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Interview with Jay Morgan, November 1, 2017

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:28 - Managing Bob Bell's campaign

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Partial Transcript: Just to begin with, tell us a little bit about your childhood, upbringing, where you grew up, where you learned your love of politics.

Segment Synopsis: Morgan talks about the factors that cultivated his interest in a political career. He focuses on joining the political field by essentially working as Bob Bell's campaign manager during Bell's 1982 gubernatorial campaign.

Keywords: 1968 Presidential election; Carl Sanders; George Wallace; Hubert Humphrey; Joe Frank Harris; Richard Nixon; Spiro Agnew; Student Government Association; Talbotton, Georgia; University of Georgia; campaign coordinator; county commissioner; small business

00:07:17 - Working for the national party

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Partial Transcript: How did you settle into your next--

Segment Synopsis: Morgan describes moving on to work for the Republican National Committee after Bell's loss and also recalls being stationed to campaign in Mississippi, where he met Haley Barbour--a lobbyist, politician, and future governor of Mississippi. Morgan then explains why he returned to Georgia politics, taking the position as Paul Coverdell's executive director.

Keywords: Alabama; Georgia Republican Party; Jimmy Carter; John Stennis; Lanny Griffith; Lee Atwater; U.S. Senate; candidate recruitment; direct mail; donor base; grassroots campaigning; metro Atlanta; national politics; party organization; phone bank; population growth; reapportionment; state legislature; telemarketing

00:17:57 - 1986 elections

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Partial Transcript: So what was your first election cycle as executive director?

Segment Synopsis: Morgan discusses why Mack Mattingly's reelection to the U.S. Senate failed in 1986, sharing his insight as executive director for state party chairman Paul Coverdell. He also elaborates why the state party opted not to focus on the gubernatorial race that year, and the criticisms they garnered from the Republican candidate, Guy Davis.

Keywords: George H.W. Bush; Georgia Republican Party; Haley Barbour; Mitch Daniels; Newt Gingrich; Pat Swindall; Thad Cochran; Wyche Fowler; attack ads; campaign funding; fundraising; minority leader

00:27:57 - John Stuckey / George H.W. Bush campaign

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Partial Transcript: So 1986 turn into 1987, and Paul Coverdell steps down.

Segment Synopsis: Morgan touches upon why Paul Coverdell did not run for reelection as state party chairman, mentioning that John Stuckey succeeded Coverdell as chairman. Morgan details his role on George H.W. Bush's campaign early in the 1988 presidential primary.

Keywords: Bill Brock; Bob Dole; Fred Cooper; Fund for America's Future; Guy Davis; Jack Kemp; Joe Frank Harris; Lanny Griffith; Pat Robertson; Randy Evans; Republican National Committee; Rusty Paul; Skin Edge; donor base; presidential politics

00:36:01 - Pat Robertson's campaign

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Partial Transcript: So Pat Robertson, he's got The 700 Club.

Segment Synopsis: Morgan tells of how Pat Robertson's candidacy in the 1988 presidential primary shook the groundwork the Bush campaign had established. He notes that while the Robertson crowd was not a major success electorally, they used the delegate system of the Republican conventions to get ahead.

Keywords: Ames Straw Poll; Bob Dole; Brant Frost; Carolyn Meadows; George H.W. Bush; Iowa caucus; Jack Kemp; Jeb Bush; John Stuckey; Lanny Griffith; New Hampshire primary; Orlando, Florida; factionalism; national committeeman; national committeewoman; state party conventions

00:44:33 - Albany and New Orleans conventions

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Partial Transcript: Speaking of mountains out of molehills, the state convention in Albany.

Segment Synopsis: Morgan remembers the chaotic party convention in Albany, Georgia, in which two sets of delegates, one in favor of Pat Robertson and the other in favor of George H.W. Bush, were named. He then states how the events in Albany led to Robertson's forces taking over the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Keywords: Bobby Kahn; Fred Cooper; George H.W. Bush; Georgia Republican Party; John Stuckey; Paul Coverdell; national committeeman; national committeewoman; national delegates; rump convention

00:50:41 - Working for Lee Atwater

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Partial Transcript: The campaign afterward--the general election campaign against Dukakis- you guys were very successful.

