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Title: Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., January 31, 1998. Interview C-0328-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Holshouser, James E., Jr., interviewee
Interview conducted by Fleer, Jack
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Kristin Shaffer
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2008
Size of electronic edition: 268 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2008.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2008-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2008-02-18, Kristin Shaffer finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., January 31, 1998. Interview C-0328-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0328-1)
Author: Jack Fleer
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., January 31, 1998. Interview C-0328-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0328-1)
Author: James E. Holshouser Jr.
Description: 343 Mb
Description: 77 p.
Note: Interview conducted on January 31, 1998, by Jack Fleer; recorded in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Unknown.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series C. Notable North Carolinians, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., January 31, 1998.
Interview C-0328-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Holshouser, James E., Jr., interviewee


Interview Participants

    JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR., interviewee
    JACK FLEER, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
JACK FLEER:
[text missing]
Governor, I am beginning with a series of questions on your personal political development and the political interests that you had in your very early stage. When did you begin thinking about a career in politics?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Actually Jack, I guess it was not really thinking about a career in politics. I don't think I ever really thought I was going to have a career in politics. I almost always considered myself sort of a short-term visitor and it got a little stretched out. I grew up in family where my father was involved, sometime another probably before I could read. I think he ran for the legislature. He didn't win. But he served on the local board of elections and went to party meetings and served on the state board of elections and ended up being a U.S. District Attorney during the Eisenhower administration. So I heard politics sort of talk at the house, not in a serious vein, but just as a casual part of life. It certainly didn't dominate the dinner time conversation in our household growing up. At least there was sort of a little public interest there. But at the time I went off to college, I was not thinking about politics. I was trying to get an education, find a good person to marry, have a good time. I was interested in sports, served as sports editor of the newspaper and the annual while I was at Davidson as I had in high school. I was seriously thinking about being a sport's writer. In the fall of my senior year in college I worked weekends with the Charlotte Observer sport's department and slowly but surely decided I

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enjoyed sports too much to have to make my living from it. If it got to be work I might loose what had brought me to it. So I ended up in law school and following my dad's footsteps joining his law office. And even in law school, didn't even in college or law school, get involved in the young Republicans and that sort of thing. I went to a young Republican meeting once when I was in law school and I was asked by a friend at Davidson to go to the state student legislature when somebody else got sick and couldn't go. So I did and I enjoyed that. So I had those little things but really not much. I guess my interest in government got peaked when I was in law school. The legislature was taking up reform of the court system at the time. We had several hours from our law class to go over and watch the legislature debate all of this. The professors from the law school were talking about it and I got interested in it. I knew that in the 1962 election there was going to be a referendum on the constitutional amendments that had been passed and that meant the 1963 legislature would start looking at that. I just decided I wanted to be part of that if I could. Being a law student and having looked at it, I was sure I had all the right answers of course. And so in late 1961 after I had gotten married that summer I started talking to my father about the idea of running for the legislature. He had come back from the U.S. Attorney's office during the summer and so we were practicing law together. He said if it was something that I was interested in he thought I ought to try. We had a Republican incumbent at the time. And so I talked to the party chairman who ran the hardware store downstairs below our law offices and so he suggested some things, people I should see in several precincts. I just sort of went about it analytically. I got the records out from past Republican primaries to see how many people came out and voted and where they came from and where I needed to concentrate time and people, and spent some time and got elected, got the nomination. I ran

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against the father of an old long time standing family in Boone, the Winklers. I dated both of his daughters and played bridge at his house.
JACK FLEER:
He was the incumbent Republican?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
He was the incumbent Republican senator, excuse me, Democrat senator. They had a rotation agreement on the senate seats at that time. So he rotated out of the senate seat and was running for the house on the Democrat side and so that part was interesting too. Had a good time. It was a good Republican year. So I did fairly well. When I got to the legislature as it turned out they ended up setting up a judicial commission, judicial reform commission, courts commission, I guess is what it was called at the time. So the 1963 legislature didn't do anything after all in terms of court reform. But I got interested in the fact that school boards in most of the counties at that time, particularly ours, were appointed by the legislator. The Republican and Democrats would have primaries and they would nominate folks and send the nominees to Raleigh. And the Democrats would always be appointed no matter who got how many votes or anything. And I thought that was pretty undemocratic. So I worked on some legislation that helped changed that for the county. We were getting ready to have a bond election for building a new consolidated school. That was at least part of what was important in helping that bond issue pass, making sure that both parties felt like they had a tie in and involvement with the public schools. So what started off as an interest in court reform sort of got broadened a little bit. Several issues came alone. I decided that I would run again because it was obvious the courts commission would be appointed and coming back at the 1965 legislature. It turned out 1964 was the Goldwater-Johnson Republican debacle and we lost half the seats we had in the house. The guy who had been the minority leader didn't run again. The guy who was the heir

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apparent lost and I ended up being the minority leader in 1965 sort of by default. That put me on the Republican central committee, which meant I was going to those meetings every month and got to know some of the party people around. When Jim Gardner decided to step down as party chairman in 1966, I was elected as party chairman.
JACK FLEER:
Let's go back and talk about a few of the things in a little more detail that you have mentioned in that wonderful overview of your early political development. You grew up in Boone?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
That is right.
JACK FLEER:
In Boone when you were growing up, did you get any encouragement from the environment there, any particular aspects that were beyond your father, to be attentive to and maybe eventually interested in politics? Were there any other influences in the family or the organizations or church or any others that might have influenced your political awareness, if not a career.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I don't know. My mother was still a registered Democrat. She didn't change her party registration until I ran in that first primary. She had to change in order to vote for me in the primary. Her father's name was Andrew Jackson Maybolt, which sort of tells you sort of how that family background was. Although I have to say she became a pretty avid Republican over time. But I had some teachers in the public schools in Boone that nurtured me along the way. I don't think necessarily toward government and public service so much as just as a human being. I believe that it would be stretching it to think that any of those folks when I was in high school thought I was going to end up being governor. When I got back to Boone

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and started thinking about politics I got some very active encouragement from people who were inclined toward that area anyway.
JACK FLEER:
That was after college, after Davidson?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Yes. One of my strongest teachers in high school was Margaret Wright who taught English. She was a neighbor up the street as well. Her husband Fred Wright had been Clerk of Superior Court for a long time and had taken a job in industry. He encouraged me. She told me one time after I got to be governor that he had told her back in the early 1960s that he thought I might end up being governor.
JACK FLEER:
Was it something that you had done in high school, serving in an office or run for an office, something that might have caused that to be in her mind?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I tell you in high school as it was in those days you really didn't run. I ended up being Senior Class President but it was one of those things where we had an election and somebody nominated me and I won. Nobody ran then. I had been in charge of the junior senior prom for the junior class, which my mother did all the work and I think everybody knew that would be the case. But it came off very well. I was in a graduating class of 1956 as I recall anyway. Different kind of culture and atmosphere than you have today with the larger high schools and active campaigns for class officers and that sort of thing.
JACK FLEER:
But even in a sense by being identified by somebody out there who felt that you could take charge of this responsibility. There might have been some hint of leadership.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well what happens in a class that small is that some people end up doing several different things. Whereas in a large class some people don't get to do anything and very few people do more than one thing. And I was involved in the band and in the chorus and

