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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, May 14, 1976. Interview A-0328-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Divisions within the Democratic Party

Even though the seeds of progressivism emerged in late 1940s North Carolina, Sanford asserts that his 1960 gubernatorial campaign marked the division between the older and newer branches of the Democratic Party. The division stymied progressive measures, but also eliminated the utility of racist platforms.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, May 14, 1976. Interview A-0328-1. 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

BRENT GLASS:
What is the importance of the Young Democrats?
TERRY SANFORD:
That's hard to say.
BRENT GLASS:
Is it a kind of breeding ground or training ground?
TERRY SANFORD:
It rises and falls, and in some states it's important and in some states it isn't. But here it's very important because it gave you a reach across the state and, with one or two minor exceptions where maybe we didn't much care, for fifteen years our group dominated the Young Democrats. You can look at every president, with again one or two exceptions, maybe, where we didn't particularly try. Our side elected the president. The person that was elected right after me was one of my Red Cross life-saving cronies at Chapel Hill, from Asheville, and Henry Hall Wilson was president, Jim Hunt, you know, just right down the line, Steve Nimocks. So it became a very important base for keeping in touch. You know, right now I'm starting to bringing into focus those names, but everyone of them, with maybe one exception, ended up in my governors campaign somewhere. Then while I was governor, it was still our organization, our side of the party.
BRENT GLASS:
Uh huh. Now when you say your side of the party, is that . . .
TERRY SANFORD:
That's what I always call the Democratic wing of the Democratic party. In 1972, there wasn't anybody running for office that hadn't been in that wing, running against each other now, which is good.
BRENT GLASS:
Do you think that's one of things that's emerged in North Carolina politics, the emergence of that wing of the Democratic party?
TERRY SANFORD:
Well, I can say it's emerged without particularly claiming any credit for it.
BRENT GLASS:
But it's been kind of a cumulative effect of the number of other people . . .
TERRY SANFORD:
I think that considering the kind of race that we had in 1960 which, in a way, was maybe the classic, or maybe historians will see it that way. We ran against the old guard, and we ran against Hodges' wing, we ran against the racist campaign, and we won against all of them. In 1972, everybody running for principal office had been a helper in my campaign—Skipper Bowles, and Pat Taylor and Reginald Hawkins, for that matter. Wasn't Reginald running then? In '72?
BRENT GLASS:
In '72? Yes, that's right. He ran in '68 . . .
TERRY SANFORD:
Robert Morgan, running for reelection as attorney general or running for attorney general, was an exception. But I had long since made up with him; in fact, he was one of my key people in the Scott campaign, so I counted him one of our crowd, in spite of the fact he was Lake's campaign manager. That was a diversion that grew out of the fact that he lived in Dr. Lake's house while he was going to law school. In any event, I think that wing of the party now is dominant. Now, it's breaking off, of course. But by and large, they're all forward-looking people people, and I think that's good.
BRENT GLASS:
The question in my mind is, did the roots of that wing start to form back in the late 40's or had that already been pretty well established?
TERRY SANFORD:
That was the Ralph MacDonald crowd. They had never achieved any success. They broke through with Kerr Scott, or Kerr Scott broke them through, more accurately. He was the person that was going to be the mover and the shaker. Then we couldn't have existed on that base alone. It had to be broadened. It was too much anti-town and anti-city. He didn't intend it that way, but they intended it that way. The bitterness that grew out of the people that he had defeated . . .
BRENT GLASS:
In '48.
TERRY SANFORD:
. . . in '48 narrowed his support considerably. In fact, we were lucky to win in '54. He had broadened his base somewhat by appointing Frank Graham, by bringing in a younger person like me—it could have been many people—but at least he had the sense to bring in a younger person that reached out for new people in addition to his old supporters. So all of that built up to what we did in '60, which brought it all together. You know, we brought the head of the labor union and Charlie Cannon both into our campaign. So we were beginning now to put North Carolina together. Then it got shattered by the racist thing that came on more or less unexpectedly. Had it not been for that, there would have been some considerable different story. On the other hand, that has to be a significant event in the history of the state because it's the first time that a racist campaign had ever been defeated. I'm talking about with a clean campaign, with a campaign that really didn't equivocate on the race issue. Now, it's true I wasn't standing up there saying we're going to put blacks in your living room, which Lake said I was, but I wasn't saying it. We held the banner where it ought to have been held, and we did defeat a racist campaign. We were free to move on with racial improvements because we had won on that issue, in effect. And then I think it's had its ups and downs. Obviously, we had a setback as I left office, partially because again of the bitterness that had come out of the campaign. Whereas Scott reached back for a younger person, I reached for a contemporary. I really ought to have reached forward to somebody ten years or so older, fifteen years older than me. If we had, if we'd picked Tom Pearsall, for example, which, in a way, I wanted to, but I couldn't get anybody to go along with me, particularly Bennett, but if we had picked somebody like him, I think we would have carried that tradition forward. Now Dan Moore was not a bad governor, not at all. As a matter of fact, he was a pretty good governor. True, he was not a very energetic political person. He didn't start a lot of innovative things. He didn't really kill off much that I'd started, and he kept a couple going when he had to step out and take some positive action to do it. The School of Arts, the Advancement School, I think both would have never gotten going if it hadn't been for Dan Moore. This was a reversion to the old wing of the party, however.
BRENT GLASS:
He did not come out of this Kerr Scott-Frank Graham-MacDonald wing?
TERRY SANFORD:
He more was in the Charlie Johnson remnants of the old Max Gardner wing. Charlie Johnson, incidentally, was one of my strongest supporters, in spite of the fact I managed Kerr Scott's campaign. Charlie Johnson was the assured governor that Scott beat. But he became a very dear friend of mine until his death. So there aren't any hard lines. You weren't registered in either wing, so you moved back and forth if you wanted to. And we were moving more people back. The trouble is, I overplayed our hand. I thought we had the problem of Kennedy, who really wasn't very popular. People now seem to overlook that fact. We were carrying a terrible burden by carrying Kennedy in this state. Looking to the '64 election, we should have . . . We picked Richardson Pryer, a terrific fellow, would have made a brilliant governor, as he's making an outstanding Congressman. But we just overplayed it. We ought to have backed off just a little, been a little more conservative, but with somebody that would have fit in. Now the truth of the matter is, there wouldn't have really been any reason we couldn't have adopted Dan Moore, except I didn't know him. Had I, by some chance, put him on some board, gotten acquainted with him, we might very well have been looking there, why don't we get this man? It just never occured to me that Dan Moore would ever get up the energy to run for governor. I knew him and I'd heard he was talking about it. The truth of the matter, I don't think he did. I think Mrs. Moore did. She's a remarkable woman, and I really think—and I'm not taking anything away from him—I think she had the energy and the determination, and that's something of course that I didn't know. But I never saw him as an enemy. He ran against me kind of like Reagan is running against Ford.