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Interview with Tom Crawford, August 29, 2017

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:30 - Early life / Evolution of political journalism in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: Go ahead and tell us a little about yourself.

Segment Synopsis: Crawford summarizes his career in political journalism, starting by working as the reporter on the Georgia General Assembly for the Marietta Daily Journal in 1974, up to starting his own online media outlet, the Georgia Report.

Keywords: 1974 elections; Atlanta Constitution; Atlanta Journal; Macon TelegraphSelby McCash; Atlanta, Georgia; Bill Shipp; Bo Callaway; David Norton; Georgia legislature; Grady College of Journalism; Hal Suit; Jimmy Carter; Lester Maddox; Reg Murphy; Ronnie Thompson; Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives; Tom Murphy; University of Georgia; Watergate; conservatism; governor; lieutenant governor; one-state party; online journalism; print journalism; public relations; speech writing

00:07:51 - 1982 gubernatorial race / Democrat control in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: What are some of your earliest political memories?

Segment Synopsis: Crawford describes the heated gubernatorial race in 1982, particularly the primary race between Joe Frank Harris and Bo Ginn. Crawford then explains why he believes Democrats were able to maintain control of Georgia well past the 1960s and 1970s.

Keywords: "Southern Gothic election"; Barbara Morgan; Charlie Hazel; Jimmy Carter; Kil Townsend; Lester Maddox; Metro Atlanta; Mike Egan; Paul Coverdell; Tom Daniel; Tom Purdue; Tommy Lewis; barbecues; conservatism; gerrymandering; national Democratic Party; party infighting; press secretary; redistricting; split-ticket voting

00:14:09 - Republican rise in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: So how were the Republicans able to overcome that sort of cultural inertia, the political inertia, of the Georgia Democratic Party?

Segment Synopsis: Crawford says that the emergence of the Republican Party in Georgia was due to their grabbing the white vote in Georgia, though he warns that this strategy cannot be permanent if the Republicans wish to survive.He notes that the Republicans were able to capitalize on the Democratic split between the "Lester Maddox" side and the "Jimmy Carter" side in the 1970s.

Keywords: 2016 presidential election; Jimmy Carter; Lester Maddox; demographic shifts; factions; political polarization; purple state; racial polarization; young people

00:19:03 - Purple districts and demographic shifts

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Partial Transcript: The backlash to President Trump in the Sixth District.

Segment Synopsis: Crawford discusses the implications that the demographic shifts in Georgia toward a minority-majority state will have for Georgia's Republicans. He points toward the 6th Congressional district as an example, observing that Jon Ossoff came close to winning 50% of the vote despite the district originally being drawn to be 30% Democratic.

Keywords: 2017 Georgia Sixth Congressional District special election; Clayton County, Georgia; DeKalb County, Georgia; Fayette County, Georgia; Georgia Seventh Congressional District; Gwinett County, Georgia; Henry County, Georgia; Jon Ossoff; Karen Handel; Metro Atlanta area; Rob Woodall; U.S. Attorney's Office; corruption; racial differences; redistricting; suburbs

00:23:45 - Goals and leaders of the Republican Party

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Partial Transcript: So we are talking about the Republicans firmly in control of state government.

Segment Synopsis: Crawford lists the goals of Georgia Republicans since their assumption of the majority in state government, including elimination of the state income tax, religious liberty, and campus carry. He then ponders how and why some of the Republican leaders have helped or hindered those goals.

Keywords: Baker v. Carr; Who Runs Georgia?; Calvin Kytle; Christian right; David Ralston; Donald Trump; Georgia Power; Jack Hill; James Mackay; Jim Gallaway; Nathan Deal; Terry England; business issues; county unit system; party leadership; social issues; state income tax

00:29:41 - Rural Georgia

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Partial Transcript: Back in the 1980s the big controversy was "the two Georgias".

Segment Synopsis: Crawford considers some of the problems facing rural Georgia, such as the flight of jobs and young workers from rural areas and into Atlanta. He emphasizes the failing hospitals and healthcare system, and contemplates how the Republicans may be willing to fix it.

Keywords: Affordable Care Act; Arizona; Chris Christie; Department of Health and Human Services; Jan Brewer; Medicaid expansion; Metro Atlanta; New Jersey; Obamacare; Ralph Hudgens; Tom Price; cities; indigent care; insurance commissioner; rural hospitals; suburbs

00:33:13 - 2018 electoral predictions

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so in 2018, we have an election coming up.

