judges swearing in and came in and talked to us and at this point we still didnt think we were going to do anything. This was January of 2001. We still didnt think we were going to do anything. Denmark Groover came in, and voted on the 56 flag and he said, You need to change the flag. So Roy came back to my office and said, Come in here and bring your folder. I did, and showed him the various iterations and talked about it. So then we at this point 01:00:00started talking among ourselves. We had gotten a letter at this point from Eric Johnson, who was Republican leader of the Senate. Or it wasnt a letter to us; it was a letter to his colleagues saying, Dont fall for it. Dont take the bait. This was a Democrat problem. You know, they say, Democrat. They made the flag in 56. Let them figure it out. We dont need to help. So, were not going to get their help. But at one point Eric sent word that if we would work with them on reapportionment, they would help us on the flag, a deal we should have taken. Given that, there was no way you were going to get many Republicans to help. They were going to play this for every 01:01:00racial point they could. So here we are into the second week in January, and we start talking to legislators, leadership, but never let a copy of the thing out. They were warming up to it. Never as a group. We would talk to them individually. Roy was scheduled to speak in Milledgeville around the 21st, 22nd of January. It was on the original capitol, and it was an historic thing and all that sort of thing. So the legislature was going to be in recess Monday and Tuesday. So we thought we would make a run at it. So then we started getting together and putting a game plan together and talked to Ed Holcomb, who was at 01:02:00Georgia Power at the time and helping the chamber, because his boss was head of the chamber, of the Atlanta Chamber. We had a meeting at the Governors Mansion after the speech in Milledgeville and at that point, Roy started calling the Senate leadership, because we were going to do this in the House. Pretty much had the House leadership at least sort of there.
SHORT: Including the Speaker?
KAHN: Roy had gone up to see him like maybe Friday of the previous week. Idont know. Let me talk to my boys. Of course, we had already talked to those boys. So this was when the test was coming, the people that said, Our people want to do something, whether they would follow through. They were 01:03:00looking for a leader, and he was it. So we made the move and we knew that we had one shot at it, so that was the whole thing about the doing it quickly.
SHORT: Yeah. How did doing it quickly really happen? The public was not awareof that.
KAHN: No. Well, there was a bill, and it needed to get changed in the Houserules. The House Rules Chairman was Calvin Smyre, and wed been talking to him for months. So we were going to change it in the House rules, and they were going to vote it onto the floor. Which is unusual, but they did. Well, listen, 01:04:00the press, right when it happened, was pretty good. It was a masterful stroke, had the Republicans complaining about it. But the people, by and large, thought we needed the ones that the press talked to, thought we needed to change the flag. But then the protest started. We figured if you had the protest and everything beforehand, there was no way you were going to pass it. We had one shot at it, and we wanted to get it out of the way.
SHORT: And you did.
KAHN: As a legislative matter. The idea was wed vote it into the House onWednesday or Tuesday and then get it into the Senate, because we didnt want them going home. But there were some the Senate has tougher rules. So it was coming up, I guess, Monday or Tuesday after they came back. So they went home, and we worked the Senate over the weekend. It barely passed the House, and it 01:05:00barely passed the Senate and we had Republican votes both times. But there were legislators who lost because of it.
SHORT: What was your relationship with the group known now as theFlaggers? Did they have any input?
KAHN: Actually, we had talked to some of them beforehand. I dont know all ofthem, but there are people that I know within those groups. We had talked to them beforehand, and they said, Well, we dont like it. But having that on there, the 56 flag on there is better than not having it on there. There was no way they were going to go for the pre-56 flag, which is basically the flag we have today, because it was considered a civil rights flag. Which, ironically enough, it was the flag of the Confederacy, not the battle flag. So we had talked to some of them. But, listen, when the Republicans got hold of it 01:06:00in the Senate and then the protest happened, it became the teacher thing, only a whole lot worse. Just the pounding. Then people started talking about how ugly the flag was and, listen, it was not a thing of beauty. It was a vehicle for change. As far as I was concerned and a lot of people were concerned, just the coat of arms or the seal on a field of blue would suffice. But they called it the Dennys placemat and all that sort of thing. So it became a rallying cry, another rallying cry, both what was done and how it was done. But you could not have gone it was a transition flag. You could not have gone from the 56 flag to the pre-56 flag that had been the symbol of wanting to get rid 01:07:00of the 56 flag for 20 years, you couldnt have gone straight to that.
SHORT: Another thorny issue was reapportionment.
SHORT: Lets talk for a minute about that.
KAHN: We should have taken Erics deal. Reapportionment has never been apretty process.
SHORT: Now, this was in what year?