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played on the baseball team and tried to play basketball. Didn't play very well. Ended up keeping the score book for football and basketball, well just basketball in high school.
JACK FLEER:
Was there any political event in those early years that remains in your mind as being sort of a early political awareness that sort of impressed you in a positive way, about public service?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well I remember how down my dad and my Uncle Howard were when Dewey lost the 1948 election. That is really the first election I remember much about and I don't remember a lot about it. My dad was an alternate to the national convention in I guess Chicago in 1952 that nominated Eisenhower and that was sort of fascinating. There was a big picture on the front page of the Charlotte Observer of the North Carolina delegation meeting with Eisenhower at the convention. My dad was standing right next to Eisenhower looking up at him. But he had been a Taft man. So we gave him a pretty hard time about that when he got home. But I suspect that Eisenhower/Stevenson election in 1952 was the first one that I paid a lot, a fair amount of attention to. When I was in college, in the fall of 1952, 1 believes the fall of my freshman year, Charlie Jonas came and spoke to the Davidson chapel programs. Chapel at that time was a required mandate for the whole student body. Everybody was there so it wasn't like a small thing. And we had a discussion in whatever class it was I had right after that about how everybody perceived his talk and all. That was his first run for Congress. But at the time of the 1956 election I really don't remember very much about that happening. If I think back to 1956, I graduated from college, I worked with the Marriott at the hot shops outside Washington during the summer, came home and was ready to go to law school and then picked up this problem with my kidneys. So I ended up sitting out a year, actually lying out a year in

Page 7
bed, trying to see if they could just rest it into recovery which it didn't. And the most I remember out of that year wasn't politics. It was Don Larson's perfect game on my birthday and watching the Carolina ball club on television. That was the first year they had much television when they won the national championships. Actually they didn't have a lot of television then but some.
JACK FLEER:
Regarding your family, you mentioned that your father had been involved in politics and you were sort of taken by some of his experiences.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Although I have to say I didn't know very much about most of that experience. Even when he ended up being named U.S. Attorney in 1958, 1 didn't know all the background. I was in law school at the time. But I read a book written by Kyle Hayes a lawyer from North Wilkesboro. He died a couple of years ago. His secretary sent me a book that he had written. It had an account of the pushing and shoving for the federal judgeship that Edwin Stanley ended up getting and then the nominations for U.S. Attorney. And it was sort of like opening up a whole new world that I had missed back there.
JACK FLEER:
So that book sort of filled you in of some of the developments. I was leading to the question of how would you place your family in the social hierarchy of Boone. What kind of family did you see yourself as being a member of at that point?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well my dad was a lawyer and my mother was very involved in a lot of different things, all volunteer stuff. She organized a mother's march on Raleigh about public schools in the 1950s I guess.
JACK FLEER:
What was the issue that she was involved in?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I think it was teacher's salary probably.

Page 8
JACK FLEER:
I see.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I didn't remember about that. My sister was telling me about that and I think it must have been while I was in college and my sister was still at home. But my dad was the Clerk to the Session and elder in the Presbyterian Church, helped organize the Presbyterian Church in Boone. In looking back I would say we were part of what, our family would have been part of if you're trying to get a group together say that was the leadership of the town. We were probably in there. Although I never thought about it at the time and I don't think my father thought about that as any kind of thing to aspire to necessarily. Boone at that time wasn't and may still not be, I don't know, a very social minded town. I mean if you go into eastern North Carolina there is a whole different sense about social life and families. And I think part of that is because so many of those families go back to the revolutionary war and before. Whereas in the mountains everybody just sort of trucked up there you know. But I don't remember my family being very much involved in the social affairs to the extent that Boone had any. I always just thought that we were part of the town.
JACK FLEER:
But there were, you would say as you mentioned, in the certain leadership cadre of the town as far as anybody might have thought about there being a leadership cadre of the town? They were active in the church and in the schools and in political circles.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Yes. That is right. That is right. If you were going to get a group together and talk about trying to help bring a new industry to the town, my dad would have been one of those usually involved. And I never did have the sense that he did a lot of business other than law business. You know a lot of lawyers do a lot of real estate development on the side. But he never did very much of that kind of thing.

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JACK FLEER:
Would that firm had been a prominent firm in Boone?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well it was Holshouser and Trivette, but Gene Trivette was in North Wilkesboro. It was a partnership only to the extent that occasionally in significant criminal or civil trials the two of them would get together. Both of them ran their offices separately as a separate profit center and just kept what they made except when they worked together. And up until about the time I was in high school I guess, there was just two of them. Bill Mitchell joined the North Wilkesboro office not too long before Mr. Trivette had a heart attack and died. That was while I was in college. And at that point when Mr. Trivette died I think the firm dissolved and Bill Mitchell had his office in North Wilkesboro and dad had his and it was just a practice. There was not much firm about it.
JACK FLEER:
I see.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Give you some example about how the bar was. At the time I went to the governor's office, there were only, I think, six lawyers in Boone.
JACK FLEER:
Interesting.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
And when I came back four years later, I think there were 48. And when I went to Boone from law school in 1960, there were four lawyers there and I made the fifth one and my dad came back from U.S. Attorney's office to make the sixth. There were no additions then until we brought in a partner in 1969 I believe.
JACK FLEER:
So that was very good growth, particularly for a while. At college when you were at Davidson were there any political experiences there that you thought were particularly formative or impressed you?

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JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Hardly any. It was an experience. It was a very good experience for me. I met a lot of good people, had a lot of good professors. I think it helped build on the value system I had coming out of the mountains and my family and community. It helped sort of expand the scope of the things that you are supposed to be interested in. At the same time I know that I didn't apply myself as much as I could have. I don't know if you want to make it a part of the public record or not but I spoke [Recorder is turned off and then back on.]
JACK FLEER:
Were there young Republican or any kind of political organizations that you were aware of when you were at Davidson?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
There may have been but I didn't pay much attention. Politics just really wasn't my thing at the time. I can't remember going to a single political event while I was in college. I contrast that with my daughter when she was here at Wake Forest. She helped organize a visit by Gerald Ford or George Bush or somebody, probably George Bush. Let me think about that, I think that was when Bush was running for Vice President in 1984 maybe. Of course Ginny had a very different growing up experience than I did. She had politics all around her from the time that she was nine until she was thirteen when we were living in the Governor's Mansion. We had pretty well kept here out of our political involvement up until that time. Pat did go to the legislature with me in 1963 and again in 1969 1 believe and stayed home the other two times. But those two times Ginny was along but she was still so young. Just five years old that last time I believe. So that didn't have much impact but obviously that period in the Governor's Mansion did.

