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Interview with Buddy Darden, August 30, 3017

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:31 - Introduction to politics

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Partial Transcript: How about you tell us where you're from and why does everyone call you "Buddy"?

Segment Synopsis: Darden describes his early life and education. He then talks about how he began working for Senator Richard B. Russell through the aid of his connections in the 4-H Club.

Keywords: Carl Vinson; George Washington University; H. Mell Wells; Hancock County, Georgia; Jasper Dorsey; Jim Wright; John F. Kennedy; John Lewis; Leo Frank; March on Washington; North Georgia College; Rack Eagle Camp; Sparta High School; State of the Union Address; United States Capitol; University of Georgia School of Law; William Darden; patronage employee

00:09:27 - Work for Cobb County

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Partial Transcript: So you relocate and settle in Cobb County.

Segment Synopsis: Darden remembers his start with Cobb County through his employment as Assistant District Attorney for the newly-appointed District Attorney, Ben Smith. He then recalls his brief stint as District Attorney himself, before leaving the political sphere.

Keywords: Bo Callaway; Carl Sanders; Democratic Party; Democratic primary; Ernest Barrett; George Wallace; Jasper Dorsey; Jimmy Carter; John W. Davis; Marietta, Georgia; Republican Party; Richard Nixon; Richard Still; Rome, Georgia; Sam Nunn; local Democrats

00:17:11 - Larry McDonald and running for Congress

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Partial Transcript: That loss didn't scare you away from politics.

Segment Synopsis: Darden tells of what prompted him to return to the political forum- specifically, the sudden death of Larry McDonald creating a vacancy for the Congressional seat in his district. He then talks about the struggles he had in securing the nomination but ultimately getting elected to Congress in the special election.

Keywords: 1980 election; 7th Congressional District; Bartow County, Georgia; Chattooga County, Georgia; Clerk of the Superior Court; Cobb County, Georgia; Dade County, Georgia; Dave Sellers; Ernest Barrett; Georgia House of Representatives; Herman Talmadge; John Birch Society; Kathy McDonald; Mack Mattingly; Ronald Reagan; Tom Murphy; constitutionalism; independent voters; reapportionment; sheriff; state representative

00:26:25 - Equal Rights Amendment

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Partial Transcript: I was conservative on fiscal issues and moderate on social issues.

Segment Synopsis: Darden states where his political positions generally fell while in the legislature. He then highlights how his support for the Equal Rights Amendment ended up not ending his political career, as he expected, but saving it instead.

Keywords: 1984 election; Bill Bronson; Cobb County, Georgia; Johnny Isakson; Kill Townshend; Mike Egan; Paul Coverdell; Republican Party; Roy Barnes; demographics; party split

00:30:13 - 1992 and 1994 elections

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Partial Transcript: So we work our way up into the 90s and Republicans expand their control, or at least strength, in Cobb County.

Segment Synopsis: Darden recalls that while he did not struggle with reelection in 1992, many of his fellow Democratic incumbents did, and lost reelection to Republican challengers. Darden then considers the various factors that cost him reelection in 1994.

Keywords: 1994 election; Appropriations Committee; Bill Clinton; Bob Barr; Brady Bill; Brenda Fitzgerald; Clinton economic plan; Defense Appropriations subcommittee; Federal Assault Weapons Ban; House banking scandal; Jack Kingston; John Linder; Mac Collins; Richard Ray; Tom Murphy; incumbents; redistricting

00:36:58 - 2002 campaign and other political involvements

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Partial Transcript: You go back into law practice, but you try to make a comeback.

Segment Synopsis: Darden describes his attempt to get reelected to the House of Representatives in 2002, only to be defeated in the primaries. He then lists the ways he has continued to involve himself in politics outside of holding office, including being chair of Stacey Evans's campaign for governor in the 2018 election.

Keywords: Ben Blackburn; Bob Barr; Cobb County, Georgia; Cynthia McKinney; DeKalb County, Georgia; Democratic primary; James A. Mackey; John Linder; Nathan Deal; Newt Gingrich; Roger Kahn; Roy Barnes; Sonny Perdue; Stacey Evans; Tom Murphy; demographics; independent voters; messaging; racial minorities; young voters

00:46:20 - Threats to Republicans

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Partial Transcript: The Republicans have all the statewide elected posts, ten of the fourteen Congressmen, two-thirds of the legislature, and the Governor's Mansion.

