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Interview with Chuck Clay, December 16, 2009

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:53 - Clay's legislative initiatives

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Partial Transcript: Now we’d like to talk about some of the things that you remember and are proud of during your, what? 10 years, 12 years…

Segment Synopsis: Clay talks about his experience as a legislator in the Republican minority of Georgia's State Senate. He explains how he identified other influential legislators who could promote his interests and how he chose niche policy issues to trailblaze. Clay mentions toughening DUI standards, imposing additional penalties for spousal abuse that occurs in front of children, expanding environmental protections, and creating an indigent defense program.

Keywords: DUI; Johnny Isakson; Metropolitan River Protection Act; Paul Coverdell; criminal law; defense; domestic violence; environment

00:08:56 - Building Georgia's Republican Party / Appealing to moderate voters

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Partial Transcript: Then you decided to run for lieutenant governor just at a point when the Republican Party was really picking up steam in the state of Georgia.

Segment Synopsis: Clay mentions important Republican figures in 1980s Georgia and talks about the challenges associated with being Senate Minority Leader. Clay explains the dangers of party purism, saying that elections are typically decided by centrist voters.

Keywords: Senate; center; ideology; independent voters; left; majority; minority; moderates; right

00:17:41 - Reinventing the Republican Party

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Partial Transcript: There was a time when people thought that the Republican Party was not inclusive.

Segment Synopsis: Clay discusses the roles of Barry Goldwater and Guy Millner in changing the image of Georgia's Republican Party. He talks about the Republican base in Atlanta's suburban "donut" and about appealing to diverse groups of voters. Clay shares that the secret to candidates' political success is showing that they can relate to their constituents' problems.

Keywords: Atlanta; Buckhead; Republican party; demographics; rural; urban; voter base

00:22:26 - Lucius Clay and Bell Bomber

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned Lockheed, and I’m glad you did because I don’t think in our last conversation we fully covered the role of your family in Lockheed/Bell Bomber and Lockheed and Dobbins Air Force Base.

Segment Synopsis: Clay talks about his grandfather's role in establishing Rickenbacker Field and growing the Bell Bomber factory, which made B-29s for the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. Further, Clay discusses the economic impact the Bell Bomber plant had on Marietta, Georgia.

Keywords: Army; Bell Bomber; Dobbins Air Force Base; Lockheed; Lucius Clay; Rickenbacker Field; WWII; military

00:26:25 - Insider Advantage / Republican fundamentals

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned Matt Towery. Matt’s been a guest on our program.

Segment Synopsis: Clay talks about Insider Advantage, a news and polling business he heads with Matt Towery. He also explains that political parties must compromise and appeal to moderate voters in order to win elections and pass policies. In addition, Clay discusses the benefits of divided government and the demographic challenges facing the Republican Party.

Keywords: Democrat; Democratic Party; James Magazine; Republican; business; investment

00:37:01 - Iraq and the War on Terror / George W. Bush

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Partial Transcript: Was it a mistake to go to Iraq?

Segment Synopsis: Clay ponders the success of the Iraq War and the War on Terror. He also comments on the legacy of Harry Truman and predicts how George W. Bush may be remembered for his tax cuts and intervention in Iraq.

Keywords: Afghanistan; Pakistan; foreign policy; taxes; terrorism; war

00:44:53 - Rising Republican leaders

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Partial Transcript: Shining stars?

Segment Synopsis: Clay mentions some of the up-and-coming leaders of the Republican Party and comments on the public's perception of Congress. He states that government is now attracting more career politicians and single-issue candidates as opposed to moderate candidates who truly represent their districts' citizens.

Keywords: careers; leadership; legislature; moderates; polarization; politicians; representation

00:53:20 - Politicization of reapportionment

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Partial Transcript: Chuck, I don’t want to open the can of worms, but I’d like to get your thoughts on the subject of reapportionment, since we’re required to do it every ten years.

Segment Synopsis: Clay talks about politicians' interest in gerrymandering districts, but comments that Culver Kidd's reapportionment committee was relatively fair to parties and community interests in the early '90s. He says that since then, Republican legislators have been stacking districts with minority voters to reduce the number of Democratic districts. Clay also explains the difficulty that this system imposes upon moderate and conservative Democratic representatives to getting elected.

Keywords: Cobb; Gwinnett; Tom Phillips; black max plan; cracking; gerrymander; party id; polarization; redistricting; representation

01:00:06 - Reflections on Clay's impact

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Partial Transcript: Let’s get back to Chuck Clay now.

Segment Synopsis: Clay talks about his children and the impact he hopes his public service will have on their futures and worldviews.

Keywords: family; impact; kids; legacy