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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Bert Nettles, July 13, 1974. Interview A-0015. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Moderate Republicans in Alabama in the 1970s

Because of the many moderate younger voters becoming allied with the Republican Party during the 1970s in opposition to George Wallace and Democratic domination of state politics, Nettles expects that the Republican Party in Alabama would resist the neoconservativism that had begun creeping into national politics. He returns to this topic over the next several minutes of the interview.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Bert Nettles, July 13, 1974. Interview A-0015. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACK BASS:
Do you think the Republican party in Alabama is more moderate than many other southern states?
BERT NETTLES:
Yes, than in some other southern states. The young Republican party is not all that active. But I would think if you looked at the last three presidents, you've got three very responsible, moderate people. The last three state chairmen of the young Republican federation. Neil Accer from Montgomery, immediate past chairman who was a very, I think, well qualified and reasonable young man. The current chairman, from Russelville, recent law graduate from Alabama, Jeb Sessions, who likewise has his feet on the ground and decidedly is not the wild eyed type on any issue. And the predecessor to Accer was Ed Allen, who was for a number of years . . . I think two or three terms, chairman of the young Republicans. Also a lawyer. Birmingham. And these three, I think, really appear representative group of . . . . I'll match them against any of the young Democrats. These are three people who are not . . . did not run for public office. Just interested in building, improving the political scene in Alabama. And who are middle of the road philosophically.
JACK BASS:
Then the Goldwater wing is not in dominance in Alabama.
BERT NETTLES:
No. I think the best evidence of that is the fact that Jim Martin is no longer in leadership position.
JACK BASS:
Where does John Grennier fit in?
BERT NETTLES:
John is very close to Dick Bennett, the state chairman, and through Dick Bennett and some of the other members of the state leadership of the Republican party, maintains an active advisory role. But I think his role is advisory at this point. He is, unfortunately, much . . . he and Jim Martin polarized the two sections of the party. Sort of the moderates on the one hand and the hard core right on the other hand. John was a very abrasive type and as party chairman he made a great number of people unhappy in forming alliances within the party to maintain his domination and control. So a lot of people who are moderate by nature and philosophy personally opposed to John Grenier. [Interruption.] I suppose the one group I sort of carried in the senate race were the younger voters, the ones on college campuses who voted in the preferencial primaries. In the polls that were taken they were mostly in universities and colleges. I won almost all of them. Sparkman beat me in one or two. I think Blount ran ahead in one. But generally speaking we had a real good backing of these young people. Most of them did not register and those who registered . . . . Many of them did not register.
WALTER DE VRIES:
You're saying that the younger Republicans involved in politics are basically moderate.
BERT NETTLES:
Right. Theyoung Republicans involved now . . . basically there are more moderate . . . they are more moderate than not.