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Interview with Rusty Paul, October 27, 2010

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:19 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: I'm Bob Short and this is Reflections on Georgia Politics, sponsored by the Richard B. Russell Library at the University of Georgia and Young Harris College.

Segment Synopsis: Interviewer Bob Short introduces interviewee Rusty Paul.

00:00:53 - Overview of Sandy Springs

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Partial Transcript: The new city--tell us about that.

Segment Synopsis: Paul briefly describes how the new city of Sandy Springs came to be after many years of fighting for annexation.

Keywords: Eva Galambos; Golden Ghetto; Mayor; Metropolitan Atlanta; Republican party; Sandy Springs, Georgia

00:02:05 - Early life / Introduction to politics

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Partial Transcript: Well, Rusty, with your permission, we'd like to talk to you about your early life.

Segment Synopsis: Paul describes his upbringing in Alabama and how witnessing the civil rights struggle in Birmingham piqued his interest in politics.

Keywords: 16th Street Church bombing; Alice Dawes; Atlanta, Georgia; Birmingham Post-Herald; Birmingham, Alabama; Bluegrass music; Bull Connor; Carl Sanders; Chris Dawes; Chris McNair; Civil Rights Movement; Coal; Country music; Denise McNair; Filibuster; Freedom Riders; George Wallace; Integration; Iron Ore; Ivan Allen Jr.; Jim Folsom; Limestone; Lurleen Wallace; Magic City; Oneonta, Alabama; Photographer; Rural Alabama; Ryan DeGraffenried Sr.; Segregation; Steel

00:09:42 - First run for public office

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Partial Transcript: The...I attended church in the...I rented an apartment when I came to Atlanta, my wife and I...

Segment Synopsis: Paul recalls his first run for a seat on the Stone Mountain city council and admits that not having to declare his Republican affiliation in the non-partisan election was beneficial to his campaign.

Keywords: Avondale; Ballot counter; City council; DeKalb County Commission; Democrat; Francis "Fran" Tarkenton; Grassroots organizing; Jane Rhodes; Jim Kelly; Journalism; Local elections; Non-partisan election; Phillip Ashe; Political affiliation; Press releases; Randolph Medlock; Republican; Stone Mountain, Georgia; World War II veteran

00:15:46 - Participation in national campaigns

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Partial Transcript: The guy that I worked in his campaign, Jim Armstrong, was an insurance agent, and he lost...

Segment Synopsis: Paul discusses some of the presidential campaigns with which he's been involved and how national campaigns differ from local or state campaigns.

Keywords: California; Department of Housing and Urban Development; Ego; HUD; Iowa; Jack Kemp; NFL; National Football League; National presidential campaign; New Hampshire; New York; Press aid; Republican National Convention; Ronald Reagan; Rudolph Giuliani; Steve Forbes

00:20:39 - Heading Georgia's Republican Party

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Partial Transcript: Before you became a State Senator, you were chairman of the Georgia Republican Party.

Segment Synopsis: Paul describes running for the chair position of the Georgia Republican Party and some of the work he did with the state party after his win.

Keywords: "Post office Republicans"; African-Americans; Barry Goldwater; Campaign management; Consulting firm; Dalton, Georgia; Dwight Eisenhower; Elective office; Georgia State University; Marketing; Mentors; Networking; Non-profit postage rate; Political consultant; Political contributions; Political science; Savannah, Georgia; Washington, D.C.; Young Republican

00:29:43 - Growth of the Republican party

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Partial Transcript: Let's for a minute about some of the individuals involved in the rise of the Republican party.

Segment Synopsis: Paul speaks about some of the early Republican leaders in Georgia and the party's attempts to gain traction in the state. He discusses the 1964 elections, which opened the door to Republicans holding public office in Georgia, and the setbacks to the party caused by Watergate and Carter's presidential run.

Keywords: Atlanta Constitution; Ben Blackburn; Ben Blackman; Bo Callaway; Bob Bell; Bob Shaw; Clarkston, Georgia; Columbus, Georgia; Eugene Talmadge; Fletcher Thompson; George Warren; Goldwater campaign; Haskew Brantley; Herb Jones; Jim Tysinger; Jimmy Carter; Libertarian; Mack Mattingly; Mack Patton; Newt Gingrich; Paul Coverdell; Political affiliation; Redistricting; Richard Nixon; Role model; Roy Groves; Rural white conservatives; Southern Strategy; State capitol; Strom Thurmond; Tom Murphy; Tommy Tolbert; Walt Davis; Walt Russell; Watergate scandal; White liberals

00:44:46 - Election to State Senate

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk for a minute about your Senate career.

Segment Synopsis: Paul speaks about his decision to run for State Senate at the suggestion of the departing Sen. Egan, who subsequently endorsed another candidate.

