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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, [date unknown]. Interview A-0140. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

North Carolina voters oppose machine politics

North Carolina's one-party system dominated politics and served as an informal political machine until Sanford's governorship in 1960. This passage implies that North Carolinians avoided appearances of machine politics, preferring one-party politics instead. However, this grew increasingly impractical in the face of a growing Republican Party.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, [date unknown]. Interview A-0140. 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

...There wasn't any Democratic party except in times of those organizations coming together down to election time. In '60, Mr. Broughton had died, Mr. Umstead had died, Mr. Scott had died, Governor Hodges didn't have any organization. And we were operating without the usual structures that made a political organization in this state, our one-party system. And so the time was right for somebody to put together a new coalition of people, and that fell to me because I came along at that time. And that's what we see today. Not with any intense loyalty to Sanford, but people that have more or less coalesced around the concept of the kind of politics we worked at. And I take no particular credit for that, except that I happened to be here at the time. Nor do I think all the loyalty runs to me, because it was proved in the '72 election.
But is there an organization other than just personal contact and informal contact?
The enduring thing about the machine, if that's the word you want to use, is that we never really set out to have one, that we never based it on what they could get out of it. And we never based it on the fact that we had to win all the elections. And we might have solidified that organization by the Richardson Preyer defeat. A little side note, that carried over, as you know. All these candidates didn't necessarily want to be associated with me, or didn't want to be considered a part of a machine, or a machine hand-picked candidate. In any event, it was bad politics. Almost everybody knew that I was for Preyer, but Preyer himself didn't want Bennett and me working for him or speaking out for him. I think it was a mistake in strategy, but how could I say so. I might say that I thought Skipper lost some votes by standing too far away from me, but how again can I say so. And I couldn't in Preyer's campaign, though we had talked with him about running after Hodges had, incidentally. But we had encouraged him to run, Bert Bennett and me. Then it was concluded that it would be better for us to look out for the national campaign, let Preyer run his own campaign. He called on me about two days before the second primary, and asked me if I'd make a public television appearance with him on his behalf. But that's the first time in that calendar year that he'd called on me. It's almost the first time that he'd mentioned my name. And his wife was so delighted. They thought it was so great. And I felt like if they'd called on me back in February, it might have been able to change some things. Cause I could've campaigned mostly for him without fear that if we lost I'd take all the blame from him. But I think I could have been very effective, and . . . if they let Moore campaign against me, not against Preyer, and wouldn't let me campaign back against Moore, that is what they said . . . I figured that Preyer had a right to run his own campaign. But when they asked me on about Thursday to speak on Friday night, or maybe it was Wednesday, I knew that it was an absolute lost cause. The only question in my mind was whether it was going to get to be two to one or four to one. But I decided to go speak. I could have just left it alone and I'd have been about halfway tainted with the defeat. But I decided to go speak, because all of our friends, all over the state, were going down in local defeat. Our candidate was being defeated statewide, and I figured it would be a damn good thing for the long run life of the group if I went down real publicly, right on out there, taking all the things that they took. And that's one of the main reasons I just eagerly jumped on it. So I had no illusions that we could turn the election around. Anybody could, with one speech.