Segment Synopsis: Crawford weights each of the declared candidates for the Republican primary in the 2018 gubernatorial race, predicting that the race will ultimately fall between Casey Cagle and Brian Kemp. He then does the same between the two Democratic nominees, Stacey Evans and Stacey Abrams, though still expecting an ultimate Republican victory.

Keywords: Hunter Hill; Michael Williams; Stacey Abrams; Stacey Evans; business community; demographic shifts; government establishment; minority appeal; minority vote; moderate; policy; white vote; working class vote

00:37:58 - Politics in the Georgia General Assembly

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Partial Transcript: So let's switch gears and look at the Georgia legislature.

Segment Synopsis: Crawford explains how the parties in the General Assembly often cooperate to pass key legislation, only holding heated differences on a few select topics. Crawford then considers the power of the Speaker of the House, claiming that the Speaker's power in Georgia is second only to the governor.

Keywords: Atlanta traffic; David Ralston; Georgia Constitution; Lester Maddox; Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives; Tom Murphy; bipartisanship; budgeting; committee chairs; gun control; housecleaning legislation; pro-business; pro-growth; public transit; racial issues; religious liberty; social issues; transportation; voter registration

00:42:28 - Qualities of successful politicians / Entitlements

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Partial Transcript: What sort of attributes, outlook, demeanor, makes for a successful politician?

Segment Synopsis: Crawford describes the traits he has observed that lead to successful politicians, comparing the personality of a politician to that of a fraternity member. Crawford then elaborates on entitlements, which he sees as permanent fixtures in politics once they are passed and implemented.

Keywords: George W. bush; HOPE Scholarship; Henry Grady Hotel; Johnny Isakson; Medicare; Paul Coverdell; Saxby Chambliss; Social Security; Stacey Evans; Zell Miller; amicability; entitlement programs; government programs; moderate

00:48:32 - 2002 election and Republican takeover of Georgia

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Partial Transcript: You started the Georgia Report 18 years ago?

Segment Synopsis: Crawford analyzes the 2002 election, in which Republicans obtained a Senate seat and the governorship. He credits the victory to strong leadership from the Republicans on both the state and national level, as well as Max Cleland's poor campaigning.

Keywords: Bill Burn; Bob Irvin; George W. Bush; Georgia state senate; Linda Schrenko; Republican primary races; Roy Barnes; Sam Nunn; Saxby Chambliss; Senate race; Sonny Purdue; attack ads; education reform; first term; governor's race; moderate Democrat; party flips; realignment; state flag; state school superintendent

00:55:02 - Republican primary races in 2010 and 2014

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Partial Transcript: Saxby Chambliss retired in 2014, correct?

Segment Synopsis: Crawford remembers the hotly-contested Republican primary for the Senate in 2014, saying that David Purdue's position as a candidate outside the political establishment gave him the edge needed for victory. Crawford also recalls the 2010 gubernatorial primary, describing the different circumstances that contributed to Nathan Deal's rise from a long-shot candidate to become Georgia's governor.

Keywords: 2010 gubernatorial race; 2014 U.S. Senate race; Brian Robinson; Eric Johnson; Jack Kingston; Jeff Chapman; John Oxendine; Karen Handel; Paul Broun, Jr.; Phil Gingree; Republican establishment; Sarah Palin; endorsement; ethics violations; female candidates; financial problems; insurance commissioner; opposition research; runoff election

01:00:44 - Future leaders in Georgia politics

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Partial Transcript: Now at the time we're talking- 2017- the Republican Party in Georgia has been in charge of the Governor's Mansion for 14, going on 15, years, the legislature for a dozen or so years.

Segment Synopsis: Crawford lists who he believes to be the future leaders of both the Democratic and Republican Parties in Georgia. Crawford then states how he believes Democrats may challenge the Republican majority in the future.

Keywords: 2009 Atlanta mayoral race; 2017 Atlanta mayoral race; Austin Scott; Barry Loudermilk; Buckhead, Georgia; Buddy Carter; Doug Collins; Gary Black; Jody Hice; Kasim Reed; Mary Norwood; Rick Allen; Sam Massell; Stacey Abrams; Stacey Evans; Tom Graves; conservatives; demographic shifts; gerrymandering; moderates; one-party state; runoff election; statewide elected offices; two-party state