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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, August 20 and 21, 1976. Interview A-0328-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Organizing 1960 gubernatorial campaign and quota system for fundraising

Terry Sanford describes how he assembled a team of associates to coordinate his 1960 campaign for governor and how he raised financial support. He relied on the networks of friends and colleagues he met through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the National Guard, the legislature, and through community service. He also eventually chose a non-traditional means of fundraising by requiring quotas from county managers.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, August 20 and 21, 1976. Interview A-0328-2. 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

I thought that by today, we had almost come up to the point where we had gotten you elected governor in 1960 and just one or two more questions about that campaign. First of all, how did you go about assembling a team to run the campaign?
TERRY SANFORD:
I didn't do it as well as Bert Bennett put together a team for Jim Hunt this time, because we didn't know as much as we know now. I had been gathering friends from around the state for a long period of time, not necessarily with any political purposes, but simply in various organizations and then when after the war, I pretty firmly determined that I would run, I began to try to keep an account of them in a more orderly way. So, the idea was, to some extent going back to our experience campaigning in Chapel Hill where we attempted to get a key person in each dormitory and then two or three key people around town. We called them that, "keys." I didn't get too heavily involved in politics at Chapel Hill but I was probably more engaged than the average student. So, in Scott's campaign, I attempted to develop that kind of a key, using primarily his people from the time when he was in the governor's office, but realizing also that one of the reasons he got me in the campaign was to bring in some younger and additional people that he hadn't been able to reach. So, again we used a key system of a dozen or so people who helped us in each county. But obviously, we couldn't count on them to get the people in each county, we had to get them, too. So, I would guess that my friends county by county, where we wanted a good organization in each county, were spreading out there into precincts. Theoretically, you would like to have a little committee in every precinct and in large precincts, you would like to have larger committees. So, my friends who helped in a campaign came from a number of sources. Basically, friends who were classmates or close-by classmates at Chapel Hill. Now, not all of them were for me. I can think of two or three notable exceptions that very much weren't for me, but most of them were for me. So, that would . . . for example, meaning Henry and Marie Colton in Buncombe County and then Bruce Elmore in Buncombe County would fall into a different category. He had been more active in politics whereas the Coltons had not at that time, but I had been in school with both of them. Bruce Elmore was more politically active and I had known him as a Young Democrat. I just use those two for example. In Charlotte, Paul Yountz, Colonel, later General Yountz, very active in the American Legion and that's where I knew him. He is a most powerful politician in Mecklenburg County and was largely responsible for my putting a very effective team together. Another person there was Senator Spencer Bell. Senator Spencer Bell had been one of the leaders of the North Carolina Bar and I got to know him when I supported the early efforts to reform the judicial system and I was active in that and he became interested in me and so when I started campaigning, he helped put together his part of the organization. He happened to also be an ally of Colonel Yountz. But out of the American Legion, out of such activities in the Bar, out of old school friends, out of Young Democrats that I have mentioned . . . now, in addition to that, I had been active in the National Guard and the National Guard is not a political organization but it contains to many people who have an active interest in politics. The general at that time, Claude Bowers, became my campaign manager in his county, just for example. In Wilmington, Colonel Hall, who had been a battalion commander in the North Carolina National Guard became one of my key people there. Sy Hall became my county manager in New Hanover County and he was a classmate of mine at Chapel Hill and law school as well as elsewhere. I had a number of people whom I had gotten to know because they were lawyers. I mentioned Spencer Bell because of a particular project, but there would be others who came to be friends just out of maybe practicing law occasionally. So, there might be several dozen of those around the state. Then, I was very active in the Jaycees. While I don't think the Jaycee organization is too good as a political base and it's not supposed to be, a great many of the leaders in the Jaycees aren't very good at politics, but I can think of a number of places where I picked up a supporter because of my association in the Junior Chamber of Commerce around the state. Then, I ran for president of the Young Democrats and I had all those connections. Now, take all of those people, many of whom I knew or had in the card index prior to Scott's campaign, then superimpose on that, or the other way around, the Scott organization, what he called "The Branch Head Boys." They were people, by and large, that I would not have been involved with. They were people that I might have had some difficulty in reaching. They particularly were valuable to have on my side when racism became a big thing in the campaign, because they were out in the rural areas where they, by being for me, would dispel a great many of those fears. Then, you've got to remember that I was in the legislature and while fellow legislators aren't very good in campaigning for you because they've got their own local races, still I can think of some notable exceptions where former legislators came very strongly to my support. So, just over a period of years, you accumulated a great many people and then putting them together in an organization that is political is another matter, but the hard thing is not that. The hard thing is acquiring them in the first place. You don't that accidentally and you don't really do it by design, because I don't think that I could have at all set out to have made those people friends purely for political reasons. I just made them friends over a period of time and then when I did decide finally to get into politics, so many of them joined with me.