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JACK FLEER:
So at Davidson you didn't find a whole lot of political stimulation so to speak. You were interested in other things. You then went to Carolina immediately, UNC Law School.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Right.
JACK FLEER:
And you mentioned earlier this particular episode involving court reform that you think might have sparked an interest at that time.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I think that was a law interest as opposed to politics, that I thought that, everything I heard when we were discussing court reform and a need for it when I was in law school. The law professors talked about how much North Carolina needed to have its court structure overhauled.
JACK FLEER:
The law professors brought that up?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Yes. I think that is what stimulated the interest in that issue. Not in the legislature per se. But we watched Spencer Bell and Lindsay Warren. Spencer Bell, a lot of interesting thing about that, Spencer Bell was a very erudite guy from Charlotte who didn't get involved very much in the good old boy network within the legislature in Raleigh. Lindsay Warren was part of the traditional eastern group. They called him the "Lion of Beaufort" as I recall and was very much an orator. I never did know him. Never did get to meet him. But you had the clear impression that Spencer Bell had the right, was on the side of the angels and the other people were just being obstructionist. The most fascinating thing to me in going to the legislature in 1963 and 1965 and watching these issue debated is that I had come there with the impression that there were some people who were either idiots or operating from totally bad motives if they were on the other side of certain issues. And much to my dismay and

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enlightenment I found that they were not only not idiots but were really genuinely concerned about issues that I hadn't thought. While I didn't change my mind, I didn't think their issue overweighed my side, I couldn't, I had a whole new appreciation for what politics really gets to be all about.
JACK FLEER:
So it didn't produce in you any cynicism or turn you off from politics at all?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
No.
JACK FLEER:
Which could well have happened, couldn't it?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
That is right. I was pretty naïve when I went to the legislature the first time and pretty young, was just twenty-eight and had a crew cut. The first day on the floor in the house one of the senior legislators asked me to take his bill up to the clerk. He thought I was a page. That was, that lets you down sort of hard.
JACK FLEER:
I was going to say, in some stages that was a complement, but not at first, when you are first in the legislature. Well back to that experience at UNC Chapel Hill and the Law School and the Court Reform Commission. Why do you think you became interested in that particular issue at that time? Was it your anticipated career as a lawyer?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I think it was. I can still remember writing down the answer to a question from the State Bar Examination Committee about why I wanted to be a lawyer. And it was basically that I thought lawyers were in unique positions to help make better communities to help people and particularly in times when people got their lives and property entangled and needed somebody to help get them straightened out. I believed that then and I still believe that. I am not sure all the lawyers believe that today, unfortunately. But by the time I had taken the bar exam or was taking it, I was really viewing lawyering as sort of a public service career itself.

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Not as just a way to make money. I think a lot of people have gone into law and medicine as well from the standpoint of making money and that is not good.
JACK FLEER:
Did you take any action at the time of this interest in the court commission? Did you for example go to Raleigh and speak on behalf of some side?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Didn't speak. We had a group of a half a dozen of us that went over to watch the Monday night session. You know the legislature met at noon, I think on the Tuesday to Thursday schedule of course that is why I couldn't go because of classes. But we usually tried to go on Monday nights as that session went on in the spring of 1959, I guess it was, and watched that debate.
JACK FLEER:
So you were mainly an observer but you were paying attention to it. You didn't become active in any way other than going to hear the debates?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
No and actually that was maybe a sign of the times in that I don't think it had occurred to us that we should do that. Although when I think back to some of the things that have happen within the university over time, it wasn't very long after that, and you had some before that, but it wasn't very long after that, that you did have students taking more active protest kind of roles, advocacy roles.
JACK FLEER:
When you went back to law school did you talk about that subject with other students or with professors?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Yes, we did a lot and not to total neglect of all the other subjects you were suppose to be looking after, but it was something we should have been interested in as law students. And it was only a 45 minutes drive to Raleigh and even on old NC 54, which is pretty bad, going over in the evening wasn't that bad.

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JACK FLEER:
When you talked about it with other students, or with your professors at Chapel Hill, did you take a position or were you mainly in the mode of trying to explore this topic and trying to understand it?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I think the professors tended to come down fairly strongly on the side of the need for change and gave a little short shrift at the time to the arguments against it is sort of my memory about it. I may not be giving them enough credit. And if I look back at the concern the people had who were opposed to, they were afraid "Raleigh" was going to take over the whole judicial system of the state, which is sort of what has happen. But at the time we had such a mish mash of recorders courts, mayors courts, county courts and all sort of things, that you couldn't go from one county to the next and even know what kind of court you were going to be involved in. And there is no question that the justice of the peace system needed reforming. I think you are much more likely to get justice today under that system than you were in what we had in the 1950s and before.
JACK FLEER:
So you still saw this primarily as the environment in which you saw yourself as a lawyer trying to understand that environment and maybe even improve that environment rather than just taking a political issue and running with it?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Exactly. Andy Jones was in the Attorney General's office when I was a freshman legislature and he drafted the bills that I introduced. We got to be friends and had a fair amount of conversation along the way. He ended up being revenue secretary under Governor Scott. But he said one time, "I just wouldn't be governor. You lose about a friend a day when you start making appointments and it's no a win situation." I often think about that
JACK FLEER:
He said that while you were governor?

Page 15
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
No he said that while I was a freshman legislator. And that was something I didn't forget and still haven't forgotten as a point that you have to take into consideration of how you approach the job as governor
JACK FLEER:
Were there any other sort of public affairs experiences or political experiences before you were governor that made any lasting impressions or is that pretty much the most important experience that you had as a law student?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I think so, I think so. That clearly has always stood out in my mind as how I started getting involved because I never really intended to have a career or be involved. It just sort of happened, got out of hand.
JACK FLEER:
You didn't become involved in political rallies or attend party meetings or I think you said earlier become a member of the Young Republicans at that time?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
No I went to one Young Republican Convention.
JACK FLEER:
I see.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Not a convention. It was a meeting being held in the law school of the law school Young Republicans. One of my classmates asked me to go and I went. It was in the spring of our senior year I think. I think Bill Cobb was the party chairman and I think he spoke that night. It was interesting.
JACK FLEER:
It was your senior year in law school?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Right. But I don't remember that having a particular impression. I think I remember it because it was only one. If I had been to several others I probably wouldn't have paid much attention, but. If you figured that your train of thought had moved from being a sports writer to being a lawyer, it never really occurred to me that I was going to end up being

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involved in politics. And even though I spent four years as governor, I didn't stay in after that in the sense of continuing to run for things or being appointed to things. I still sort of consider myself as being a volunteer in that regard.
JACK FLEER:
Okay. Well let's talk some about your more obvious political activity. Let's talk a little about that legislative experience that you had. First of all you mentioned earlier that you decided in consultations with your father to consider running for the legislature. Why did that occur? Why did you have that thought?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I think it was strictly because I thought that court reform issue was going to pass at the referendum. The legislature had approved it in 1961 and it was going to be voted on in 1962. I was confident that it was going to pass and the 1963 legislature would start to implement it. And the legislator we had from our county then was a mixture. He was a lay preacher, a stone mason, a farmer, did several things. But there wasn't anything that I could see that said he was going to be a lot of help to the legislature and work in court reform. And it was because I was young and naive a little bit. I didn't think about how outlandish it might have seemed to some people that, you know, a year and a half out of law school you are filing for the legislature, given the fact that I had never been involved. Now you find people today who are running for local offices while they are still in college. And times have changed in that regard. So this is a different kind of time.
JACK FLEER:
But you saw yourself as being interested in a particular issue, the court reform issue, knowing once again that this would affect your career. Whatever happened on court reform would affect your career and sort of in a sense that was your kind of meaning. I don't mean to be putting words in your mouth. Is that a fair statement that that was your motivation?