Segment Synopsis: Darden considers the factors that could damage the Republican brand in Georgia and oust them out of power sooner than they expect. However, he notes that the recent Republican leaders in Georgia have stymied damage due to their relatively moderate positions.

Keywords: Donald Trump; Federal Emergency Management Agency; George Busbee; Houston, Texas; Hurricane Harvey; Joe Frank Harris; Johnny Isakson; Medicaid; Medicare; Nathan Deal; Obamacare repeal; Republican leadership; alt-right; centrist voters; corruption

00:51:23 - Threats to Democrats

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Partial Transcript: What about the Democratic Party--your party?

Segment Synopsis: Darden contemplates possible threats to a reviving Democratic Party in Georgia--namely, racial polarization among the Democratic base. He stresses the hazard that increased racial tensions pose to the Party's electoral future.

Keywords: African-American voters; Barack Obama; John Lewis; issue-based voting; old white voters; racial politics

00:55:48 - Bipartisanship

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Partial Transcript: So we have a very divided electorate--parties divided racially, ethnically--what are the issues that Republicans and Democrats in Georgia, at least, can work together on or seem to be able to agree on?

Segment Synopsis: Darden lists what issues he believes Republicans and Democrats agree upon. He then delves into certain topics which, while having support among both parties, he sees the Republican leadership unable to solve.

Keywords: Wyche Fowler; accountability courts; economic growth and development; factories; healthcare; industry; infrastructure; law enforcement; mandatory sentencing; manufacturing; public education; school choice; transportation; urban-rural divide

01:04:23 - Legacy candidates / 2002 election

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Partial Transcript: I guess we can hop back into electoral politics.

Segment Synopsis: Darden credits Democrats' losses in 2014 and 2016 after running "legacy candidates" was due to their inability to spur high turnout among Democratic voters. He then contemplates what factors impeded Democrat efforts in 2002, ultimately costing them the governorship and a Senate seat.

Keywords: 2014 election; 2016 election; Cobb County, Georgia; Elton Jenkins; Gwinnett County, Georgia; Hamilton Jurden; Hillary Clinton; Jason Carter; Jim McIntyre; Max Cleland; Michelle Nunn; Procter Jones; Roy Barnes; Sam Nunn; Saxby Chambliss; September 11th terrorist attacks; Tommy Malone; Zell Miller; public education; state flag; voter turnout

01:17:08 - 2017 Sixth Congressional District special election

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Partial Transcript: Let's take a look at then-Congressman Chambliss and state senator Purdue.

Segment Synopsis: Darden describes the fierce race between Jon Ossoff and Karen Handel for the Congressional seat vacated by Tom Price in 2017. Darden emphasizes how Ossoff near-win of Democratic seat in a district specifically created to be Republican-held should be a sign of hope for Democrats in Georgia.

Keywords: 7th Congressional District; Donald Trump; Johnny Isakson; Metro Atlanta; Newt Gingrich; Rob Woodall; Saxby Chambliss; Sonny Purdue; campaign spending; geographic expansion of the Republican Party; rural conservative vote

01:25:26 - 2018 gubernatorial race

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Partial Transcript: Looking ahead to 2018, we've talked briefly about Representative Evans.

Segment Synopsis: Darden contrasts the campaigns of Stacey Evans and Stacey Abrams in the 2018 governor election. Darden then discusses the various Republican candidates vying for nomination, noting its similarity to the Democratic primary in the 1998 gubernatorial race.

Keywords: Hillbilly Elegy; Brian Kemp; Casey Cagle; Clay Tippins; Guy Milner; Hunter Hill; J.D. Vance; Mike Bowers; Mike Williams; Pierre Howard; Roy Barnes; Sonny Perdue; life story; voter appeal

01:34:07 - Future of the Democratic Party

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned the bench of the Democratic Party is virtually nonexistent.

Segment Synopsis: Darden ponders who could take the reigns of a reviving Democratic Party in Georgia. He considers both state-level politicians such as Stacey Evans and Stacey Abrams, as well as local Democratic figures such as Kasim Reed and Teresa Tomlinson.

Keywords: Bob Trammell; David Dreyer; Public Service Commissioner; Richmond County, Georgia; Scott Holcolm; purple state; two-party state