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Interview with John Stuckey, November 4, 2017

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:35 - Early life in Louisiana / Military service

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Partial Transcript: Just to begin with, I wondered if you would tell us a little about your childhood, your upbringing, things of that nature.

Segment Synopsis: Stuckey describes growing up in rural Louisiana, explaining how that influenced his political outlook. Stuckey also touches upon his five years in the military, which were primarily spent organizing military intelligence at the Pentagon.

Keywords: Fort Benning, Georgia; George Washington University Law School; Huey Long; Louisiana State University; Reserve Officer Training Corps; Russell Long; T. Harry Williams

00:08:00 - Joining the Republican Party

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Partial Transcript: So you grew up in Louisiana, a state dominated by Democratic politics, Democratic machines.

Segment Synopsis: Stuckey details joining Republican politics by being employed by the Republican National Committee while in law school. He elaborates that this led to him being sent to Tennessee to campaign for Bill Brock, first for Brock's congressional races, then for Brock's 1970 Senate run.

Keywords: Al Gore, Sr.; Bill Timmons; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Knoxville, Tennessee; Memphis, Tennessee; Nashville, Tennessee; Paul Coverdell; Richard Nixon; Southern Strategy; Vietnam War; campaign organization

00:15:42 - Legal practice and moving to Georgia

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Partial Transcript: So after the campaign, you go back to Washington.

Segment Synopsis: Stuckey tells of starting his career in law after leaving the Brock campaign, particularly how this led to him to move to Georgia. He recalls Bill Brock's role in the national Republican Party, particularly as chairman.

Keywords: Atlanta, Georgia; Ben Cotton; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Coweta County, Georgia; Georgia Republican Party; Jim Day; Johnny Isakson; Republican National Committee; Ronald Reagan; Watergate scandal

00:21:44 - District Party Chairman

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Partial Transcript: So you moved out here--this would have been the old Sixth District at the time.

Segment Synopsis: Stuckey lists the hurdles in being both Coweta County party chairman and the congressional district chairman in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. He recalls his role in recruiting (Arthur) Skin Edge and Randy Evans to run for public office, as well as supporting Newt Gingrich's campaign.

Keywords: 1980 election; Bill Clinton; Bo Callaway; Fred Cooper; GOPAC; Jack Flynt; Mack Mattingly; Paul Coverdell; Pete DuPont; campaign chairman; fundraising

00:28:35 - Becoming state party chairman

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Partial Transcript: So you became state party chairman in 1987.

Segment Synopsis: Stuckey explains why he chose to run for the Republican Party's state chairman position in 1987, citing the encouragement of Paul Coverdell and Stuckey's adviser, John Teasley, as the main reason. He details how he planned to build the party infrastructure to reach outside of Atlanta and Savannah into the more rural areas.

Keywords: Bob Bell; Fred Cooper; Jack Kingston; Jay Morgan; ORVIS; candidate recruitment; direct mail; phone banking; state party convention

00:33:55 - 1988 Presidential primary

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Partial Transcript: So moving in to--you were elected state party chairman in '87.

Segment Synopsis: Stuckey remembers the 1988 presidential primary in Georgia, namely the fighting between supporters of Pat Robertson and George H.W. Bush that ensued in that race. Stuckey particularly gives attention to the state party convention in Albany that year, in which he claims Robertson supporters disrupted the convention process, forcing him to adjourn the convention early.

Keywords: Albany, Georgia; Bob Dole; Brant Frost; Fred Cooper; Freedom Caucus; Jack Kemp; Jay Morgan; John Teasley; Paul Coverdell; Paul Ryan; Ralph Hudgens; Rusty Paul; district conventions; national delegates; rump delegation

00:44:44 - 1988 Republican National Convention

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Partial Transcript: As you said, you departed and then reconvened the state central committee.

Segment Synopsis: Stuckey describes how the adjournment of the state convention in Albany led to two slates of delegates, one in favor of George H.W. Bush and one in favor of Pat Robertson, being sent to the national convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. He claims that the credentials committee of the convention selected the Robertson delegates over the Bush delegates so as to not cause any more trouble and alienate new voters in the party.

Keywords: Brant Frost; Christian Right; Dick Richards; Fred Cooper; Georgia Republican Party; Marguerite Williams; Paul Coverdell; Rusty Paul; abortion issue; national committeewoman

00:52:43 - Growing the Republican Party

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Partial Transcript: From the moment you declined to run for reelection, did you realize that that fight from 1988 was going to spill into the '89 party chair election as well?

Segment Synopsis: Stuckey lists the tools and strategies Georgia Republicans used to make electoral gains against their Democratic opponents. Stuckey emphasizes the party's efforts to incorporate the "Christian Right" into the party after the defeat of their candidate, Pat Robertson, in 1988.

Keywords: 1968 Presidential campaign; 1989 state party chairman election; Alec Poitevint; Arthur Bolton; Newnan, Georgia; Richard Nixon; Skin Edge; candidate recruitment; direct mail; fundraising; opposition research; phone banking; public relations

01:00:31 - Georgia Democratic Party

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Partial Transcript: Why do you think it is that Georgia Democrats were able to hold on so long in the state?

Segment Synopsis: Stuckey discusses how the Democratic Party in Georgia was able to retain political power for over a century. He credits this to Democrats running off their own inertia and stifling two-party development, though he says that the current Democratic Party in Georgia focuses too much on identity politics which will detract from their party success in the future.

Keywords: African-American vote; Atlanta, Georgia; Coweta County, Georgia; Hillary Clinton; Jack Kingston; Kasim Reed; Savannah, Georgia; Skin Edge; Stacey Abrams; Stacey Evans; national Democratic Party; one-party system; rural white vote

01:07:54 - Donald Trump and economic protectionism

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Partial Transcript: In 2016, since you brought up Hillary Clinton, if you looked at Donald Trump, his career, his persona, coming into the Republican Party dominated by heavyweights.

Segment Synopsis: Stuckey talks about how Donald Trump succeeded in becoming President in 2016 by appealing to Rust Belt voters who typically leaned Democrat. He focuses specifically on Trump's position of economic protectionism, which appeals to these voters and runs counter to the free trade positions of most other presidential candidates for the past several decades.

Keywords: Andre Jackson; Bernie Sanders; Blue Dog Democrats; Bob Corker; Chamber of Commerce; Chris Christie; Jeb Bush; Jeff Flake; Joe Manchin; John McCain; Lindsey Graham; Marco Rubio; Richard Nixon; Ronald Reagan; Ted Cruz; bipartisanship; criminal justice system; due process; globalism; immigration reform; populism

01:19:50 - Identity politics / Economic development

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Partial Transcript: We've been talking the last few minutes about national-level politics.

Segment Synopsis: Stuckey laments what he sees as the increasing role of identity politics in state affairs, particularly as it relates to demographic changes in Georgia. Stuckey also touches upon how legislators help bolster economic development and business growth in Georgia.

Keywords: 2016 Democratic Presidential primary; Antifa; Asian voters; Bernie Sanders; Chamber of Commerce; Donna Brazile; Hillary Clinton; Hispanic voters; Ku Klux Klan; business community; conspiracy theories; religious right