Segment Synopsis: Morgan talks about moving on to working for the national Republican Party as a deputy political director for chairman Lee Atwater. Morgan also narrates how Johnny Isakson convinced him to work on his 1990 gubernatorial campaign, even obtaining Atwater's blessing.

Keywords: 1990 election; Bob Dole; Bob Teeter; Carroll Campbell; Christian right; Dan Quayle; Elizabeth Dole; Newt Gingrich; Republican National Committee; Zell Miller; lieutenant governor; party politics

00:57:46 - 1990 gubernatorial race

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Partial Transcript: So you come back, and there's not much of a primary.

Segment Synopsis: Morgan recalls Johnny Isakson's campaign for governor in 1990, particularly how Isakson was able to establish himself as a truly viable candidate alongside the Democratic contenders. Morgan highlights how the Zell Miller campaign, especially Paul Begala, was able to launch successful attacks on Isakson while shielding Miller's own weaknesses, resulting in Isakson's loss.

Keywords: Andrew Young; Bob Wood; Cobb County, Georgia; George H.W. Bush; George Israel; Georgia Lottery; James Carville; Lee Atwater; Pierre Howard; Sam Nunn; letter of credit; real estate

01:07:01 - After the 1990 election

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Partial Transcript: You wrote a postmortem after the election, and you talked about south Georgia.

Segment Synopsis: Morgan analyzes the factors that contributed to Isakson's loss in 1990, namely Pierre Howard's positive influence on Zell Miller's campaign via running as Miller's lieutenant governor, as well as the state lottery becoming a major campaign issue for Miller. Morgan then elaborates why he chose not to work on Paul Coverdell's campaign in 1992, instead opting to work in political consulting.

Keywords: Alec Poitevint; Atlanta suburbs; DeKalb County, Georgia; Fred Cooper; Gwinnett County, Georgia; James Carville; Joe Kennedy; Keith Mason; Newt Gingrich; Paul Begala; Phil Gramm; Saxby Chambliss; grassroots organization; middle Georgia; voter turnout

01:15:16 - 1992 elections and Mac Collins

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Partial Transcript: You worked for Mac Collins'--

Segment Synopsis: Morgan explains how the Democrats' efforts to gerrymander Republicans out of Congressional seats had the opposite effect in 1992 and 1994. He next talks about working as Mac Collins' chief of staff in Washington, D.C. after Collins was elected in 1992.

Keywords: Bob Barr; Charlie Norwood; Frank Elbert; Jack Brinkley; Jack Kingston; John Linder; Johnny Isakson; Newt Gingrich; Nolan Murrah; Pierre Howard; Richard Ray; Saxby Chambliss; T. Rogers Wade; Tom Murphy; state legislature

01:23:05 - Operation Breakthrough

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Partial Transcript: So, Operation Breakthrough.

Segment Synopsis: Morgan defines what "Operation Breakthrough" was for the Republican Party: to get candidates elected to state legislature, who can then recruit and raise funds for other candidates once in office. He emphasizes this strategy's success in Georgia and how it helped turn the Republican Party into a statewide competitive force.

Keywords: Bo Callaway; Chuck Clay; GOPAC; Newt Gingrich; Pete du Pont; Skin Edge; county commissioner; direct mail; messaging; phone banking; voter targeting

01:28:09 - 1996 Senate race

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Partial Transcript: So you're back in Georgia consulting again.

Segment Synopsis: Morgan tells of working on Johnny Isakson's 1996 campaign for U.S. Senate while also holding his political consulting job. He notes why Isakson lost the primary election to Guy Millner, and what Isakson did after enduring the loss.

