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Interview with Steve Anthony, December 7, 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: If you- go ahead and tell us a little bit about your childhood, your upbringing, how Steve Anthony came about.

Segment Synopsis: Anthony tells of being raised in a political family and environment, which contributed to his decision to pursue a career in politics. He explains that his introduction into public administration was by working as the aide for several state legislators and their committees.

Keywords: Bremen, Georgia; Calvin Smyre; Cartersville, Georgia; Chuck Clay; Floyd County, Georgia; G.D. Adams; Jack Connell; Joe Frank Harris; Rome, Georgia; Tom Murphy; University of West Georgia; Watergate hearings; Zell Miller; committee appointments; industrial base; lieutenant governor; local legislation; speaker pro tempore; state planning and community affairs committee

00:10:07 - Working in the Speaker of the House's office and as executive director

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Partial Transcript: So I had started to work there in '77, and in '81, I got promoted to the speaker's office.

Segment Synopsis: Anthony briefly touches upon his role as chief of staff in Speaker Tom Murphy's office. Anthony also discusses working as the executive director for the Democratic Party of Georgia for the latter half of the 1990s.

Keywords: 1988 election; Cathy Cox; David Whirley; Georgia Democratic Party; Georgia General Assembly; Joe Martin; John Blackmun; Mark Taylor; Max Cleland; Michael Coles; Michael Thurmond; Republican Party; Roy Barnes; Sam Nunn; Steve Wrigley; Thurbert Baker; Zell Miller; state budget

00:18:56 - Lecturing on political science

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Partial Transcript: So when that was over, I realized "well, I gotta get a job".

Segment Synopsis: Anthony talks about leaving the Speaker's office with Tom Murphy's defeat in 2002 and becoming a lecturer for Georgia State University. Anthony explains that even though he did not have academic credentials in the field of political science, his firsthand experience in campaigning, lobbying, and governmental affairs allowed him to lecture on those subjects.

Keywords: George Busbee; Georgia State University; Glenn Abney; Joe Frank Harris; Kennesaw State University; Zell Miller; public service; senior lecturer

00:24:24 - Larry McDonald

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Partial Transcript: So you were interning with John W. Davis.

Segment Synopsis: Anthony recalls Congressman Larry McDonald's unique brand of personality and politics, which Anthony experienced both by managing the campaign of McDonald's opponent and by being party chair of a county McDonald represented. Anthony emphasizes that while he agreed with very little of what McDonald believed, he respected McDonald for his honesty and public service.

Keywords: 1974 election; 7th Congressional district; Buddy Darden; Cobb County, Georgia; Donald Trump; Floyd County, Georgia; Franklin D. Roosevelt; John Birch Society; Kathryn McDonald; Ken Butterworth; Lockheed-Martin; Newt Gingrich; Quincy Collins; Ron Burke; Roy Barnes; Tom Murphy; anti-communism; carpeting; conservatism; medical industry; nationalism; north Georgia

00:38:28 - Newt Gingrich

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned Newt Gingrich.

Segment Synopsis: Anthony gives an anecdote of first meeting Newt Gingrich while the latter was still a novice history professor, prior to entering politics. He then remembers Gingrich's rise in the political sphere, noting where Gingrich, as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, drew inspiration from Tom Murphy's style of leadership as Speaker of the Georgia House.

Keywords: 1972 election; 1994 election; George McGovern; Haralson County, Georgia; John Flint; Kennesaw State University; Richard Nixon; Rockefeller Republican; Speaker of the House; University of West Georgia; gerrymandering

00:49:01 - Speaker Tom Murphy

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Partial Transcript: I guess that's sort of a good segue into talking about Speaker Murphy because I've done about two dozen of these interviews, and Speaker Murphy has always been described in the strongest of terms.

Segment Synopsis: Anthony details Tom Murphy's political astuteness, policy preferences, and leadership style and skills. He states why he believes Speaker Murphy was more fair to the Republican minority in the Georgia House than those Republicans make him out to have been.

Keywords: Democratic caucus; Dubose Porter; Glenn Richardson; Hosea Williams; Republican leadership; Roosevelt Democrat; Rusty Paul; abortion; budget office; committee chairs; fiscal conservatism; progressivism; social liberalism

00:59:47 - Reapportionment

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Partial Transcript: What were the hardest issues your office had to work on?

Segment Synopsis: Anthony discusses the reapportionment process in Georgia, calling it the most political action the legislature takes. Anthony particularly focuses on the 1991 redistricting plan, in which the Legislative Black Caucus cooperated with the Republican Caucus to form another majority-black congressional district, and the 2001 redistricting plan, which was later overturned for racial gerrymandering.

Keywords: Miller v. Johnson; Shaw v. Reno; Black Belt; Bobby Kahn; Cynthia McKinney; Department of Justice; George H.W. Bush; Roy Barnes; Tom DeLay; demographic changes; legislative black caucus; special session; state budget; transportation

01:09:31 - Cobb County Party Chairman

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Partial Transcript: I'm trying to think how we get back to--because I do want to talk about that, but I also want to talk about--since we're on the topic of demographics and changes- you were county Democratic chairman in Cobb County.

Segment Synopsis: Anthony discusses his tenure as chairman of the Cobb County Democratic Party, serving in the early 1980s, a time of immense Republican growth in the county. Anthony details the challenges of this position and the strategies he used to overcome them, comparing this position to his later role as the state party's executive director.

