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Interview with Arthur (Skin) Edge IV, September 21, 2017

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:38 - Introduction to politics

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Partial Transcript: Just to begin, can you give us a little bit about your background, how you grew up.

Segment Synopsis: Edge talks about his lifelong fascination with politics, extending back to Barry Goldwater's Presidential run in 1964. He then remembers his career before being elected to the legislature and what convinced him to run for the state senate.

Keywords: Coweta County, Georgia; Democratic Party; Georgia Tech; Gerald Ford; Jimmy Carter; LaGrange, Georgia; Newnan, Georgia; Republican Party; Richmond, Virginia; Ronald Reagan; University of Georgia; Wood and Odom; legal career; local politics; state legislature

00:07:16 - 1986 state senate race

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Partial Transcript: So you're running in the--correct me if I'm wrong--the 28th District.

Segment Synopsis: Edge details his first campaign for the 28th District Georgia senate seat, in which he managed to beat the former state attorney general, Arthur Bolton. He then discusses what allowed him to overcome such a popular opponent despite 1986 otherwise being a poor year for Georgia Republicans.

Keywords: Arthur Bolton; Coweta County, Georgia; Fred Cooper; Griffin, Georgia; John Stuckey; Kyle Cobb; Mack Mattingly; Neil Shepherd; Newnan, Georgia; Paul Coverdell; Pike County, Georgia; Ronald Reagan; Spalding County, Georgia; Wyche Fowler; campaign organizer; rural areas; state Republican Party; state attorney general; textile industry

00:20:36 - Reelection races / Bipartisanship

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Partial Transcript: To be fair, once you did win election, you didn't really face much opposition once you were in office.

Segment Synopsis: Edge briefly recounts his reelection campaigns and the challengers that faced him. He then stresses that bipartisanship and cordial relations with other legislators were necessary to get bills passed as the minority party.

Keywords: Fayette County, Georgia; Paul Coverdell; Peachtree City, Georgia; Pike County, Georgia; Republican primary; Steve Wallace; Tyrone, Georgia; caucus meeting; conservatism; legal training; liberalism; minority leader; minority party; population growth; public libraries; reapportionment

00:27:38 - Zell Miller and Pierre Howard / Republican leadership

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Partial Transcript: What was it like with Zell Miller?

Segment Synopsis: Edge describes the working relationship he had with then-Governor Zell Miller and with Pierre Howard. He then recounts the role of the Republican Party's leadership in creating a party platform and recruiting candidates.

Keywords: Alec Poitevent; Billy Lovett; Bob Irvin; Casey Cagle; Chattahoochee River; Chuck Clay; Clay Land; David Ralston; David Shafer; Health Committee; Jay Morgan; John Watson; Johnny Isakson; Rusty Paul; Special Judiciary Committee; Steve Stancil; candidate recruitment; conservatism; education reform; environmental legislation; lieutenant governor; minority leader; minority party; party growth; party unity; sales tax; standing committee; state government; state senator; tax reform

00:38:52 - Incorporating the Christian right / Not seeking higher office

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Partial Transcript: Late '80s, early 90's, the party is growing but the party is also changing.

Segment Synopsis: Edge describes the friction in the Republican Party caused by the movement of a large number of social conservative Christians into the party. Afterward, Edge elaborates on why he never sought either a statewide office, like the governorship, nor a Congressional seat.

Keywords: Christian Coalition; Cobb County, Georgia; Georgia Republican Party; Johnny Isakson; Mack Collins; Newt Gingrich; Pierre Howard; Republican primaries; Tom Allgood; Zell Miller; candidate recruitment; lieutenant governor; local parties; party conventions; reapportionment; senate minority leader; social conservatism

00:47:00 - Public service / Growth of the Republican Party

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Partial Transcript: What's your best memory of the senate?

Segment Synopsis: Edge then lists the factors he believed contributed to the rise of the Georgia Republican Party, such as Ronald Reagan's popularity and the shift of the Democratic Party to the political left.

Keywords: Democratic coalition; GeorgiaLink Public Affairs Group; Nathan Deal; North Georgia; Pierre Howard; Ronald Reagan; Roy Barnes; Tom Murphy; Zell Miller; demographic shifts; friendship; liberalism; lobbying; metro Atlanta; minority party; party politics; party switching; political process; state growth

00:54:15 - Republican governance in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: So the Republican Party has been in charge, in control of state government, since 2003.

Segment Synopsis: Edge analyzes the policy changes Republicans have implemented since becoming the majority party in Georgia. Edge also credits the relative lack of gridlock in the Georgia General Assembly to the Republican's strong leadership in the legislature.

Keywords: Casey Cagle; Christian conservatives; David Ralston; Tea Party movement; budget growth; campus carry; compromise; economic conservatism; incremental change; legislative process; party factions; party leadership; policy gridlock; religious liberty; social issues; tax decreases

01:01:59 - Managing polarization and demographic changes

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Partial Transcript: We've mentioned polarization both at the state level and the national level.

Segment Synopsis: Edge commends the Georgia legislature for avoiding the levels of political polarization that the nation underwent, particularly as a result of Nathan Deal's emphasis on bipartisan efforts, such as criminal justice reform and education reform. Edge then elaborates on how demographic shifts may not be a large threat to the Republican Party if it can adapt accordingly.

Keywords: Gwinnett County, Georgia; Millennials; Sonny Perdue; child adoption process; child welfare; messaging; moderation; partisan redistricting; racial diversity; tax reform; young voters

01:09:04 - Career in lobbying / Future of Georgia politics

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Partial Transcript: So tell me about your current work.

Segment Synopsis: Edge talks about his lobbying firm, GeorgiaLink Public Affairs Group, and explains what types of clients hire the firm and what issues it argues for. Edge ponders the future political landscape in Georgia, predicting an increase in female and minority participation in politics.

Keywords: Atlanta Braves; Fortune 500 companies; Georgia Chamber of Commerce; Hugh Gillis; Sally Newbill; black caucus; contract lobbying; golfing industry; government lobbying; healthcare industry; local governments; private-public partnerships; rural caucus; special interests; turnover rate; women's caucus

01:15:18 - Problems in rural Georgia

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Partial Transcript: We mentioned changing demographics- how do you think that's going to play into the shifting politics or political culture as rural Georgia continues to shrink?

Segment Synopsis: Edge contemplates the multitude of problems facing rural Georgia, such as jobs opportunities decreasing, young people moving away, and hospitals closing. He notes that the solution is not to just simply improve transportation in those areas, as the extensive highway network has not truly helped rural communities, especially in South Georgia.

Keywords: Casey Cagle; David Ralston; Drew Ferguson; LaGrange, Georgia; SPLOST; Savannah, Georgia; Thomasville, Georgia; broadband internet; economic opportunity; healthcare; highways; local government; transportation