Page 17
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Yes and you know I probably didn't look of it at the time because I wasn't thinking about a political career. But if you think about odds, meaning the odds of my having a political career, coming out of a county of less than 25000 people, out of the mountains, Republican at that, and that just wasn't a background from which people got into political power positions.
JACK FLEER:
Now, what made you think once you decided that you were involved in that important issue of court reform that you could in fact win that election or did you?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well I didn't know. That is what my dad and I talked about and the party chairman Clyde Green, our guy in the hardware store, had been an active politician for a long time. He had been involved in the agricultural stabilization work under the Eisenhower administration. He had been a political appointee to it. A paying job so to speak. My dad told me to go and talk to him and see what he thought.
JACK FLEER:
He was the Watauga County Party Chair for the Republican Party?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
That is right. He didn't get publicly involved in that primary but I think he contacted some people and asked them to help me because a lot of people that I didn't even know welcomed me with open arms. I have to say that we talked about family and our role in the community. I think I got a lot of benefit over being my father's son and having the same last name.
JACK FLEER:
Although he had run for the legislature you had mentioned and not succeeded.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Yes, in the 1930s. But I have to say and this doesn't need to be part of this record but back in the [Recorder is turned off and then back on.] Democrat primary for sheriff, the winning candidate in a very close primary carried Cove Creek Precinct which is a strong Democrat precinct over

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on the Tennessee line. There were more votes cast than there were registered Democrats. The SBI was called in and eventually that precinct was thrown out and the other guy was named the nominee. The precinct chairman whose son was the registrar had supported the winning candidate who got disqualified. In September or so word starting getting around that he was endorsing me for the legislature.
JACK FLEER:
He was a Democrat.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Yes. He was under indictment at the time and I went, I heard about it and I went tearing downstairs to see my guy at the hardware store. He told me something that I have never forgotten. I said what am I going to do? I can't have this guy endorsing me. I ought to do something when he is under indictment. He said son, once they go into the ballot box they all look the same. But any rate, the SBIs opened the ballot box. The registration book and the poll book all disappeared between the primary date and the time the SBI was called in. They had been there about ten days hunting the ballot box among other things. I was standing down in front of the hardware store one morning and saw the SBI people going up Main Street in a pickup truck and they clearly had a ballot box in the back of it. They had found it out in a barn loft out near Foscoe and got up to the courthouse and opened it up and the ballots were for Roosevelt and Wilkie in the 1940 election. It had been there for 22 years at that point.
JACK FLEER:
So was this sort of knowledge, not only that you had, but presumably had been publicized in the community, that there were problems in the conduct of elections a source of encouragement for you in thinking about running for the legislature?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well I think that background and the stories that I had heard and what happened in that particular spring primary did to me what it has done to an awful lot of people from the

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mountains. It makes you sort of paranoid about having the votes counted fairly. And it all came back on election night in 1972. Because about 11:00 p.m., we're ahead but we are not ahead a lot. There were two counties, pretty good size counties, that would probably be pretty strong Democrat counties, Rockingham County and Pitt County. Didn't have a single precinct reported. And I turned around to our campaign manager and I said you get on the phone to some people down there. They are holding those precincts back to see if they are going to have enough votes to overcome it and if they are, there are going to be some extra votes coming in. I remember that just like it was yesterday.
JACK FLEER:
It made a big difference in your life didn't it, what happen there?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Yes it did.
JACK FLEER:
Being in the legislature, can you tell a little bit about your experience. You were one of few Republicans.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
That is right. I believe we had 21 the first year I was there. Then in 1965 it dropped down to 11 or 12 or 13, somewhere in there, just next to nothing. I really loved the legislature. It was really fun; the challenge of trying to persuade enough people to your point of view about something on the committees and even on the floor at times. I was one of those freshmen that probably talked more than I should have. Asked any question that came to mind. If I didn't understand something I would just ask it. I decided early on that you are never going to get the answers if you are afraid to embarrass yourself by admitting you are ignorant.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I would ask in the legislature and you were lucky if you got local bills through particularly if they had some political nature. The Democrat chairman from back in your home county would be down talking to people saying we just don't need this or whatever.

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That issue of local school board elections was one that involved just a huge amount of my time almost the whole session trying to get something that would work that our state senator who was a Democrat would go along with. It was obvious that he was talking to the Watauga County Democrats. He had a heart attack and ended up in the hospital in Winston-Salem about the last month of the legislature. So I am talking to him on the phone at night in his hospital bed. But we finally got it through I think the next to the last day of the legislature for a nonpartisan board but elected locally.
JACK FLEER:
Now is that something, the school board selection process, that had that been one of your platform planks when you were running or is that something that developed subsequent to your winning?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
It was something that I had not been aware of until I got back home from law school and just listening to people talking. When I saw that process happening in 1962, seeing those people running for the school board and listening to my father talk about it. Didn't matter who won the Republican primary because the Democrats were getting nominated anyway. That kind of thing. My dad tended to have a pessimistic attitude which was just the result of all the years of trying and not getting accomplished some of these things. On the other hand I went to the legislature not paranoid and prepared to believe that I could get something done and I would just overwhelmed them by my persuasive personality or whatever. And it showed me looking back, that half the time believing that you can get something done is half the job. Start off believing and it can.

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JACK FLEER:
You mentioned that 1) you were part of a fairly small delegation, 2) Republican legislation didn't have much of a chance unless you could persuade some Democrats to support it, but you also mentioned that you loved the legislature.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well I did. It was intellectually challenging and I enjoyed the give and take. And I enjoyed the company of the legislators. Sometimes you find out things later that disappoints you. Young Sam Ervin, the judge and son of the Senator, was a legislator there and we went down to see a lot of Davidson ballgames. That was when Fred Headsal was playing at Davidson and they ended up on the cover of Sports Illustrated, number one team in the country preseason in '65. I found out later that some Democrats really got on Sam for going to the ball games with me because I was Republican. It was just not good for his career to be seen that much with a Republican.
JACK FLEER:
This was other members of the legislature?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Yes, talking to him. And I don't know that they meant to be bad so to speak. I think they meant to be giving him good advice. That is just how Republicans were viewed at that point.
JACK FLEER:
Well, were you able to accomplish whatever goals you had in the legislature sufficiently to your satisfaction?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well, the goals were modest to start with. But what happened was I got on the appropriations committee and ended up spending four terms on the appropriations committee. So you got to see how the state was spending its money and in what areas and what made sense and what didn't. By the time I was running for governor, I knew a lot about the state budget. I was one of the first Republicans, maybe the first Republican, to have not only been in the

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legislature but had been in it long enough to understand the issues enough to be able to talk on your own bases your, own knowledge, about the overall state spending. Don't mind you leaving that on but I wouldn't want it to appear in print but Mr. Stansbury was over at the Department of Revenue. He was the one who calculated the state's revenue estimates and everybody sort of looked to him as the last word. And I had a lot of conversations with him off and on during our term. He told me one time what I thought was the highest compliment anybody said; he said, you know more about budgeting that any governor that I have known. He had been there about forty years at the time. I always thought budgeting was the key to the governors being able to succeed. Because almost anything that you wanted to do cost money, not everything but a lot. But at any rate if I look back now I doubt that I had very much impact on that budgeting process or those first couple of years in the legislature. But it got your interest stimulated and challenged you. You started to see some things that you hadn't seen before. I would also find that something, two or three things, would happen each time that would make me so mad that I would say I just can't let them get away with that. I am going to run again kind of thing.
JACK FLEER:
Have a chance to undo it the next time or something? Beyond budgeting and your extensive experience in that, were there other issues when you were in the legislature that you became importantly involved in and made a contribution from your perspective?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well it is always hard to know about your contributions on things. Redistricting became an issue while I was there. I don't remember whether it was 1963 or 1965 when the Renn Drum law suit here changed things for North Carolina for ever at least. Because at that point you know you had one legislator for each county and you had twenty legislators spread among the largest counties and senators districts? And it was obvious that that was going to

