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Interview with Roy Barnes, November 6, 2017

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:39 - Growing up in Cobb County

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Partial Transcript: I was wondering if we could begin--tell me a little bit about your childhood, your upbringing.

Segment Synopsis: Barnes speaks of living in Cobb County when its population started exploding--especially in Marietta--which Barnes attributes to "white flight" from Atlanta and the growth of the Lockheed Martin plant in Marietta. He also discusses how his family's political support of the Talmadge family (a family dynasty in politics) shaped his own political views.

Keywords: Bell Bomber; Eugene Talmadge; Herman Talmadge; Mableton, Georgia; Marietta, Georgia; Richard B. Russell; agriculture; campaigning; general store; populism

00:09:08 - Introduction to politics / Running for the state senate

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Partial Transcript: So tell me about your first forays into politics, your first political experiences, even before your run for office.

Segment Synopsis: Barnes describes joining the Republican Party while attending the University of Georgia due to Lester Maddox's gubernatorial campaign in 1966, but then switching over the the Democratic Party due to Richard Nixon's role in the Republican Party. Barnes also details his experience running for and participating in the Georgia Senate as one of its youngest members, including being Joe Frank Harris's floor leader during Harris's governorship.

Keywords: 1990 gubernatorial race; African-American voters; Andrew Young; Athens, Georgia; Bob Bell; Cobb County District Attorney's Office; Culver Kidd; Georgia General Assembly; Jim Tysinger; Paul Coverdell; Reserve Officers' Training Corps; Student Bar Association; University of Georgia School of Law; Zell Miller; rural white voters

00:16:30 - Night-and-day coalition

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Partial Transcript: Just to skip ahead--I meant to ask you about that.

Segment Synopsis: Barnes explains why the "night-and-day coalition"--the Democratic base of rural white voters and urban black voters--collapsed in the 1990s. He then proposes how Democrats may be able to build another stable coalition in Georgia, this time replacing rural whites with suburban, educated whites, especially women.

Keywords: 1998 gubernatorial race; 2017 Sixth Congressional District special election; Barry Goldwater; Bob Shaw; Cherokee County, Georgia; Civil Rights Act of 1964; Cobb County, Georgia; Donald Trump; Gwinnett County, Georgia; Hillary Clinton; Jon Ossoff; Lyndon Johnson; Mack Mattingly; Rob Woodall; Ronald Reagan; Seventh Congressional District; Tom Price; demographic changes; education; environmental issues; independent voters; jungle primary; social issues; white flight; young voters

00:27:39 - Democratic incumbency in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: That gets me to the question: why were Georgia Democrats, with that night-and-day coalition, able to hold on for so long?

Segment Synopsis: Barnes states that Jimmy Carter's presidency, along with conservative governors, helped the Democrats retain their majorities in Georgia when other Southern states turned Republican. He then says that Georgia Democrats finally lost political control because of the Republicans' superior party organization and ability to articulate issues that resonated with voters.

Keywords: Bill Clinton; Bobby Kahn; George Busbee; Jimmy Carter; Joe Frank Harris; Sam Nunn; Tom Murphy; Zell Miller; national Democratic Party; partisanship; party organization; taxation; voter targeting

00:34:58 - Factionalism and partisanship in the parties

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Partial Transcript: The Democratic Party of Georgia.

Segment Synopsis: Barnes comments on the factions that have formed in in them modern political parties--along ethnic lines in the Democratic Party, and along social issues in the Republican Party. Barnes then speaks more broadly of the growing rift between the parties and their policies, which he believes is being exacerbated by Donald Trump and his presidential administration.

Keywords: "country club" Republicans; David Ralston; Eric Cantor; Johnny Isakson; LGBT community; Paul Coverdell; Republican-In-Name-Only; candidate quality; economic issues; education; identity politics; populism

00:40:57 - Donald Trump and the Republican Party

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Partial Transcript: What does Donald Trump mean to, one, the national party, and its future, its message, its priorities, and do you think that will trickle down to the state party?

Segment Synopsis: Barnes ponders the long-term effects that Donald Trump's presidency will have on both the nation and the Republican Party, concluding that a major backlash from the Democratic Party will follow. Barnes considers the idea that Trump himself was a reaction to Barack Obama's presidency, with Barnes observing a racial component to this reaction.

Keywords: 2018 gubernatorial race; 2020 presidential election; Bernie Sanders; Franklin Delano Roosevelt; George Romney; Harry S. Truman; Nelson Rockefeller; Richard Nixon; Ronald Reagan; Ta-Nehisi Coates; Thurbert Baker; civility; economic nationalism; extremism; free trade; immigration; millennials; racial issues

00:49:22 - Transportation and economic development

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Partial Transcript: What- for example, if we look at Georgia--what would you say the priorities of the Republican governing majority are here in Georgia, setting aside Washington.

Segment Synopsis: Barnes proposes some solution to Georgia's--especially Atlanta's--failing transportation infrastructure, including some he tried to implement as governor. Barnes explains how strong transportation infrastructure is a necessity to both citizens and businesses, and therefore, beneficial to economic development.

Keywords: Bob Bell; Cobb County, Georgia; Forsythe County, Georgia; Georgia Department of Transportation; Georgia Regional Transportation Authority; Gwinnett County, Georgia; Hartsfield-Jackson Airport; Jim Gillis; Jim Tysinger; MARTA; Nathan Deal; Paul Coverdell; Urban Caucus; charter schools; private education; public education; social issues

00:59:12 - Future of Georgia politics

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Partial Transcript: Getting back to politics, the Georgia Republicans.

Segment Synopsis: Barnes discusses why he chose to support Stacey Evans in the 2018 gubernatorial race and Vincent Fort in the 2017 Atlanta mayoral race. Barnes then lists what he believes will be the primary issues in Georgia politics in the coming years, such as skills training in education, affordable housing, and fair taxation, to name a few.

Keywords: Brian Robinson; Jay Morgan; TSPLOST; business community; factionalism; gerrymandering; leadership; skilled workers; social issues