Keywords: Al Burruss; Bill Cooper; Bill Lee; Floyd County, Georgia; Jack Connell; Joe Mack Wilson; Larry Walker; Terry Coleman; Tom Murphy; chief of staff; complacency; fundraising; long-term strategy; multimember districts

01:16:29 - Growth of the Republican Party

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Partial Transcript: How would you describe--compare and contrast for me, if you will, the Democratic Party apparatus and its organization versus the Republican apparatus and organization.

Segment Synopsis: Anthony lists the factors that made the Republican Party of Georgia grow in strength in strength and power, particularly in the 1990s. He credits then-state party chairman Rusty Paul for developing a long-term strategy to make Republicans competitive at all levels, from statewide to local races.

Keywords: 1992 election; 1994 election; Augusta, Georgia; Bill Lee; Columbus, Georgia; David Ralston; DeKalb County, Georgia; Fulton County, Georgia; Jack Kemp; Joyce Carter; Macon, Georgia; Marguerite Williams; Nathan Deal; Rockefeller Republicans; Roy Barnes; Savannah, Georgia; Thomasville, Georgia; Tom Murphy; Valdosta, Georgia; business community; conservatism; fiscal conservatism; governor; party organization; population growth; religious right; social conservatism; state Democratic Party; state legislature

01:28:43 - Strengths of the Georgia Democrats

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Partial Transcript: Walk me through that.

Segment Synopsis: Anthony says that Democrats' greatest strength is their embrace of liberalism: the idea that government policy is capable of solving the public's problems and of "protecting the downtrodden." However, Anthony states that for Georgia Democrats to start succeeding again, they must focus on issues relevant to Georgians and to embrace the business community again.

Keywords: 2002 election; Bob Trammell; Dubose Porter; Jack Hill; Johnny Isakson; Roy Barnes; Scott Holcomb; Sonny Perdue; Stacey Abrams; Stacey Evans; business community; donor base; national Democratic Party; national politics; social welfare

01:37:12 - Values of the parties

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Partial Transcript: So what does the Democratic Party--here's a question I ask everybody.

Segment Synopsis: Anthony laments that the Georgia Democratic Party does not seem to have a coherent set of values; instead, he believes the state party just reiterates what the national Democrats talk about. He compares this with the divisions he notes in the Georgia Republican Party between social conservatives and the more business-mind Republicans concerned about economic growth.

Keywords: David Ralston; Donald Trump; HOPE Scholarship; Josh McKoon; Medicaid expansion; Nathan Deal; Sonny Perdue; Tom Moreland; Tom Murphy; Zell Miller; compromise; gasoline tax; leadership; national politics; partisanship; religious liberty; transportation; urban-rural divide

01:46:39 - Effects of Donald Trump's presidency

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Partial Transcript: Well let's skip ahead and talk about that.

Segment Synopsis: Anthony analyzes the 2017 6th congressional district special election between Jon Ossoff and Karen Handel, noting that while Jon Ossoff's performance may have been a reaction to Donald Trump, Ossoff was also bolstered by the media attention he received. Anthony also notes that one long-term effect of the Trump presidency is the incorporation of many more millennial voters into the Democratic Party.

Keywords: 2017 Atlanta mayoral race; 2018 gubernatorial race; Keisha Lance Bottoms; New Georgia Project; Stacey Abrams; Stacey Evans; fundraising; voter registration; voter turnout

01:54:44 - 2018 gubernatorial election

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Partial Transcript: Break down the gubernatorial election for me.

Segment Synopsis: Anthony predicts the 2018 gubernatorial election in Georgia, believing that it will be nearly impossible for Stacey Evans to win the Democratic primary. On the Republican side, he sees Casey Cagle as the frontrunner, primarily due to Cagle's name recognition and history of public service.

Keywords: "establishment Republicans"; Brian Kemp; Clay Tippins; David Ralston; Donald Trump; Hunter Hill; Mike Williams; Stacey Abrams; Watergate scandal; grassroots organization

02:00:33 - Donald Trump and the 2016 election

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Partial Transcript: Donald Trump--and you mentioned at the outset, Larry McDonald as a sort of proto-Trump.

Segment Synopsis: Anthony explains how the "establishment" Republicans did not recognize Donald Trump as a threat until he had already won the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Anthony then likens Donald Trump to George Wallace, calling both of them demagogues who used populist rhetoric to appeal to white working-class voters.

Keywords: Bill Clinton; Fulton County, Georgia; George H.W. Bush; George W. Bush; Hillary Clinton; John Birch Society; Pat Buchanan; Robert Kennedy; Rockefeller Republicans; Ronald Reagan; business community; demographic changes; free trade; national Republican Party; paleoconservatism; rural counties

02:15:28 - Future outlook of the parties

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Partial Transcript: Trying to wrap up here, what do you think the Democratic and Republican Parties here in Georgia look like in term of demographic makeup, ideology--

Segment Synopsis: Anthony believes that the Democratic Party of Georgia will continue to grow into a majority-minority party that increasingly embraces liberalism. Anthony also believes that the unchecked population growth in Georgia will be the Republicans' own undoing, as the new demographics moving into metro Atlanta are predominantly Democratic voters.

Keywords: Donald Trump; George Busbee; Joe Frank Harris; critical realignment; public education; urban-rural divide