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change the political landscape when that started having to be done. I ended up in four redistricting sessions during the time I was in the legislature just because, of that. You know the first time or two the courts threw out what we did, a little federal plan. By the time you are the minority leader or been the state chairman, that gets to be a matter of major interest.
JACK FLEER:
You became a minority leader in what year?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
In 1965.
JACK FLEER:
And chairman in?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
In 1966.
JACK FLEER:
In 1966 so you had been in the legislature roughly three years.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well you didn't serve in the even numbers.
JACK FLEER:
Right, right.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
You served in the odd number year and that was it at that stage and so I had had one year in the legislature and one term and then became a minority leader.
JACK FLEER:
And then would that be considered a fast rise or just good luck. How did you become a minority leader?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well I was elected secretary of the caucus my first time which could have just easily been somebody else and I still don't have any idea why and it didn't mean hill of beans. The secretary didn't do anything; it just made a nice article in the paper back home. And I think I probably wouldn't have been state chairman had I not got elected minority leader in 1965 and I wasn't scheduled to be minority leader at all. And I think that was just, I can't say it was lucky. It was a result of bad luck of the Republicans in the 1964 election.
JACK FLEER:
I see you became one of the more experienced or

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JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
You can't say more experience because I had only one term.
JACK FLEER:
That is what I was saying.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
The people who had had more experience didn't want to do it.
JACK FLEER:
Well as the minority leader did that put you in circles in the legislature that you would not have had the opportunity to participate in and therefore give you, say a fairly significant, significantly different experience from other Republicans?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well what it probably meant looking back is that the speaker if he were going to do anything even in a minimal way to acknowledge the Republicans would have ended up with me doing it. And I was named vice chairman of a couple of committees. I was put on the special joint appropriations subcommittee that was the predecessor of the "gang of eight" kind of thing, much larger group, probably twenty at that point. And a tradition I am thinking has not been good for the state that we got away from. I think having the house and senate having joint committees and bringing in one budget to the floor of both houses during that process worked very well. I doubt we are going to go back to that. It didn't mean I got involved in any "leadership" conferences because Republicans were just never involved in it.
JACK FLEER:
But did it put you among Republicans in a position of some notice and publicity?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Just barely. I got a little bit more notice that everybody else, but everybody else got noticed so little that that wasn't saying much.
JACK FLEER:
Some of your experiences, you are suggesting that Republicans had difficulty getting legislation passed. There wasn't much of a critical mass to get much done. You didn't get much notice. Could have turned you off about participation in the legislature?

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JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Some of the things that I had said earlier sort of kept me coming back just out of sense of not quite moral outrage, but just sense of indignation. At the same time I found that both in committee and on the floor there were times when amendments got accepted simply because what I was saying made some sense and you knew how to write it down in such a way that it fits as opposed to having an idea but not being able to quite get it into focus. Just the advantage of being a lawyer as much as anything. I think being a lawyer in the legislature gives you a clear advantage in that you are dealing with general statures that are the nature of your business. And when I think about it in those terms I have to say, I have to agree at times with those that say watching how the general statutes are created is sort of like watching hot dogs. It is not so pretty sometimes and you lose a certain amount of respect for the general statutes that you had when you came out of law school that this is the law because you see how sloppily and crazily sometimes these things get done. But it is not for lack of effort. Most of the times it is just because things get overlooked sometimes in the speed of things. But I did find that there were things that I could get done. I always went home with the sense of accomplishment even though I was frustrated with things that I didn't get done. And in the 1971 session by that time I had gotten to know all of the senior people real well. Even if I was Republican and even though they disagreed with me on things in the past, I think I reached a certain level of respect. And at least recognition that I knew what I was doing sometimes. I think I probably drew the 1971 redistricting plan for Congress. Simply because I had played around with all the numbers and drawn the lines on 100 maps and came up with one that was going to protect the key Democrats in such a way that you could get all their house people supporting that. And I showed it to one of the Democrat legislators on our house committee. We were both on it. He took it and introduced

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it as his own the next morning. It passed out of the committee that day over the objection of the chairman who was trying to help Nick Galiafinakis keep his seat. It went to the floor and passed the next day. And I think overall that probably in terms of personal accomplishment that I knew was my product, that was probably one of the key things. But the thing that I remember most about all four experiences in the legislature was the higher education restructuring in 1971. I had had people encourage me since the 1969 session when we fought back and forth on the Scott tobacco tax. I had gone on statewide television and around the state and all who had been encouraging me to think about running statewide. In 1971 when the higher education restructuring came along I got very involved early on. I went down to see Jimmy Carter in Georgia about how they had done theirs. He was governor of Georgia then. Talked to Cotton Robinson who was the operating person for their university system. Actually I talked to Carter more about the restructuring of state government, reorganization of state government, now that I think back about that when I went to see him about higher education. But Cotton Robinson was down there, Jay Robinson's brother, later Chancellor of Western Carolina. I asked him if he would be willing to come up and speak to our legislative committee about how it was done in Georgia. Bill Friday had encouraged me to call him and bring him in as a resource. If you look back at the books that have been written about that session, Bill Friday was using a lot of different people and playing a lot of different cards. I am sure I was just one of them. I think that Cotton's coming started the movement away from the essentials of the Warren Commission plan towards what was eventually adopted which was having a board of governors which is the governing board as oppose to the older higher education type coordinating board. And I think it just made all the difference. You remember we had a special session in the fall to finish dealing

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with that. And I was over an hour late for the first kickoff campaign for governor up in High Point. Bo Calloway was coming in to speak, but we weren't finished with that Friday night thing in the legislature. The whole thing just ended up in near chaos over at the furniture market in High Point waiting on me to get there. I mean it was in a matter of one day you would have the regional universities mad with you and the next day you had the consolidated university mad with you. Partly because they were changing positions along the way. But if you kept right down the line saying this needs to be a governing board and you started off with some kind of balance of representation on it with the two groups, that is what made sense. I still think personally to the extent that I made a contribution there that may have been the most important contribution that I made to the state.
JACK FLEER:
Keeping that on the road to the Board of Governors?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Yes, as oppose to anything that I did when I was governor.
JACK FLEER:
You obviously picked up this new responsibility as party chair during the time that you were serving in the legislature as a minority leader. How did it come to be that you went in that direction as party chairmanship?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well as minority leader I had been on the central committee as I had said and I got to know the people there, the district chairmen as well as the state chairman and other statewide officers. And as minority leader I had been asked to go around and to speak to different Lincoln Day dinners and that sort of thing during the previous year. Jim Gardner had decided that he was going to run for Congress so he wasn't going to seek reelection. I didn't really seek it. I had people come to me and say we think you ought to do it. So I said okay and then we ended up in a battle, a battle at the state convention with Nab Armfield from here.

