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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, December 16 and 18, 1986. Interview C-0038. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A positive campaign strategy wins Sanford a primary

Sanford offers a glance at his campaign strategy during the 1986 Democratic senatorial primary. In order to secure half the vote and avoid a runoff, he kept his campaign message as positive as possible, thus avoiding attacks from his opponents. The strategy worked.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, December 16 and 18, 1986. Interview C-0038. 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:
Did you have any doubt about winning the first primary?
TERRY SANFORD:
Well, I didn't because…
BRENT GLASS:
I mean winning with a fifty percent majority.
TERRY SANFORD:
Well, I think we had to spend money to be sure we did because while the polls looked pretty good, still that many people running would worry you. You know, just almost accidentally nine people could get a whole lot of votes, and two or three of them were pretty good vote getters. That's why we went ahead and put on a very well-planned and fairly costly television program because we didn't want to take any chances of coming under 50%. I think that would have been disastrous. In fact if I had, I would have been trying to figure someway to get out of it.
BRENT GLASS:
You mean just the fact of not winning the first time?
TERRY SANFORD:
Well, I think you would have failed to get the momentum that you would, that I had to have, to come in that way. So once we began to do that I didn't have any question that we could sustain it. We also were able to be very soft on our opponents in the primary and very careful not to offend any of them, and without any qualms gave up even campaigning in Mecklenburg County where we had three opponents. Well, they could hardly get mad with me if I, out of restraint and consideration for them, didn't even organize the biggest county in the state. It might have cost us a few thousand votes in the general election, that we were so slow getting going in the primary really. Then here was the summer. You can't organize Charlotte in the summer.
BRENT GLASS:
Everybody's up in the mountains or down at the coast.
TERRY SANFORD:
Well, summer is not a good time certainly to organize an urban county. We did fairly well. I think we ultimately did extremely well in Mecklenburg County.