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Interview with Edward Lindsey, Jr., January 26, 2018

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:49 - Early life

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Partial Transcript: Just to begin with, I wonder if you could tell me about your childhood, your upbringing, and how you came to be Mr. Lindsey.

Segment Synopsis: Lindsey recounts his early life, including being raised in Atlanta but spending summer in Wilcox County, before attending Davidson College in North Carolina. Lindsey explains his decision to switch from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party in 1980, being prompted to switch by Carter's failures and Reagan's sense of optimism.

Keywords: Harry Truman; Iran hostage crisis; Pineview, Georgia; Young Democrats; agriculture; county unit system; foreign policy; history; liberal arts education; rural Georgia; urban-rural divide

00:07:17 - Legal practice / Atlanta politics

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Partial Transcript: Well, your best days were ahead of you after you left North Carolina and went to the University of Georgia for law school.

Segment Synopsis: Lindsey summarizes his legal career, which briefly took him to Toccoa, Georgia before returning to Atlanta in 1990 to start his own law firm. Lindsey then gives his thoughts on the political climate of Atlanta, noting that its relatively progressive attitude in race relations allowed it to grow more quickly than any other city in the Deep South.

Keywords: 1996 Olympic Games; Andrew Young; Bill Campbell; Civil Rights Act of 1964; Dentons; Goodman McGuffey Lindsey & Johnson; Ivan Allen; Kasim Reed; Maynard Jackson; Shirley Franklin; University of Georgia School of Law; political culture; racial divisions; rural Georgia; small business; small towns

00:14:33 - Running for the state legislature

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Partial Transcript: Now how did you get involved in politics?

Segment Synopsis: Lindsey describes how he became actively involved in Republican politics, particularly his campaigns in 2000 for the Georgia Senate and successfully in 2004 for the Georgia House. He particularly details how the residential nature of Buckhead made "retail politics"- in-person campaigning and doorknocking- the most effective campaign strategy.

Keywords: 54th House district; Bradley-Wilder effect; Doris "Dee" Downs; Rusty Paul; campaign treasurer; civic affairs; education; neighborhood associations; neighborhoods; polling; primary election; property taxes; transportation

00:22:25 - Sonny Perdue's campaign / Entering the state house

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Partial Transcript: You were sworn in 2005.

Segment Synopsis: Lindsey talks about managing Sonny Perdue's gubernatorial campaign in Fulton County during the 2002 race. He then remembers the Republican leadership as he entered the Georgia House of Representatives in 2005, including Glenn Richardson as Speaker of the House, Jerry Keen as the Majority Leader, and Mark Burkhalter as Speaker Pro Tempore.

Keywords: 2002 gubernatorial general election; 2002 gubernatorial primary election; 2004 election; Bill Byrne; Linda Schrenko; businessman; committee assignments; freshman legislator; intelligence

00:28:14 - Legislative goals

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Partial Transcript: What were your top priorities as- that was the first time the Republicans had had the state house in- go back to Reconstruction.

Segment Synopsis: Lindsey lists the causes he championed during his tenure as a state legislator, including issues such as education reform, tort reform, and the incorporation of Sandy Springs. He gives particular attention on legislation to help combat human trafficking, which he says needed to address the concerns of prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and victims.

Keywords: Atlanta perimiter; Midtown Atlanta; Renee Unterman; charter schools; criminal penalties; drug trafficking; education committee; judiciary committee; property taxes; property value reassessment; public transit; qualified immunity; quality education; urban transportation

00:38:03 - Transportation in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: And skipping to transportation, a complex issue, but not as sensitive as human trafficking.

Segment Synopsis: Lindsey details the problems and possible solutions to Georgia's transportation system he learned while on the Joint Study Committee on Critical Transportation Infrastructure Funding. He explains that a modernized transportation infrastructure would not only benefit citizens by decreasing street traffic but it would promote economic development in and around Atlanta.

Keywords: Amazon; Cobb County, Georgia; David Ralston; Georgia Department of Transportation; Gwinnett County, Georgia; MARTA; Millennials; Rusty Paul; Sam Massell; Sandy Springs, Georgia; Sonny Perdue; T-SPOST; busing; high-speed rail; metro Atlanta; public transit; quality of life; street traffic; urban sprawl

00:46:34 - 2011 redistricting plan

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Partial Transcript: Shifting gears away from transportation, were you involved in the redistricting process?