BRENT GLASS:
In the process of just working on various problems?
TERRY SANFORD:
And in various organizations.
BRENT GLASS:
Right. Do you think that is still pretty much the formula for success in North Carolina? Do you think that's what Jim Hunt . . .
TERRY SANFORD:
I think that Hunt has illustrated that. He didn't have anything like the wide range of activities that I did, for lots of reasons. For one, he's younger and he simply hasn't been engaged in that many organizations, but he's gone at it a little bit differently. He's gone at it now for the past six years and it's been campaigning for office and being in office, which gives him a kind of a political base that serves a good purpose but one that I didn't have. So, he was very diligently moving county by county and because Bert Bennett was his chief key operator, he got into a great many of the same people who had helped me and helped Richardson Preyor and had been in campaigns that we have been involved in and in addition to that, he of course, has developed a wide range of friends on his own. He went to North Carolina State where he was very active in politics, including incidentally, my campaign. He has been active in the Young Democrats and the Democratic Party, having a good deal to do with the reform rules of the Democratic Party, so again, he was ranging around. He, more than I, moved from a political base. I, more than he, moved from what might be called a civic enterprise base, but it all comes back to knowing people who in a crunch are ready to go to work in a political campaign.
BRENT GLASS:
How about fund raising? How do you address yourself to that? It doesn't seem to me that you really had much in the way of . . . well, what kinds of contacts did you have?
TERRY SANFORD:
Well, we didn't have any big money people and we really weren't trying to get any. I had a very good fund raiser, Paul Thompson from Fayetteville, who is now dead. He was a classmate of mine and probably my closest friend over a long period of years, certainly my closest friend in that period of time until he died. He just had a way of going out and seeing people in a community and getting an old friend. We hadn't seen Skipper Bowles for a long time, so Paul went to see Skipper's older brother, John, who was a former roommate of mine and John, Paul Thompson and I worked together in the dining hall and Skipper was the younger brother, although we knew him . . . but Paul called on Skipper and over a period of months, we would get people together and get a hundred dollars here and a hundred dollars there and maybe one or two, very few, thousand dollar contributions. So, by the time you put together a great many communities, you put together enough money to get going in the initial stages. Later on, we rather drastically changed the approach to fund raising that's been used effectively by every campaign since then. The old way of raising money was for somebody like Bob Haines, who was chairman of the board of Wachovia, to raise a substantial sum of money. Now, in those days, a substantial sum of money would be anywhere from fifty to a hundred thousand dollars. That wouldn't get a campaign doing much in this day of the media campaign, and then they would send a few thousand dollars to this county and a few hundred to that and they would hire local workers or spend that money locally. Well, I didn't like that for a number of reasons. I didn't like the idea of paid precinct workers. It seemed to me that if you spent so much money to carry a box, as the expression was, that that was a very potentially corrupting situation and I wanted to get away from it and we all but got away from it. We did not eliminate it entirely, but with a few exceptions, we could change the system . . . (Interruption by telephone call. Tape turned off)
BRENT GLASS:
When you say in the old days, how far back do you mean?
TERRY SANFORD:
I mean when I was watching politics in the thirties to when Luther Hodges ran, that span. So, what we did, after we picked the county managers, we said, "All right, you've got a quota. We've taken the $150,000 that we need statewide and we divided it on a formula based on per capital income and population . . . ", well, as a very rough rule of thumb, that totaled to about 250,000 probably, knowing that we wouldn't be 100%, and we said, "This is your quota. You've got to send it into state headquarters and you've got to get it up locally." Well, they received that approach very enthusiastically and that's the way that we raised most of our money.
BRENT GLASS:
You mean that you would match what they raised?
TERRY SANFORD:
Matched nothing. We got all our money from them. If they needed ?3,000 locally, and we had put the quota of 1500 on them, they had to raise 4500 locally. Now, the great advantage of that was that never did you have to appeal to the special interests. You didn't have then the same statutory limitations on a single contribution you have now, and it would have been possible to get ?25,000 from somebody and you would have been heavily obligated. We weren't. Or it would have been possible that even if someone had gotten up $25,000 you would have been heavily obligated and we weren't. I have observed that most campaigns that have followed our quota approach since then, I think it's a very good change, so we are not sending any money out to be spent in the precincts.