UGA Libraries Logo

Interview with Billy Lovett, November 7, 2012

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Index
00:00:25 - Introduction

Play segment

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 Billy Lovett.

00:00:54 - Family history / Early business and political work

Play segment

Partial Transcript: The Lovett family is well-known in Georgia's political, publishing, and business circles--let's talk a little bit about the family.

Segment Synopsis: Lovett speaks about his family's personal and political history, discussing his grandfather--a longtime politician--specifically, and describes how he came to enter politics by serving on the Lawrence County Commission.

Keywords: Agriculture; Atlanta City Council; Bank; Boarding house; Businessman; Campaigning; Carl Vincent; Chamber of Commerce; Cotton gin; Dublin, Georgia; Economic development; Famous Georgians; Farmer; Fertilizer; Georgia Senate; Georgia State House; Great depression; Hardware company; Herman Talmadge; Icons; Industrial development; Infrastructure; Newspaper; Political literature; Politicians; Politics; Richard Russell; Voting machine; Voting machines

00:04:11 - Work on the Lawrence County Commission

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Along the way, Bob, counties in that time--and they may still do it today--have an emergency fund...

Segment Synopsis: Lovett describes some of the accomplishments of the commission during his service, particularly energy projects.

Keywords: African-Americans; Alternative energy; Biofuel; Conservation; Consumer-focused; Emergency funds; Energy efficiency; Energy plan; Georgia Power; Good old boy; Leadership Georgia; Public service commission; Rubber stamp; Solar power; Wind power

00:07:30 - Utilities regulation and deregulation / Energy efficiency

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Let's talk for a minute, Billy, about the duties of the Public Service Commission.

Segment Synopsis: Lovett describes how the Public Service Commission sets rates and regulations for utilities and transportation providers, and opines that rather than building new power plants, Georgians should prioritize making their homes energy efficient.

Keywords: Air conditioning; Bondholders; Checks and balances; Coal; Competition; Consultants; Deregulation; Electricity; Energy inefficiency; Energy regulation; Energy resources; Enforcement; Foam insulation; Furnace; Georgia Power; Incentives; Infrastructure; Monopoly; Municipal electric authority; Natural gas; Nuclear plants; Nuclear power; Operating expenses; Prepayment; Price gouging; ROI; Railroads; Rate base; Rate increase; Regulatory authority; Return on investment; Savannah Electric; Shareholder; State government; Telephones; Transportation; Trucking company; Utility structure

00:12:51 - Run for governor / Return to commission

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, in 1982, you became a democratic candidate for governor.

Segment Synopsis: Lovett explains that he ran for governor primarily to campaign for energy issues in the state and speaks about his re-election to the commission following his defeat, despite Tom Murphy's call for Lovett to resign.

Keywords: Agricultural base; Bipartisan; Budget; Economy; Elected office; Gubernatorial race; Jimmy Carter; Nashville Judicial College; Non-profit; Oil embargo; Political appointment; Political strategy; Southern Regulatory Policy Institute; Speaker of the House; Tom Murphy; White paper

00:18:19 - Switching to the Republican party / Rise of the Republican Party

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Well, in 1986, you became a Republican.

Segment Synopsis: Lovett states that he switched parties after a meeting with Ronald Reagan, tells of his eventual appointment to chairman of the Georgia Republican party, and discusses the emergence of the Republican party in the state.

Keywords: Attorney General; Campaign manager; Congressmen; Fundraising; Guy Millner; John Linder; John Oxendine; Johnny Isakson; Linda Schrenko; Mike Bowers; Newt Gingrich; Paul Coverdell; Press conference; Ronald Reagan; State insurance commissioner; White House; Zell Miller

00:24:50 - Reception of former Democrats to the Republican party

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I want to ask you this: after you decide to became a Republican after being a Democrat, how were you accepted by the old-line Republicans in Georgia?

Segment Synopsis: Lovett describes the ready acceptance of former Democrats to the Republican party, and suggests that party-switchers greatly contributed to the emergence of the party in Georgia.

Keywords: Competition; Controversy; Debates; Education; Gifting; Governmental oversight; Lobbying; Lobbyists; One-party state; Progress; Republican leadership; Supermajority; Voters; Winston Churchill

00:29:54 - The future of the Republican party in Georgia

Play segment

Partial Transcript: We heard back in 1993 that the Republican party was courting you to run for governor against the incumbent Zell Miller.

Segment Synopsis: Lovett tells of turning down a second chance to run for governor and suggests that the Republican party must maintain strong leadership and show evidence of real progress to maintain power in the state.

Keywords: Gubernatorial run; Party leadership; Political cycles; Political forecast

00:31:34 - Consumer advocacy on the Public Service Commission

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Let's get back to Billy Lovett, the public service commissioner.

Segment Synopsis: Lovett describes the resistance he faced on the commission advocating for customers rather than for the utility companies.

Keywords: Achievement; Advisors; Consumer affairs; Politics; Public affairs; Regulatory balance; Staff; State utility council; Transparency

00:35:02 - Life after retirement from politics

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Let's talk about Billy Lovett after politics.

Segment Synopsis: Lovett describes his business pursuits after leaving politics and indicates that he does not intend to return to politics, citing the personal and professional sacrifices necessary to be an effective public servant.

Keywords: Banking; Businessman; Debt restructuring; Distressed debt; Entrepreneur; Entrepreneurship; Equity raising; Financial adviser; Healthcare; Political arena; Political race; Real estate; Sam Olens; Senior living

00:38:50 - Career highlights / The Lovett Law

Play segment

Partial Transcript: If you look back over your career, is there anything you would have done differently?

Segment Synopsis: Lovett expresses his pride at having served as a consumer advocate and discusses an eponymous law that the Georgia House passed forbidding individuals from simultaneously holding and running for public office.

Keywords: Abuse of power; Bedrock; Criticism; Higher office; Media; Political influence; Resignation; The Lovett Law

00:42:13 - Lovett's grandfather Herschel Lovett

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I would like to, uh, to talk a minute about Herschel Lovett.

Segment Synopsis: Lovett describes the character and career of his grandfather, a longtime Georgia legislator.

Keywords: AAA baseball; Ball boy; Bottle deposit; Capitol; Cattle; Concessions; Cows; Dublin Green Sox; Dublin Orioles; Dublin, Georgia; Earl Weaver; Farm equipment; Henry Grady Hotel; Honesty; Legislature; Lovett Park; Recycling; Soda bottles; Spendthrift; Stadium; Sunday lunch; Tractors; Work ethic

00:47:46 - Conclusion

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Well Billy, it's been nice talking to you.

Segment Synopsis: Short and Lovett conclude the interview.