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Good guy from all I know. Older guy, about my age now. I looked for a while like I might not win. A couple of people, who were key, said, I think you ought to pull out rather than go to the end and get beat. And I said well if I pull out now it is the same as getting beat. So lets just let it go ahead. It turned out that we had enough votes and won. But we really didn't know when the votes started whether we had enough votes or not.
JACK FLEER:
Were there factions or particular groups that you had to coalesce or that you couldn't get the support of during that battle or was it mainly personal organizations?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well it was mostly the old guard versus the new guard kind of thing. The folks in the mountains and the people who had been involved in the party for a long time had asked me to run. Jim Gardner and the folks around him, the new Republicans so to speak, were the ones who were the ones who were encouraging and trying to help Nab. It was just sort of a prelude to the things that went on for another ten years or so I guess and maybe are still going on to a lesser extent.
JACK FLEER:
Could you describe those, sort of the composition of what you see as those two groups, the old guard and the new guard? Were there any issue components or ideological components?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I think Goldwater's campaign in 1964 ignited a lot of interest in the Republican Party all over the South. Even though he only carried five states, I guess there were a lot of people who came into the Republican party because of that campaign and who ended up as leaders, congressmen, governors, state chairmen over the next decade in particular. Because they hadn't had the background of the past, there was just a different approach, may be a better way to say it. A lot of times the issues, their positions on different issues, weren't that different than

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other people who had been there. But just a little bit more hard nose, a little bit more impatient as opposed to the populist kind of Republicanism that had been in the mountains and foothills and in a few odd places like Sampson County; some of it left over from the Civil War I think.
JACK FLEER:
So you didn't see any clear ideological differences in the party at the time, even though the Goldwater experience was very recent.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I think it was more personalities. Now political scientist would argue with me about that perhaps and I can see some philosophical differences. But the lines weren't nearly as well drawn then, as it seems to me that they are today at times.
JACK FLEER:
The lines within the Republican Party?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Right. Although, there are several different lines in the Republican Party. There is not just one. I believe that it was more over power and control than it was philosophy, personalities involved. There may have been those who thought that the old guard was more interested in post office politics and patronage when we won the presidency than they were in getting out and winning elections. Now that certainly wasn't the case for me. Life was too short, I thought, to be involved in things if you weren't going to win. I mean that may be for some people it just wasn't for me.
JACK FLEER:
Were there beyond these ideological, or possible nascent ideological components, were there other groups beyond what you referred to earlier as the old guard and new guard that you had to be concerned about during that election and in fact while you were chairman of the party?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well during the time that I was going to state conventions in the 1960s, we had a fairly vocal group that would come to our convention who were members of John Birch Society.

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They would always come in with a specific set of resolutions that they wanted to see the convention adopt. At first it really bothered me and we would have some knock down drag outs.
JACK FLEER:
Publicly?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
On the floor over the resolutions. Because they always stepped it out one more notch over issues that people weren't use to talking about for the most part. And I finally concluded though that resolutions adopted at a state convention didn't amount to anything more than at most a sub-headline in the next day's paper. After that they were forgotten. And I finally just said I wasn't going to worry about them. Let them introduce them at the tail end of the convention when the resolutions got looked at. If the convention adopted them, fine; if not, fine. I just wasn't going to worry about them. Made my sense about the convention much more comfortable.
JACK FLEER:
Did that cause you any difficulties while being chairman or did it in fact garner you new friends or at least respect?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I think that people recognized from the early dealings with these resolutions that I was not going to be supportive of the resolutions but at the same time they started coming to the same conclusions that I did because some of us talked about it that it wasn't worth having all these fights about. I think it was part of a goal I had at the convention of Republicans that we were too small to be fragmented. That we needed to find that 90% of the ground that we could agree on and just not worry about the 10% until we got to be a majority. And I think looking back over time I have a real sense of not personal accomplishment, but a real sense of having been part of an historical evolvement of change within the state in terms of building the two party

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system because I think that has been healthy. And the state will be better off for it in the long run.
JACK FLEER:
We want to explore that some later. I would like to start talking to you now about your process of deciding to run for the governorship. Would you talk a little about when the idea began to take form, who were some of the important people who you talked to, how you went about making the decision?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well I wouldn't recommend the way we did it to anybody. Part of it was my own weaknesses, my own personality in that I tend to want to think things to death. One of the things that I have learned along the way in life and in politics is that there are some times when it is better to make a decision one way or the other even if it is the second or third choice. If it is implemented well it is better than nothing being implemented at all. Nothing at all is not too good of English. When we had the fight over the tobacco tax and I got some statewide publicity about that in 1969, I started having people talk with me about it some. But I have to say that I don't believe that I ever viewed myself as a person who had gotten drafted for anything. That it was always because I decided that I wanted to do something. Also I have an awful hard time making up my mind. I knew we had never elected anybody statewide in my lifetime anyway. At the same time it was obvious from the numbers that we were coming closer and closer. It wasn't going to be long, but you just didn't know. I had looked at the possibility of running for Lt. Governor with Gardner in 1968 and just decided not too. You didn't have people encouraging in the sense that they think about these now days. Because at that point, not many people really believed we could elect a governor. I have had good friends tell me later how they had talked with me during the campaign in 1972 and that I would leave and they would say he's really a

Page 32
good guy it is a shame he can't win. And I never did take that as a slight or a slur or anything because I think logically they had every reason to say that. But I also believe that timing is the key to everything. That if you are at the right place at the right time, you may not be the best fellow for the job but you might find yourself getting elected anyway. I thought in 1972 that I was the best guy running but I thought there was also a lot of other people that would make better governors.
JACK FLEER:
Who were not running?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Yes, for a variety of reasons. But I also look back and see that for a period of about six years I was the main spokesman for the Republican Party because I was the state chairman and the minority leader, or the caucus leaders as the case might be in the legislature. So any time a reporter wanted to get a Republican Party response to anything I was the guy he was going to call. The first poll that we did in early 1972 showed that I had a recognition, name recognition of about 25%. You contrast that with Hugh Morton's name recognition of 3%. This is a guy who had been in business all of his life. He has had Grandfather Mountain and ties in Wilmington. A lot of people knew him. I saw his son, Hugh Jr., off and on as we crossed paths here in the early stage of the primary before they dropped out. He was telling me that they spent $50,000 which was good bit of money at that point, and did one of these campaigns where you go into every single county over a sixty day period and took another poll and his name recognition had gone to 5%. And that recognition is very hard to build absent a lot of money spent on television. We had the good fortune of starting with a fairly decent name recognition simply because that five or six years of involvement as the state chairman and minority leader. And I guess a fair amount of that came out of that tobacco fight.

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JACK FLEER:
Now you mentioned you were determined whenever you got into a battle you intended to win if at all possible.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I use to have a dream about waking up on election night and I had lost by five votes. I knew that I hadn't done everything I could and would always end up in a sweat.
JACK FLEER:
That timing was important. Can you talk a little bit about timing? What it was about 1972 that made it, in your mind anyway, possible?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well if you had looked at the pattern of voting, Bob Gavin in 1960 had the first significant statewide campaign. You had other campaigns by Chuck Seawell and Kyle Hayes prior to that time in which men had given a lot of time and energy but the soil hadn't been cultivated enough. We didn't have enough organization and we didn't have enough money, didn't have enough credibility, to have a chance. And you could see in the 1960s. Gavin didn't do as well in the 1964 as he did in 1960. That said to you that national tide tends to affect the state. You could see in the 1966 election, my first one as state chairman, in February it just looked dismal but by the time the fall came along all the food store prices were irritating consumers and Vietnam War was starting to irritate consumers and people. We elected practically everybody we had on the ballot and in places we could have elected some others if we had more. So you knew that the national tide affected North Carolina's local races and statewide races. I sort of found that out early on in the 1964 election. I started getting calls from people in some of the precincts, "You have got to come and see Joe Jones. He says he just ain't going to go vote. He can't vote a straight ticket and Goldwater is saying he is going to take his social security away. You have got to talk to him." And so I would go out there and say, "Don't vote for Goldwater if you can't.

