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Interview with Bob Shaw, October 16, 2017

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:30 - Life before politics

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Partial Transcript: Just to begin with, tell us a little bit about your childhood and your upbringing.

Segment Synopsis: Shaw recounts his life experiences that influenced his political makeup before entering the political scene. He states the factors that pushed him away from the Democratic Party in 1960, namely the policies of its national platform.

Keywords: Ernest Vandiver; Georgia Air National Guard; Georgia State University; Georgia Technical College; Herman Talmadge; Korean War; Marietta, Georgia; Republican Party; Richard Russell; Terrell County, Georgia; accounting; automobile mechanic; gospel music; history; insurance management; sharecropping; small business

00:07:35 - Republican Party in the 1960s

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Partial Transcript: But I decided to become a Republican.

Segment Synopsis: Shaw recalls first getting involved with the Republican Party by campaigning for Richard Nixon in 1960, leading to his own run for the state senate in 1964. Shaw then explains how his involvement in party politics led to his becoming the state party chairman for the Republicans in 1971.

Keywords: 1960 Presidential election; 1964 election; 1970 gubernatorial race; Barry Goldwater; Bo Callaway; Earl Patton; G. Paul Jones; Hal Suit; Horace Ward; Jimmy Bentley; Lyndon Johnson; Oliver Bateman; Richard Freeman; Rodney Cook; Roy Foster Jr.; Wiley Wasden; county party chairman; general election; state party chairman; state senate

00:12:49 - Atlanta Republican figures

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Partial Transcript: Let me take a step back and really dig into your early days in Atlanta politics, or Fulton County politics, as it were.

Segment Synopsis: Shaw lists the influential figures of the Republican Party in the 1960s. He gives emphasis to the figures in the "Draft Goldwater" movement, who aided Barry Goldwater's presidential nomination campaign in 1964.

Keywords: 1970 gubernatorial primary; Alec Bealer; Bill Dowda; Bob Snodgrass; Cobb County, Georgia; DeKalb County, Georgia; Ed Noble; Elbert Tuttle; G. Paul Jones; Hal Suit; Harry Sommers; Jimmy Bentley; Joe Tribble; Julian LeCraw; Oliver Bateman; Randolph Thrower; Rodney Cook; Roscoe Pickett; Roy Foster, Jr.; Whitney O'Keefe; Wiley Wasden; campaign manager; state senate

00:22:43 - Barry Goldwater and Bo Callaway

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Partial Transcript: What did Goldwater's--his nomination--mean for the trajectory of the Georgia Republican Party?

Segment Synopsis: Shaw discusses the roles Barry Goldwater and Bo Callaway played in forming the identity of the Georgia Republican Party. Shaw also contemplates what would have happened had the Georgia legislature picked Bo Callaway over Lester Maddox for governor in 1966.

Keywords: 1964 election; Atlanta, Georgia; Ernest Vandiver; Fletcher Thompson; Fulton County, Georgia; Henry Geisinger; Herman Talmadge; John Wesley Dobbs; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Mike Egan; Milledgeville, Georgia; National Committeeman; Nelson Rockefeller; Phil Campbell; Robert Kennedy; party platform; patronage

00:33:55 - Fletcher Thompson and Ben Blackburn

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Partial Transcript: Well, two people who did win- and you've already mentioned one- Fletcher Thompson, in the old Fifth District, and Ben Blackburn in the Fourth.

Segment Synopsis: Shaw describes the circumstances that allowed Fletcher Thompson and Ben Blackburn to win their Congressional races in 1966, as well as the factors that eventually ousted them from office. Shaw also talks about Newt Gingrich's shift from party politics to national politics after Thompson and Blackburn's departures left a vacancy for Georgia Republican leadership in Congress.

Keywords: 1966 election; Andrew Young; Bill Dowda; Charles Weltner; DeKalb County, Georgia; Fulton County, Georgia; Gerald Ford; Jack Flint; Lester Maddox; Newt Gingrich; Pat Swindall; Richard Russell; Rodney Cook; Watergate scandal; redistricting; state party chairman

00:40:17 - 1968 Presidential election

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Partial Transcript: So, in '68, you finally become Fulton County chairman.

Segment Synopsis: Shaw recalls Richard Nixon's messages of moderate conservatism, particularly in his 1968 presidential run. Shaw further elaborates on the role of Harry Dent, one of the originators of the Southern Strategy (see hyperlink below), in the Nixon campaign and in the Republican Party in the South.

Keywords: 1960 Presidential election; Barry Goldwater; Buckhead, Georgia; Clarke Reed; Fletcher Thompson; George Wallace; Hubert Humphrey; John Connally; Lyndon Johnson; Ronald Reagan; Secretary of the Treasury; Vietnam War

00:47:57 - Rodney Cook, G. Paul Jones, and Wiley Wasden

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Partial Transcript: Now, you mentioned it earlier--Rodney Cook's mayoral race.

Segment Synopsis: Shaw explains why Rodney Cook lost the Atlanta mayoral race to Sam Massell in 1969. He then remembers G. Paul Jones and Wiley Wasden as state party chairmen, particularly how they affected the 1970 gubernatorial primary race.