KAHN: It would have been 2001. It would have been after the flag thing. Sothings were not going well with the Republicans as it was. The history of reapportionment had always been incumbents taking care of themselves. It was a nasty, nasty game. They had the constraints of the Voting Rights Act and Justice Department. So both Democrats and Republicans would use that in whatever they 01:08:00did. But the number-one goal was incumbents taking care of themselves. Well, our view was, thats a good way to lose a lot more seats. Because while one incumbent Democrat can win a seat, the next person, because its done to his or her choosing, and you get this neighborhood and that neighborhood there, when that person retires or, in a bad year gets beat, like 94 then its going to go Republican. The map-drawing tools had gotten a lot better. So we thought, Yeah. I mean, politics had always driven it before, but wed inject a little politics in it to the benefit of the Democrats. I mean, that angered Democrats and Republicans, because Democratic House leaders didnt want us 01:09:00sticking our nose in their business and taking away precincts that included their relatives. So the party, which was the Governor, was very active in doing what parties do, which is promote things in the interest of the party, and that included some maps that favored Democrats and it offended legislators who wanted to draw their own maps, and it offended Republicans who saw what was going on to the detriment of Republicans. It offended some people who look at maps and dont like splitting up counties and communities. So that became another rallying cry. But again, I dont see--I mean, if youre going to do it, you 01:10:00dont have politics in it and thats where you have a commission, which some states do, and try to eliminate politics from it. But if youre going to have politics in it, I dont see a whole lot of difference between drawing it partisan for Democrats or drawing it partisan for an incumbent. Now, as it happened, Democrats in the legislature, I mean, our view was you pack the Republicans together, but dont put them in with each other. Why anger them those are going to be Republican seats. Let them be incumbent Republican seats. But a lot of legislators wanted to stick it to the Republicans, so they put Republicans together, and that made things worse. But on a congressional map, even with the Republicans redoing it, we ended up picking up a seat.
SHORT: So all of that, the teachers, the flag, reapportionment, you move into .. .
KAHN: Northern Arc.01:11:00
SHORT: Northern Arc. You move into reelection in 2002. Tell us about that race.
KAHN: Well, you had September 11th of 2001, which just clobbered the economy,particularly the tourism business. We had had the dot-com bust, and Georgia had a lot of technology jobs. So the economy was down, and we were cutting budgets. Turns out those were the glory days of the budget compared to what weve got now. But we went into that race. We knew there were problems, but we thought we were okay. The biggest problem was, Roy, other than just some what could have been anomalies, never really got above 50% in polling, in our own polling. Public polls, yeah. But in our own polling, we never got above 50%. We had 01:12:00tested all kinds of messages, and it really didnt move anybody. We tested negative messages, and people didnt care about negative stuff on Sonny Perdue. It was all about Roy. I mean, it was a well-funded campaign, and we tried a lot of things, and we lost.
SHORT: Are you surprised?
KAHN: Yeah. Yeah. I stayed in the Governors Office until June. The campaigngot up and running really late 01, but I think had an office in January of 02. I figured I would be spending more time on politics. So after bill-signing, I went over to the campaign. But it was everywhere he was 01:13:00going he was hitting Flaggers and hearing about things. I worked for Carter in 1980 between college and law school and I went to Texas and Kentucky. I went around with Charley Graves, who had been the executive director of the party. So I went places with him and I learned there that when youre running of reelection, youre spending a lot of time explaining stuff you did and apologizing. All these people that helped Carter in 76, they couldnt get calls returned and stuff like that. I mean, it wasnt all these people, but there were enough anecdotes. So there was a problem. So reelection is about the incumbent, and we gave a lot to the Republicans to run on and it wasnt a good Democratic year. Yeah, I was surprised. I thought even though we didnt get 01:14:00above 50, I thought that people would stay home and that wed have enough undecideds break our way. But we did a good job of turning out African-American vote. I mean, it was at a record level that year for a non-presidential year. It was a very strong force. We did an even better job of turning out white Republicans.
SHORT: Do you think its historically noteworthy that the Republicancandidates in 2002 were former Democrats?
KAHN: Well, I mean, without getting too inflammatory here, the base of theRepublican Party is former Democrats who switched over race. I mean, when Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and said, We lost 01:15:00the South for a generation, thats the Republican Party. Now, its included a lot of the old-style Republicans, and theyve gotten new younger people. But the base of the Republican Party is people who switched in 64. Its enough. In fact, the ironic thing about Eric Johnsons letter that we shouldnt help because it was Democrats who did it, well, the Democrats who did it, a lot of those folks became Republicans.
