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Interview with Frank Barron, August 22, 2017

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:33 - Early life and business endeavors

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Partial Transcript: If you would, go ahead and give everybody the thirty second, one minute biography of Mr. Frank Barron.

Segment Synopsis: Barron briefly summarizes his life, mentioning his education and military service. He then describes continuing his family's tradition of running Coca-Cola bottling plants, while also touching upon the economy of northwestern Georgia as a whole.

Keywords: Calhoun, Georgia; Chadsworth, Georgia; Chamber of Commerce; Dalton, Georgia; Floyd County, Georgia; Frank Barron III; Frank Smith Barron; Interstate 75; Korean War; Lexington, Virginia; Northern Ireland; Peacock Alley; Rebecca Barron; Rome, Georgia; Rotary Club; Seventh Congressional District; Summerville, Georgia; United States Navy; Valdosta, Georgia; Washington and Lee University; cotton mills; dirt farmer; farming; foundry; grocery store

00:07:33 - Republican presence in northwest Georgia

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Partial Transcript: So, your family, as Coca-Cola bottlers- you've referenced Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, which was a businessman's group- tell us what politics meant to the somebody like you in the position that you held, as a Coca-Cola bottler in northwest Georgia.

Segment Synopsis: Barron explains how his family became interested in politics, namely in insuring the economic growth of their areas of Georgia. Barron also details his relationships with the key Republicans who came out of northwest Georgia.

Keywords: Barry Wright; Bo Callaway; Graham Wright; Harold Clotfelter; Ralph Ivy; University of Georgia; Wendell Wilkie; Wilson M. Hardy; community growth; culture; economic policy; industrial growth; party distinctions

00:16:22 - Political affiliations

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Partial Transcript: So you mentioned your father, Willie Barron, was a staunch Democrat.

Segment Synopsis: Barron elaborates on his family's history as it came to politics, saying his position has been based less on party loyalty and more on the policies favored by the parties. Barron also remembers his relationships with Senators Walton George and Richard B. Russell.

Keywords: Civil War; Commerce, Georgia; Lamartine Hardman; Social Security; World War I; business community; excess spending; independent voter; moral duty; national debt; party realignment; profit-sharing plan; retirement; yellow dog Democrats

00:26:25 - Marvin Griffin, Ernest Vandiver, and Carl Sanders

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Partial Transcript: So let's talk about some of the individuals.

Segment Synopsis: Barron evaluates the governorships of Marvin Griffin, Ernest Vandiver, and Carl Sanders, specifying how he thinks they each hurt or helped the business community in Georgia.

Keywords: Darlington School; Rome, Georgia; Rotary Club; University System of Georgia; corruption; crown tax; junior colleges; massive resistance; segregation; transparency

00:33:49 - Lester Maddox and the 1966 gubernatorial election

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Partial Transcript: So you had an outlier in Governor Lester Maddox.

Segment Synopsis: Barron relates why he and other businessmen in Georgia opted to support Republican Bo Callaway in the 1966 race for the governorship over the Democratic nominee, Lester Maddox. Barron then reveals the irony in that Maddox, the ultimate winner, was incredibly beneficial for business in Georgia, as Maddox ran a small business himself.

Keywords: Coca-Cola; Ovid Davis; Pickrick Restaurant; axe handle; lobbying

00:37:53 - Jimmy Carter and George Busbee

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Partial Transcript: Well, to segue from Mr. Ovid Davis into the conversation we were having, there was a letter of Mr. Davis' to Mr. Woodruff.

Segment Synopsis: Barron describes where he stood in the 1970 race between Carl Sanders and Jimmy Carter for the Democratic nomination for governor. Barron then talks about how Carter and Busbee changed the scope of the governorship into a more managerial position.

Keywords: Jimmy Carter Presidential Library; Joe Adams; John Adams

00:44:23 - Economic development in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: There was a book written back in the 1940s called Who Runs Georgia.

Segment Synopsis: Barron addresses claims that big business holds control of politics in Georgia, saying that such claims used to be true, but are no longer valid. He then explains how Georgia's success today is largely due to the economic development of the state, particularly in Atlanta.

Keywords: Calvin Kytle; Democratic Party; Harley Branch; Hartsfield-Jackson Airport; Interstate highway system; James Mackay; Jimmy Robertson; Joe Frank Harris; President of Georgia Chamber of Commerce; Stacey Evans; Tom Murphy; highways; party-line voting; prison reform

00:53:52 - Tom Murphy and Joe Frank Harris

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Partial Transcript: You talked about Speaker Murphy, how you couldn't really get to the right sometimes of Speaker Murphy on issues.

Segment Synopsis: Barron elaborates on Joe Frank Harris's success as governor, attributing some of that success to Georgia House Speaker Tom Murphy, who Barron says skillfully led and managed the General Assembly. Barron then praises Zell Miller for his work as as lieutenant governor and governor, retelling an anecdote about how he planned to convince Miller to run for a second term as governor.

Keywords: Carrollton, Georgia; Cartersville, Georgia; Doug Bernard; Elizabeth Harris; Georgia Dome; Marty Pingree; North Georgia; Savannah, Georgia; Valdosta, Georgia; Young Harris College; conservative; infrastructure in Atlanta; public speaking; transparency

01:00:55 - Shift to Democratic Party minority in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: So how does the Democratic Party in Georgia go from the generations before -- Jimmy Carter, George Busbee, Joe Frank Harris, Zell Miller -- to winning 20-21% of the white vote to perennially 45-46% of the popular vote?

Segment Synopsis: Barron lists what he believes to be the key factors as to why Democrats lost political control in Georgia, which he credits to the integration debate and Roy Barnes's pro-union position.

Keywords: 2002 gubernatorial race; Sonny Purdue; State Chamber of Commerce; dirt farmers; education; interstate migration; labor unions; race; slavery

01:08:11 - Partisan politics in Georgia today

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned that it was a shock to you that Sonny Purdue was able to beat Roy Barnes, who had the support of political and business establishments.

Segment Synopsis: Barron talks about what he believes to be the biggest threat to the Republican and Democratic Parties in Georgia- excessive partisanship that pushes the parties too far from the political center. He claims that if this were to happen to either party, a third party focused on the centrist, independent voters would come in and usurp control from the incumbent party.

Keywords: Democrat control; George Wallace; George Washington; Ross Perot; Rotary Club; Thomas Jefferson; Tom Graves; business expansion; conservatism; demographic shifts; infighting within parties; minority-majority state; political parties; rural areas

01:14:33 - Economic future of Georgia

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Partial Transcript: But when you start talking about where is Georgia going to be fifteen or eighteen years from now, I think Georgia has done some of the smartest things any state has done.

Segment Synopsis: Barron discusses the economic future of Georgia, which he sees as increasingly bright, thanks to systems like the Georgia Research Alliance. He considers some of the economic problems he believes Georgia will be able to tackle, like the cost of education and self-driving cars, due to Georgia's pro-business policies.

Keywords: Georgia education system; Interstate system; State Board of Education; University of Georgia; driverless cars; highway system; human talent; illiteracy; imminent scholars; public school graduation rate; scientific research