Keywords: African-American vote; Bo Callaway; College Park, Georgia; Democratic Party; East Point, Georgia; Fulton County, Georgia; Hal Suit; Jimmy Bentley; Macon, Georgia; Maynard Jackson; Oliver Bateman; Republican Party; Robert Wright; Savannah, Georgia; real estate; state legislature

00:59:39 - Republican Party of the 1970s

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Partial Transcript: That's sort of a natural segue into my next question.

Segment Synopsis: Shaw discusses the growing strength of the Georgia Republican Party prior to the reveal of the Watergate scandal. He then offers some insight into how Ronnie Thompson won the Republican Party's gubernatorial nomination in 1974.

Keywords: 1972 Presidential election; 1974 elections; Barry Goldwater; Bill Coolidge; Bo Callaway; George Lankford; George Wallace; Hal Suit; Harold Dye; Harry Dent; Harry Geisinger; Macon, Georgia; Richard Nixon; Spiro Agnew; minority whip; rural voters; state party chairman

01:08:43 - Republican Party after Watergate

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Partial Transcript: What was it like trying to pick up the pieces after '74?

Segment Synopsis: Shaw tells of the difficulties the Republican Party faced in the wake of the electoral and publicity nightmare that was the Watergate scandal. Shaw next elaborates on why Mack Mattingly challenged him for the position of state party chairman in 1975.

Keywords: 1974 elections; Bob Dole; John Savage; Richard Nixon; county organization; district chairmen; vice chairman

01:14:19 - Returning to Fulton County chairman

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Partial Transcript: So Mack Mattingly, who had been your vice chair, succeeds you as state party chairman.

Segment Synopsis: Shaw speaks of returning to local politics by becoming Fulton County's Republican Party Chairman. Shaw shares his insight into how the Republican Party made itself into a political powerhouse in the 1980s and 1990s.

Keywords: Billy Lovett; Cherokee County, Georgia; Cobb County, Georgia; Craig Schwall; David Shafer; DeKalb County, Georgia; John Oxendine; John Sours; demographic shifts; party organization; public service commissioner; white flight

01:21:50 - Christian Right / Rusty Paul

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Partial Transcript: You were still involved in the early '90s.

Segment Synopsis: Shaw comments on the increase of the Christian Right in the 1980s and 1990s, noting the movement's political shortcomings. Shaw then summarizes the political career of Rusty Paul, who was state party chairman during the Republicans' critical period in the 1990s.

Keywords: 1988 Presidential election; Brant Frost; Department of Housing and Urban Development; Don Balfour; Eva Galambos; Georgia Republican Party; Jack Kemp; John Watson; Matthew Patton; Pat Robertson; Rockdale County, Georgia; Sandy Springs, Georgia; Tom Price; abortion; journalism; party conventions; redistricting; same-sex marriage; single-issue voters; social conservatism

01:31:16 - Matt Patton / Republican leadership

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Partial Transcript: Well, you mentioned another name that jogged my memory: Matt Patton.

Segment Synopsis: Shaw remembers Matthew Patton's leadership role in the Republican Party of Georgia prior to being ousted as state party chairman by Fred Cooper. He then contemplates how the Republican governors have shaped the party and vice versa, as well as the long-term effects of Donald Trump's presidency.

Keywords: 1976 Presidential race; Barack Obama; George Busbee; Gerald Ford; Hillary Clinton; Joe Frank Harris; Nathan Deal; Newt Gingrich; Ronald Reagan; Sonny Perdue; Sue Everhart; Theodore Roosevelt; district chairman; news media; party factions; party leadership; party switching

01:41:10 - Threats to the Republican Party

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Partial Transcript: Well, when we're looking at the Georgia party, Republicans have been in power--in the governor's mansion since 2003, in the legislature since 2004, 2005.

Segment Synopsis: While Shaw does not consider the Democratic Party to currently be a major threat to Republicans in Georgia, he explains how infighting and factionalism within the party may lead to its own downfall. He further states that career politicians only seeking their own benefit may also taint the Republican Party's image.

Keywords: Obamacare; Rusty Paul; Tom Price; black vote; party unity; term limits

01:46:55 - Ossoff-Handel race / 2018 gubernatorial race

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Partial Transcript: Since we've already talked about President Trump, there was a very hotly contested special election to fill former Congressman Tom Price's seat.

Segment Synopsis: Shaw believes that the special election in 2017 for the 6th Congressional District displays Democrats' inability to gain popular public support, despite spending plenty of money in the race. Shaw then predicts the outcome of the 2018 gubernatorial race, affirming that Hunter Hill will stand out among the Republican contenders.

Keywords: Brian Kemp; Casey Cagle; Clay Tippins; Jon Ossoff; Karen Handel; Metro Atlanta; Mike Williams; Stacey Abrams; Stacey Evans; Zell Miller; campaign spending; communism; demographic shifts; lieutenant governor; one-party system; socialism; tax reform; two-party system

01:56:27 - Future of Georgia politics

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Partial Transcript: What are the key issues that motivate, energize Georgia Republicans?

Segment Synopsis: Shaw lists the issues he thinks will become major issues in Georgia politics, namely economic matters and transportation. However, he thinks the voting base, regardless of party, will increasingly move toward government subsidization of goods.

Keywords: Alpharetta, Georgia; Atlanta traffic; Barack Obama; Donald Trump; Iran; North Korea; Sandy Springs, Georgia; University System of Georgia; business community; crime; health insurance; housing; socialism; taxation; technology; terrorism