Keywords: Alpharetta, Georgia; Art Morris; Buckhead; Casey Cagle; Edward Lindsay; Eric Johnson; Jim King; John Mitnick; Lawyer; Mark Taylor; Midtown Atlanta; Mike Egan; Roswell, Georgia; Runoff; Sandy Springs, Georgia; Sonny Purdue; Tom Price

00:50:17 - State flag controversy

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Partial Transcript: ...and we had some big issues when I was in the Senate--the flag.

Segment Synopsis: Paul explains his regret over voting against changing the Georgia state flag, a vote he cast for political leverage rather than his personal beliefs.

Keywords: Andrew Young; Annapolis, Maryland; Episcopal; Flag referendum; Georgia state flag; John Lewis; John Watson; Lexington, Kentucky; Minority voters; Tyrone Brooks

00:57:45 - Party-switchers in state politics

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Partial Transcript: Rusty, as the Republican party gains strength in Georgia, there are several Democrats who changed parties.

Segment Synopsis: Paul indicates that there was some reluctance among grassroots Republicans who accept converts from the Democratic party, though he suggests most were welcome and the change was inevitable.

Keywords: Eric Johnson; Grassroots activism; Guy Millner; Gwinnett County, Georgia; Johnny Isakson; Kathy Ashe; Mike Bowers; Mike Cohen; Nathan Deal; Oglethorpe Power; Sonny Purdue; Tucker, Georgia; Zell Miller

01:04:14 - Perdue's gubernatorial triumph

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Partial Transcript: 2002--That was when it all came together.

Segment Synopsis: Paul describes the factors that contributed to the election of Georgia's first Republican governor since 1868.

Keywords: Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Demographics; Garland Pinholster; George W. Bush; Georgia Southern University; Gerrymandering; James Gilmore III; James Salter; Legislative races; Reapportionment; Redistricting; Roy Barnes; Teachers; Ware County, Georgia

01:10:57 - 1980 Senate election

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Partial Transcript: One of the mileposts we missed was 1980, the Mattingly race.

Segment Synopsis: Paul describes 1980, when Mattingly won a Senate seat over Talmadge, as another tipping point for the Republican party in Georgia.

Keywords: Bowdon, Georgia; George Israel; Georgia Municipal Association; Lillian Webb; Macon, Georgia; Norcross, Georgia; Richard Guthman; WSB-Radio

01:14:09 - Future of the Republican party

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Partial Transcript: How long will this last?

Segment Synopsis: While Paul acknowledges that he hopes Republicans continue to win elections in the state, he also expresses hope that two-party politics will prevail and that the state will not become a monopoly under Republicans.

Keywords: Balanced budget; Competition; Corruption; Deficit; Economic incentives; Georgia lottery; HOPE Scholarship; Monopolies; One-party state; Robin Hood; Self-dealing; Tax cuts; Trickle-down economics; Two-party system

01:17:36 - Miller's appointment to the Senate

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned Zell Miller; what was your reaction when he was appointed by Gov. Barnes to replace Sen. Coverdell?

Segment Synopsis: Paul discusses Gov. Barnes' decision to appoint Miller to the Senate seat left by the death of Coverdell.

Keywords: Bill Clinton; Keynote address; Left-wing; Liberal; Maverick; Moderate; Phil Landrem; Spitball speech

01:19:41 - Life after public office

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Partial Transcript: Well, back to Rusty Paul.

Segment Synopsis: Paul indicates that he hasn't ruled out another run for public office but states that family obligations come first and that his drive is not as strong as it was earlier in his life.

Keywords: Candidate; Family; Google; Legacy; Senior statesman; White House

01:23:53 - Transportation and water issues in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: Well, I've noticed you have not lost your interest in issues--transportation.

Segment Synopsis: Paul states that he remains engaged in statewide issues and discusses maximizing efficiency of the roads serving metro Atlanta. Paul opines that the water rights issues facing metro Atlanta are partly due to surrounding states' desire to cripple Atlanta's economic growth.

Keywords: Achilles heel; Chattahoochee River; Construction; Dam; Electoral politics; Environmental issues; Florida; Forsythe County, Georgia; Freeways; Fulton County, Georgia; Geography; Governing politics; Innovation; Interstate system; Northern arc; Ocoee River; Op-ed; Policy; Red tape; Sandy Springs, Georgia; Savannah River; South Carolina; Traffic engineer; Traffic infrastructure; Traffic lights; Ulterior motives; Water access; Water supply; Welfare state; Zoning hearings

01:30:41 - Greatest political accomplishments

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Partial Transcript: You've had a great career.

Segment Synopsis: Paul states that his one of his greatest accomplishments in office was his role in changing the state flag despite initially voting against it, and express pride in helping instigate a change in statewide politics.

Keywords: Battlefields; Civil War; Confederate flag; Idealism; Maggie Holliman; North Georgia; Public service; Realism; Southern culture; Toccoa, Georgia; United Daughters of the Confederacy; Yankees