Page 34
Come on vote for the local ticket at least." But you saw the impact, had a bad year; we had a bad year in North Carolina. In 1968 Nixon had carried the state. While we didn't carry the state for governor we came very close, better than 48%. It appeared that Nixon was going to carry the state again in 1972 and there was a pretty decent chance. And as the state chairman, I had had a chance to spend a fair amount of time in Washington with state agencies and with some in the Congress, not much, and in the White House as well. So we had got to know people who might be able to help come in to help campaign. And so over time we had sort of built up a network. I knew a lot of people around the state because I had worked hard as state chairman going around. I would leave Boone and drive down to do a luncheon in Wilson for twenty women and drive all the way back to Boone on a Saturday.
JACK FLEER:
Did you know when you were making those trips around the state that a governor's campaign was a possibility?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
No, wasn't thinking about that really. It was strictly a party building effort at the time and probably did it in a way that was less intelligent than I would do it today in looking back. But it made a lot of friends for me. I would have probably been more selective in the places I had gone and not drained myself as much as I did in trying.
JACK FLEER:
But it probably did contribute to your name recognition being where it was at the time?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
It did. It did
JACK FLEER:
And also made you contacts in the party and probably friends and persons who might be indebted, so to speak to you.

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JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well you didn't think of it in those terms. I probably would today. I know people in Washington who come here to make a visit for somebody and expect them not to forget. I have always been naive and I never did figure that I was obligated when somebody did that. But I did get to know the county chairmen and a lot of precinct chairmen. In the key thirty counties that turned out half of the Republican vote, I knew almost all of them. That meant even though Jim Gardner started off as having been the party standard bearer in 1968 and had come close. I have always thought Gardner was one of the more charismatic guys on the stump that I had ever met. Still think that. We knew the organization people and I knew how many votes were going to get cast in the primary and how many we had to have and where they need to come from. We are sort of getting off track a little bit but I remember climbing literally over a mile right up the side of a mountain to see a lumber jack who had a saw mill going up to Wilkes County. The county chairman was right there with me. We saw him and we carried that precinct something like 135 to 12; no it was more than that because it was a big precinct. It was more like 175 to 30, or something, anyhow about 90% of the votes. That is the kind of thing we had to do.
JACK FLEER:
And you mentioned timing. When I asked you the question about sort of elaborating on that, you mentioned primarily historical timing. But were there events or circumstances in 1972 that made that a year in which you felt it was possible to run successfully?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well you always sort of roll the dice on timing. Because as I said if you decided at the time of the filing deadline in 1966 what it looked like for the fall of 1966 you might not have run. But if you had rolled the dice and decided it was worth the gamble, it was a sweep year and you were going to be there, even if you didn't really work very hard in some cases. But you knew that Nixon was an incumbent president who was going to be running for re-election and

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Muskie looked pretty strong. But I had a lot of help from the White House. Harry Dent who had been the South Carolina state chairman and had coordinated the Nixon campaign in North and South Carolina in 1968 was in the White House. He had been a good friend and adviser. He didn't think I could win. He called me and said, look I know that you are trying to make up your mind whether to run or not. Would you be interested in coming to Washington as General Counsel for the Navy and the Navy did need a General Counsel. I probably wasn't anywhere close to the best-qualified guy to be general counsel. I am a decent lawyer but I think he just didn't want me to get in and get beat. But any rate on the timing thing, it was obvious to me that I couldn't keep going in the legislature. The legislature paid enough money to pay the bills back at home and you are working about half time in the law office. It got you some cases in the law office where people had a DWI and if they could get it carried over for six months to a year that was just a little bit longer to have a license. If I were their lawyer and was gone to the legislature, the judge would carry it over. We only had three criminal terms a year in superior court. Didn't have any inferior courts to amount to. The judicial reform had set up district courts but Watauga's district didn't join that system on the phase in until 1971 or 1972. So if you got by one session of superior court, you were off for another four to five months.
JACK FLEER:
So you could help somebody out but it didn't take you too much time or effort to do it.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well what it meant was you got some clients you might not have had other wise. People who were just looking for anybody. But what I started to say is all I was doing is barely paying bills. I wasn't building up any bank account at all. It was just clear that you could just

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keep on this treadmill and just run yourself to death. And I told my wife I said either you have got to get out or I have got to get in on a full time basis.
JACK FLEER:
So in making this decision in addition to talking to your wife were there other significant persons that you consulted?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Of course, Gene Anderson had been the Executive Director of the party since 1966. He was interested in my running. That was just because he would like to have, he would like to work for a governor instead of the state chairman. His ambitions for me were a natural part of all that encouragement. More than likely he encouraged me more than any body else. But I had some legislators encourage me to look at it too, friends who had helped fight some of those fights and I knew them probably better than anybody else.
JACK FLEER:
Of course you ended up in a primary battle, in fact two primary battles with Jim Gardner which were very intense, highly publicized and in a sense might had reflected those divisions that you had talked about whenever you were elected party chair. Did those become an important obstacle?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well a lot of people didn't think we would win the party primary. I mean that first poll we took showed we were down two to one.
JACK FLEER:
Within the Republican party?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Yes and I was personally convinced that if you had taken a poll on primary day it would show we were down 20 points probably. But you knew that less that half of the Republicans were going to come to the polls and you knew where those folks were going to be and where you needed to go get them. I still have a pretty good memory about the primary night of the first primary. We started off slightly ahead and it was very obvious that as the whole

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evening went along it was going to be very, very close. He pulled ahead late in the evening. By 1:00 it was a dead heat but he was maybe 1000 votes ahead. That was unofficial and you just didn't know where you were going to come out. And it was also obvious by late, late that night that probably those other two guys that were running were going to get enough votes to keep either one of us from getting over 50%. As it turned out that was right. But because everybody sort of expect Gardner to win, it was like we won even though we came in second and so…
JACK FLEER:
The expectation argument, so to speak?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
That is right. So we announced early on the next morning that no matter who won we expected a run off and we looked forward to it or something no matter who came in first. It turned out I think we were about 1300 votes behind and the other two guys had about 2000 votes.
JACK FLEER:
Did it continue to be what I referred to or I referred to earlier as sort of this nascent ideological division or was it something else that you think was at play here?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well I think it was mostly personalities with some overlay of who could get elected. Because while Republicans didn't think we could win, they wanted to have the best chance we could. Gardner had come close. But a lot of people who supported him in 1968 in the primaries against Stickley had gotten a little bit disenchanted by the end of the election when he flirted around with Wallace people so much. 1968 were an awful hard time to run because of the Wallace factor primarily. That is another one of those timing things. I am awfully glad I wasn't a candidate in 1968.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

