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Interview with Eric Tanenblatt, August 15, 2017

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:26 - Introduction to politics in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: So why don't you, as a way of getting started, tell us a little about your background, how you happened to become a Georgia resident, and Georgia political operator.

Segment Synopsis: Tanenblatt talks about how he became interested in politics, emphasizing Paul Coverdell's role in linking him with the Georgia Republican Party. He also mentions some of the political jobs he has held outside of the party.

Keywords: 1988 Presidential election; 2000 Presidential election; Atlanta, Georgia; Denton's; Department of Health and Human Services; Emory University; George Bush, Jr.; George Bush, Sr.; Long Island, New York; Louis Sullivan; Peace Corps; Republican National Convention; public relations firm; state director

00:04:48 - 1988 Presidential primary

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Partial Transcript: If you could, just take us back to 1988, to that contentious fight for the presidential nomination.

Segment Synopsis: Tanenblatt details the infighting in the Republican Party at the national convention in 1988. He focuses on Pat Robertson's role in bringing in a previously apolitical group into the political discussion.

Keywords: Albany, Georgia; Bob Bell; Bob Dole; Brant Frost; Carl Gillis; Carolyn Meadows; Dot Burns; Fred Cooper; Jack Kemp; John Linder; John Stackey; Mack Mattingly; Marguerite Williams; New Orleans, Louisiana; Newt Gingrich; Oscar Persons; Paul Coverdell; Pete du Pont; Rusty Paul; State Party Credentials Committee; Tony Campbell; assimilation; county chairs; county conventions; delegates; grassroots; state conventions

00:11:38 - Bringing in the Christian Right

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Partial Transcript: So you mentioned the- we'll call them the Christian Right or Pat Robertson supporters- coming into the Party in 1987 and 1988.

Segment Synopsis: Tanenblatt discusses Alec Poitevint's role as the state party chairman in permanently bringing in Pat Robertson supporters into the Republican Party. Tanenblatt then ponders the impact of the Robertson supporters on the 1992 senatorial race in Georgia.

Keywords: Bob Barr; Charlie Tanksley; Christian Coalition; Jack Kingston; John Knox; John Linder; Mack Collins; Paul Coverdell; Ralph Reed; Wyche Fowler

00:15:38 - 1992 Senate primary / Increasing Republican power

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned the Republican primary back in 1992.

Segment Synopsis: Tanenblatt elaborates on the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat in 1992, considering the strengths and weaknesses of Paul Coverdell, the eventual victor, in the race. Tanenblatt then explains what he believes to have caused the growth of the Republican Party in Georgia in the 1990s, namely a backlash against both the national and state Democratic Parties.

Keywords: 1990 Georgia gubernatorial race; Bob Barr; Bobby Wood; Charlie Norwood; Guy Milner; John Knox; Johnny Isakson; Mack Mattingly; Mike Bowers; Roy Barnes; Sam Nunn; Saxby Chambliss; Sonny Purdue; demographic shifts; federal funding for abortion; fundraising; primary runoff; pro-life movement

00:24:16 - Effects of Trump presidency on Republican Party / Jon Ossoff

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Partial Transcript: You mention demographics.

Segment Synopsis: Tanenblatt considers the effects of Donald Trump's presidency on the Republican Party, which he believes to be overall positive. Tanenblatt then likens Jon Ossoff's special election race for the vacant Congressional seat to Paul Coverdell's race for U.S. Senate in 1992.

Keywords: 1992 senate race; 2017 Georgia 6th Congressional district special election; Bill Clinton; Hillary Clinton; Jason Carter; Jimmy Carter; Michelle Nunn; Roy Barnes; demographic changes; general election runoff; gerrymandering; gridlock; growth in suburbs; migration; money; partisanship

00:36:34 - Sonny Purdue and grassroots campaigning

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Partial Transcript: So we're talking about, you know, changing demographics, changing constituents.

Segment Synopsis: Tanenblatt uses Sonny Purdue's victory for the Georgia governorship in 2002 as a prime example of grassroots campaigning triumphing over raising money. Tanenblatt also answers why he thinks Democrats were able to hold state and local offices into the 2000s despite the increasing Republican pressure in the state.

Keywords: Alec Poitevint; Bill Burn; Fred Cooper; Joe Roger; Linda Shrenko; Max Cleland; Oscar Persons; Paul Coverdell; Roy Barnes; Senate president pro tempore; Zell Miller; business community; conservative Democrats; governorship; local elections; redistricting; switching parties

00:44:26 - Saxby Chambliss U.S. Senate race

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Partial Transcript: In 2002, we also have Saxby Chambliss running for Senate.

Segment Synopsis: Tanenblatt tells of Saxby Chambliss's capture of the U.S. Senate seat from Max Cleland in 2002, noting how he believes Sonny Purdue's run for governor helped mobilize resources to the Republican side, and thus helping Chambliss.

Keywords: Bill Burn; Bob Irvin; George W. Bush; Georgia Secretary of State; Karl Rove; Ken Mehlman; Linda Shrenko; Roy Barnes; changing the state flag; minority leader; state senator; suburbs; teacher tenure

00:50:33 - Republican Party ideals

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Partial Transcript: So now we've got this case where we've talked about demographics.

Segment Synopsis: Tanenblatt describes what he considers the ideals that the Republican Party strives for. Tanenblatt also lists how he believes incumbent Republicans have helped and hindered these goals.

Keywords: "good ol' boy" system; Nathan Deal; Sonny Purdue; accountability; broadening base; budget reserves; changing demographics; customer service; department heads; limited government; small government; tort reform; trial lawyers

00:56:38 - Predictions of 2018 gubernatorial race

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Partial Transcript: So, since we are already looking ahead, and election seasons starts earlier and earlier every year, there's going to be a governor's race in 2018.

Segment Synopsis: Tanenblatt gives his predictions about the 2018 gubernatorial race, weighing who he thinks will win the nomination for each party and what issues will be the deciding factors in the general election.

Keywords: African-American community; Brian Kemp; Casey Cagle; Hunter Hill; Michael Williams; Republican primary; Stacey Abrams; Stacey Evans; lieutenant governor; religious liberty; secretary of state; social media

01:04:43 - Religious freedom / Transportation

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Partial Transcript: So the religious freedom, religious liberty issue, what divides Republicans on that?

Segment Synopsis: Tanenblatt explains how the push for "religious liberty" could adversely affect the Georgia Republican Party as well as the Georgia economy because it has the public appearance of being discriminatory. Tanenblatt then talks about the transportation issues facing Georgia, particularly how Georgia will account for the burgeoning self-driving car industry.

Keywords: Savannah port; Volvo; alternative modes of transportation; automatic vehicles; bipartisan support; business community; civil rights protection; economic development; electric vehicle tax credit; film industry; gas tax; interest groups; legislation; tourism

01:13:44 - Best qualities of a candidate

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Partial Transcript: Switching gears.

Segment Synopsis: Tanenblatt considers how the Millennial generation may shape Georgia politics, which he believes may be in a way that benefits Republicans. Tanenblatt closes by stating what he sees as the qualities of a candidate that helps him or her get elected in Georgia.

Keywords: Jay Morgan; Joe Frank Harris; Johnny Isakson; Nathan Deal; Paul Coverdell; Roy Barnes; Sam Nunn; Saxby Chambliss; Sonny Purdue; Tom Hockaday; controversy; diversity; fiscal responsibility; non-confrontational; packing districts; redistricting; social libertarians; state legislature races; urban-rural divide