Keywords: Bill Lee; Bob Dole; Brenda Fitzgerald; Casey Cagle; Charlie Norwood; Christian right; Contract with America; GeorgiaLink Public Affairs; John Linder; Larry Thomspon; Newt Gingrich; Pete Wilson; Sam Nunn; Skin Edge; Sonny Perdue; T. Rogers Wade; Zell Miller; abortion issues; corporations; demographic changes; lobbying; state school board

01:41:10 - 2002 elections

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Partial Transcript: So Johnny's on the Board of Education following that '96 race, '99 he replaces Newt Gingrich.

Segment Synopsis: Morgan lists the factors that contributed to the election of Saxby Chambliss to the U.S. Senate and Sonny Perdue to the governorship in 2002. Morgan names Charles Walker as a major contributor to driving key members, including Perdue himself, away from the Democratic Party.

Keywords: Bobby Kahn; Bonaire, Georgia; Guy Millner; Moultrie, Georgia; Paul Coverdell; Roy Barnes; corruption; middle Georgia; south Georgia; state flag; teachers' union

01:47:02 - Strengths and weaknesses of the parties

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Partial Transcript: So I guess that the meta questions are "why were Georgia Democrats able to hold on for so long," one, and "what were the key or decisive factors that enable Republican control".

Segment Synopsis: Morgan highlights the weaknesses of the Democratic Party that Republicans were able to capitalize on in order to gain control of Georgia politics. Morgan then laments the factionalism within the Republican Party, which he believes ultimately jeopardizes its power.

Keywords: Charles Walker; Charlie Norwood; Christian right; Congressional races; Dan Lee; David Perdue; David Ralston; Jack Hill; Jack Kingston; John Linder; Johnny Isakson; Mac Collins; Nathan Deal; Religious Freedom Restoration Act; Saxby Chambliss; Skin Edge; Sonny Perdue; business community; party organization; party switching; transportation

01:55:14 - Demographic changes / 2018 Democratic gubernatorial race

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Partial Transcript: What about demographic change?

Segment Synopsis: Morgan explains how demographic trends in Georgia will be troubling for Republicans unless they can reach out to Latino and Asian voters. He then states how the two candidates in the Democratic gubernatorial primary for 2018 demonstrate the increased polarization of politics due to reapportionment.

Keywords: African-American community; Alex Johnson; Cobb County, Georgia; DeKalb County, Georgia; Georgia General Assembly; Georgia Republican Assembly; Gwinnett County, Georgia; HOPE Scholarship; Henry County, Georgia; John Watson; Jon Ossoff; Stacey Abrams; Stacey Evans; entrepreneurship; general elections; immigration; primary elections; religious freedom

02:04:40 - Donald Trump's effect on politics

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Partial Transcript: To move away from the gubernatorial race to talk about Ossoff, since you brought it up, is that purely a reaction to Donald Trump, or is this--is that the catalyst that set off or highlighted the demographic, structural changes in metro Atlanta?

Segment Synopsis: Morgan describes how Donald Trump emerged victorious in the 2016 presidential primary, then succeeded in the general election. Morgan next examines the possible effects Trump's presidency may have on Republicans down-ballot.

Keywords: 2017 6th Congressional District special election; Bob Corker; Democratic Party; Ed Gillespie; George H.W. Bush; Jeff Flake; Lee Atwater; Mark Cuban; Ronald Reagan; Steve Bannon; demographic shifts; economic protectionism; extremism; immigration; name recognition; reapportionment; young urban professionals

02:11:35 - Future of Georgia Republicans

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Partial Transcript: We talked about reconciling at the national level, but here in Georgia, it seems like at least on the Republican side that Casey's Cagle's running.

Segment Synopsis: Morgan discusses what the future may hold for Georgia Republicans, particularly as it relates to the 2018 gubernatorial race. Looking at that race's primary contenders, he concludes that polarization in the party will alienate key voters, especially those that admire Nathan Deal.

Keywords: Amazon; Brian Kemp; Hunter Hill; John Oxendine; Mike Williams; Stacey Abrams; Zell Miller; campus carry; criminal justice reform; economic growth; education; lieutenant governor; local politics; name recognition; religious liberty; rural Georgia; state budget; state legislature; transportation