Segment Synopsis: Lindsey describes modifying and advocating for the redistricting plan of 2011 as the Georgia House's majority whip. Lindsey adds that the 2011 redistricting plan was the only post-census plan that was not challenged by the Department of Justice or struck down by the courts, a point he takes pride in.

Keywords: 2002 election; 2004 election; 2004 redistricting plan; Alec Poitevint; City of Atlanta; David Ralston; Ralph Reed; Sandy Springs, Georgia; Saxby Chambliss; Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act; Sonny Perdue; bipartisanship; grassroots organization; partisan gerrymandering; party-switching; preclearance; state party leadership

00:54:42 - 2014 Congressional race

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Partial Transcript: Speaking of elections, you ran for Congress in 2014?

Segment Synopsis: Lindsey recalls his run for the 11th Congressional district in 2014 and losing in the primary to Barry Loudermilk. Lindsey notes that the voters in that election were angry about the Obama administration and less likely to be concerned about practical policy, yet he would not have changed his campaign strategy because he would rather have the voters select whom they want instead of winning based on a facade.

Keywords: "body man"; 2016 election; Atlanta, Georgia; Bartow County, Georgia; Buckhead, Georgia; Cherokee County, Georgia; Cobb County, Georgia; alienation; disclosure; economic insecurity; election laws; fear; openness; transparency

01:01:13 - Regional problems in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: Back in the 1980s, the "two Georgias" was the big- there's Atlanta and then there's rural Georgia.

Segment Synopsis: Lindsey contrasts the distinct issues that urban, suburban, and rural areas each face within Georgia and the political consequences of each issue being left untreated. He particularly highlights rural Georgia and its need of high-quality healthcare, education, and broadband internet access.

Keywords: Georgia Department of Transportation; cities; east Atlanta; economic decline; economic prosperity; infrastructure; internet service providers; metro Atlanta; north Atlanta; regulations; right-of-ways; suburbs; workforce training

01:06:55 - Maintaining dominance in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: Zooming out a little bit, why were Georgia Democrats able to hold on to power so much longer than South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida?

Segment Synopsis: Lindsey comments on how he believes the Democrats maintained power in Georgia: through electing skilled, conservative governors, like George Busbee and Zell Miller. Lindsey believes that Republicans not only need to do the same, but also need to take the forefront on "gateway" issues that reach out to atypical Republican voters and bring them into the party coalition.

Keywords: "conservative reform"; "governing Republicans"; 2012 charter school constitutional amendment; David Ralston; Democratic Party of Georgia; Jimmy Carter; Joe Frank Harris; Johnny Isakson; Nathan Deal; Paul Coverdell; Religious Freedom Restoration Act; Roy Barnes; Tea Party movement; charter schools; criminal justice reform; education reform; interest groups; school choice; social issues; strong leadership; transportation; urban progressives; wedge issues

01:17:31 - Bipartisanship in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: What are those issues- we talked about how this is a period of extreme partisanship, more so at the national level, but it's present in Georgia.

Segment Synopsis: Lindsey lists the bipartisan policies the Georgia legislature undertook during his tenure, saying these examples show that bipartisanship has not disappeared on the state level. He then criticizes boiling electoral politics down to demographic change, as he believes it is undemocratic and only further divides demographic groups.

Keywords: 2012 charter school constitutional amendment; Barry Loudermilk; Kevin Tanner; United States Congress; ability to govern; conservative issues; criminal justice reform; education reform; factionalism; hate crime legislation; public policy; public transit

01:23:40 - Donald Trump and the 2016 election

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Partial Transcript: You already mentioned President Trump, his campaign victory.

Segment Synopsis: Lindsey gives his thoughts on how Donald Trump came to win the Republican nomination and the presidency in 2016, with Lindsey criticizing both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton for utilizing division in their general election campaigns. Lindsey further hopes that such political divisions do not appear in the 2018 elections; instead, he hopes that candidates focus on policy issues rather than "bumper sticker issues" that only anger and divide.

Keywords: "establishment" Republican; Cobb County, Georgia; Fulton County, Georgia; Georgia 6th Congressional district; Gwinnett County, Georgia; Mitt Romney; deregulation; education reform; quality of life; rural Georgia; tax reform; transportation