SHORT: Well, its 2009. We sit here on the campus of the University ofGeorgia. Theres a gubernatorial election next year. Roy Barnes is a candidate. What do you think? Will he be successful? 01:16:00
KAHN: I think so, but Ive thought that before. I mean, I think the firstperson that I ever heard say this was Zell Miller after the 1980 race--that you learn a whole lot more when you lose than when you win. Now, learning gets old after a while, but he learned a lot. He learned a lot in 1990 from Zell Miller. He learned a lot in 2002 from himself and from the people and hes taken those lessons and applied them.
SHORT: Do you think these eight years have been long enough for people toforget those issues that hampered him during his race in 2002?
KAHN: Oh, theyll be reminded of them. But I think what a lot of people want01:17:00to know is whether hes learned from those issues, what he says about those issues, and what he wants to do in the future now. I mean, the state has a lot of problems. The country has a lot of problems and in some respects, its like 98. People may be looking for experience. But you dont run the last race or even the race before that, although you do take lessons from it. But its a better time to have a conversation about those issues.
SHORT: You think hell be the same progressive and forceful governor he wasduring his term?
KAHN: Yeah. But I think hell be more patient and hell pick his issues.Its going to be tough with a its a different world with a Republican legislature and in some respects, that may make him a better governor, because he wont be able to get his way on everything. 01:18:00
SHORT: Well, Bobby, you served as chair of the Georgia Democratic Party.Lets talk about that for a minute. What happened to the Democratic Party in Georgia?
KAHN: Well, coming out of the ashes of 2002, it was tough times. It still is. Iwas interested in being chair because I wanted to help with a coordinated message for 06. I think we did that. Not to success, but we put the issues out there. We had our problems. 04 was a tough year in Georgia because of the presidential campaign and Zell being--Zell validated a lot of Independents who 01:19:00may have voted Democratic before, swing voters. But Zell validated them being Republicans. They agreed with him. I mean, he is a very persuasive communicator and made the case for George Bush very well. Now, Bush would have won Georgia anyway. But a lot of issues Zell talked about resonated. I mean, he reached people very well. But 04, we were up against a very popular candidate for the Senate, and our candidate was underfunded and not as strong. So 04 was a tough year. The maps had been redone, either by the legislature or by the courts, activist judges. So we didnt really have any hope there. So we were 01:20:00already thinking toward 2006 and the governors race and the other races. But we had a very, very bitter primary. The candidates did not get back together afterwards. Even if they had, I dont think it would have mattered. I think it would have helped down-ballot. I think it would have helped with Mark Taylors margin, but I dont think he could have beat Perdue that year, in retrospect. I mean, its taken me a while to come to this conclusion, but Sonny Perdue is a very good candidate. He reached people well, too.
SHORT: Well, the Democrats also in 06 lost an opportunity to replace the twocandidates for governor, the secretary of state and lieutenant governor.
KAHN: Yeah. We were focused on the governors race, theres no questionabout it. We had primaries for lieutenant governor and secretary of state, too. 01:21:00Those candidates were left broke. They didnt start out with much, but they were left broke. So it was tough. It was tough down the ballot. But demographics are favoring us. I think Republican performance is favoring us. Dont know if its happening quick enough for 2010. A lot of it will depend on whats going on globally and nationally with the Democratic Pary and the President. But I think with a strong top of the ticket that we can pick up some of the hold or pick up some of those other constitutional offices.
SHORT: Some disenchanted Democrats think that the state party is too alignedwith minorities and labor unions and liberals. Is that a good assessment? 01:22:00
KAHN: The party no. I mean, I understand that reputation. But itswhoever wants to get involved, really and one of the tough things and its something that Ive attempted to do with varying degrees of success since I was executive director of the party is get elected officials, legislators involved. Theyll do some stuff, but youve got to really push them. I think the key to a strong party and a lot of the constituency groups dont agree with me on this, but the key to a strong party is the involvement of elected officials, of minority, business, every form and fashion of elected officials 01:23:00and thats a diverse group here.
SHORT: Do you think the national party has an impact on elections in Georgia?
KAHN: Its all according to the election. Certainly in 1994 it did, in anegative way. In 1998, I think it had an effect in a positive way. By national party, I mean, were talking the Democratic National Committee, but also whats going on in Congress, whats going on with the President. Heretofore, if an election was nationalized, it wasnt good, by and large, for Georgia. The 08 election was nationalized, and our people did better because of the 01:24:00turnout model. So I think were better off, though, when its local candidates running on local issues.
SHORT: How long do you think it would take Georgia Democrats to regain power inthe state?
KAHN: Youre going to have to go through another I mean, youve got thegovernors race, and that would certainly go a long way toward building the party, is having a Democrat as governor. One of the chambers could go back after reapportionment. Because whats happened is the suburban areas the Mattingly story from 1980. Those areas are going Democratic. Cobb. Cobb was 45% 01:25:00Democratic this last election, and it was like 38% the previous and Gwinnett is the same way. So those areas are going Democratic, and well pick up legislative seats there, whether in 2010 by beating thats where some of our pickups came this last election whether in 2010 by knocking off incumbents, or just by reapportionment. Now, they moved out. The Republicans have moved out. Now, this is something yall probably have looked at. But if you took a look at families that lived at the stadium area, Turner Field area, in the 40s, they first moved to DeKalb and then to Northwest Atlanta and then to Gwinnett and Cobb and then to Forsyth, then Cherokee and Bartow. So as they move 01:26:00out, the Republicans are the ones that move out. But the suburban areas should be Democratic. The other thing is a lot of the people you lose in rural Georgia, where reapportionment where the legislature endeavors to protect itself in reapportionment and this is something where we had fights rural Georgias losing population. So it becomes tougher and tougher to protect those people. Well, the people in need of protection now are Republicans. Weve lost the seats down there that were going to lose, and we can start gaining some back. So its conceivable with the map under the new rules that we could start picking seats back up in 2014, 2016. 01:27:00
SHORT: Lets talk for a minute about the quality of candidates. TheRepublicans claim that they do a better job of recruiting and training candidates. What is the Democratic Party doing about that?
KAHN: Well, that is the toughest job that a party has. I mean, and its notsomething you just decide in March while weve got qualifying coming up in April and we need to recruit. I mean, thats an ongoing year-round deal. In the early days with Newt and Paul Coverdell, the Republicans picked their battles and they recruited candidates, and they did a pretty good job. At some point along the way, they recruited themselves. I mean, just areas went from Democrat to Republican and whoever was on the ballot, whatever warm body was on the ballot, won. Weve got a few of those situations now. In fact, in this 01:28:00last election, there are two or three seats where if we had had a warm body on the ballot, the seats would be Democratic. The party, I think, is focusing on the caucuses. A lot of recruiting goes on in the House and Senate caucus. Theyre looking at that now, and, I mean, those are some of the seats theyre focusing on. The trainings gotten a lot better by both parties over the years. Whether its use of the voter file, door-to-door techniques now digital on the Internet, the trainings gotten better by both parties. Recruiting has become tougher. It takes more of a time commitment for people to serve. Elections are tough and expensive. So its a challenge for both parties. The interesting thing about the 06 election, I dont think a 01:29:00single incumbent lost in the general election. So Democrat or Republican and the Republicans missed some recruiting opportunities there, as did we.
SHORT: 2010. If former Governor Barnes prevails, will you be a part of his administration?
KAHN: No. I have kids in college and I have a business. Ill help him in anyway he wants, but it will be from the outside.
SHORT: In other words, the famous Bobby Kahn will not be a factor in RoyBarnes administration.
KAHN: Four years in state government was enough for me.
SHORT: Let me ask you a very personal question. Youre well-known throughoutthe state and the nation for your political activities. How would you like to be remembered? 01:30:00
KAHN: Well, Im not too wild about the tough-guy thing. I want to beremembered as a hard worker who served who he was working for. I worked hard in the Governors Office, but I think we were fair. Ive had Republican legislators who tell me, I spent more time in your office than I do in the current governors office. Ive got friends on both sides. Some would say more friends on the Republican side now. But I would like to be remembered as somebody who worked hard and who was fair.
SHORT: So you think you dont deserve the comment that some writer said aboutyou, that Bobby Kahn knows only two classes of people: Democrats and the rest of the world?
KAHN: Well, thats not a bad way to look at the world. But like I01:31:00said--theres one legislator, a Republican, whos just an absolute nutcase. Im not going to say his name. But he was shocked because he came into the Governors Office and wanting an admiral in the Georgia Navy. And I said, Sure. And he went around telling people, I got the admiral of the Georgia Navy. I cant believe he did it. Oh, yes, hes a legislator. Part of it is he just wanted to ask.
SHORT: Well, thats true. Well, Bobby, thank you so much for being with us.Weve certainly enjoyed the conversation.
KAHN: Enjoyed it.
SHORT: And well give you a final opportunity to say anything youd like tosay about your career or your experience.
KAHN: Well, Ive had some extraordinary opportunities, whether at the partywhich was probably my favorite job, executive director of the party. I was 01:32:00young, energetic and really loved politics. I still do. But that was my first real shot. But that and the convention, which I never thought Id have an opportunity to be a part of. Then working with Governor Barnes and the administration of the things we did. Ive enjoyed it. I like telling my kids about it. They enjoyed it. Doing stuff like this makes me remember it, and Ive enjoyed doing that as well.
SHORT: Well, thank you very much.KAHN: Sure.