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JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I think probably we won that primary because we were able to persuade enough people that I had known personally, not just by letters or whatever, but I had been in their towns and I helped them organize their campaigns and I helped them recruit candidates. We had come in to speak for them during rallies. They knew what kind of person I was. And they just decided I was a known quantity that they thought would be a good candidate.
JACK FLEER:
Were there any issue differences that you thought were important within the Republican Party that made a difference?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well one of the things that we did here in the Spring campaign was to put out a sort of a tabloid size newspaper, I can't remember what it was called, something like the Victory or something, headline on it, "Nixon Trusted Him So Can You." And part of that idea was to play on the fact that Gardner had started off with Nixon in 1968 and then switched to Reagan and had the reputation by the time the election of having flirted with Wallace. We had a big picture of me shaking hands with Nixon in the Oval Office and played a lot on our ties because I had helped Nixon campaign a good bit in 1968. And talked about the accomplishments in the legislature, introduced the drug abuse legislation that I had worked on really hard. Again on the idea of trying to get it just right, we had waited too late to get it introduced. It never was seriously considered even if it would have been earlier which I doubt. But I think there were people in the West who thought Gardner had the best chance to win but there was a little bit of East/West thing, but there were people in the East who helped me and I think it was still more personalities than philosophy per se.
JACK FLEER:
I have to mention for future listeners to this tape, Richard Nixon was very popular at this stage.

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JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
That is right.
JACK FLEER:
And this is prior to the emergence of any of the Watergate matters related to Mr. Nixon.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
As a matter of fact following the two primaries, we had a Republican executive committee meeting to replace Frank Rouse as the party chairman. He had resigned after the first primary to work with Gardner in the runoff. The day of that meeting was the same day as the Watergate break-in. Another one of those spooky things that you remember.
JACK FLEER:
So that obviously it was to your benefit to say that Nixon trusted you or you hoped it was to your benefit.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
That is right. And you know Nixon wasn't going to take a position personally in state campaigns. Just didn't do it. But he wasn't going to run me off either and we just played it to the hilt the best we could.
JACK FLEER:
I remember during this time there was a lot of discussion about whether it was desirable to have in the Republican party an intensely fought primary like the one that you and Mr. Gardner did in fact experience. How would you assess that issue now?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well it was very hard on the two candidates and it left some scares. At the same time, by the end of the second primary the next poll we did my personal name identification was 52%. So it more than doubled because of the primary.
JACK FLEER:
The first primary.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
By the time of the second primary. And we probably would not have won in 1972 had it had not been for the primary because almost all of the major newspapers endorsed me in the primary. They viewed Gardner and Jesse Helms as the right wing. We don't have a

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left wing in the Republican Party. I was more in the middle, but moderate conservative. And so it got some of them at least thinking toward me. I got the endorsement of the NCAE in the primary. They endorsed Pat Taylor who lost. So they chose not to endorse anybody in the fall, so we got a lot of teachers' support. When you start looking how small the margin was in November, there were just a lot of places you can say made a difference. But that was, the primary definitely made a difference and it got us acquainted with some people whom at that level were for us. A lot of them couldn't vote in the Republican primary. But it meant that it was a little easier for people to be for us in the fall. We got some major newspaper endorsements that the Republicans had never gotten before in the fall.
JACK FLEER:
In the fall election. Now, it could have caused serious wounds within the Republican Party.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Yes and I think it did.
JACK FLEER:
Did it?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
But at the same time, Jesse Helms had won the primary and that was three way primary as I recall. So you had, everybody had somebody to be for. There were a lot of joint rallies along the way and the party pulled together once that state executive committee was out of the way in June. The party pulled together for the fall campaign really well. We had a meeting every Sunday afternoon, the presidential campaign staff and the Helms campaign staff and the governor's campaign staff. Everybody merged the staffs for field people out there. So that the Helms and Holshouser people really sort of really piggy backed back on Nixon's campaign's surplus money which got them in all that trouble. But we benefited from that significantly, I think.

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JACK FLEER:
Was that unusual to have that kind of coordination, when those three do occur at the same time or even two of them, like a presidential and a gubernatorial campaign? Was that an unusual level of cooperation?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I think it was. You probably wouldn't have that much going on today. Of course before that time, we just never had an occasion when you had those three races up with viable campaigns going on at the same time. See North Carolina hadn't carried the state for president for the Republican since 1928, I believe.
JACK FLEER:
Right, right. Now you mentioned that once you got past the two primaries and was in fact the nominee of the party that you began to coordinate with the presidential and the U.S. senatorial campaign of Senator Helms. But you also mentioned that in a sense Senator Helms was representative of the faction or component of the party that you had just defeated in the sense that, if I am understanding this correctly, it was a more conservative element of the party. Can you talk a little bit about that or did I misread?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
And it tells you it is awfully easy to want to make that simplistic and want to make broad generalizations and it doesn't really hold because there was an awful lot of people that were for Helms and for me also in the primaries. Sim DeLapp and Charlie Jonas you recall had been the co-chairs of the Helms campaign and they both endorsed me in the runoff. If you looked around at the Helms' chairmen in the western part of the state in particular, there were an awful lot of those that were involved in our campaign in the primary.
JACK FLEER:
In the primary?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
So you can't really say that there were these two camps out there that were so well defined that there wasn't any overlap or cross breeding or whatever. It just wasn't so.

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JACK FLEER:
And yet you had taken in a sense from what you mentioned earlier and had developed a reputation as being sort of a moderate Republican, a person who was open to listening to other peoples' ideas and Jesse Helms had at that time I think still today, had to some extent of a reputation as being a more ideological candidate. Was that a source of difficulty in coordinating these campaigns?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well it's sort of a funny thing. I don't keep up with all the votes in Congress but I have the impression that Senator Helms and I are a lot closer on 90% of the issues than most people would ever think. Our styles are just very different. I am not nearly as confrontational as he is. I always viewed myself as somebody who tried to build a consensus, which means some compromising along the way. I think Jesse has also over the time he's been in Washington has become a very skillful compromiser to get the key elements of things that he thinks are important. That wasn't as apparent early on and frankly it wasn't as viable a strategy because when you a minority trying to build a consensus is much more difficult than when you are majority.
JACK FLEER:
Why is that?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Because you don't have the votes. And when you are a committee chairman it makes a lot of difference. And I think in my own experience one of the things that I have found as governor was that because I knew the legislature and the legislative people and as importantly they knew me. They knew that I would stand by what I said and I knew which ones would stand by what they said and which ones wouldn't. We knew how to build a consensus in the legislature even when we didn't have a Republican majority there. And I think that was very important in having some success in legislative programs.

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JACK FLEER:
When you devised this coordinated campaign or at least working together with the presidential and US Senatorial campaigns, what kind of message were you as a candidate or the Republican party trying to put across? What do you think were your major appeals?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well let me simply say that the coordination of those three campaigns didn't have anything to do with what the president was going to be saying, or what Jesse was going to be saying, or what I was going to be saying. The candidates out on the stump were still doing their things? This was just coordinating to make sure that the field men were getting, were making sure that rallies that had to be done here were well prepared, that the candidates got in to the right number of counties and the right number of times and that again, looking at those numbers, where the votes had to come. That is a little bit tricky because Jesse's votes were going to come slightly different than mine. He had to carry some large Piedmont counties. But he was counting on a lot more votes east of Raleigh than I was because those history books just didn't lie about what kind of votes you could expect. We were counting on sizeble number of votes going down US 70 corridor from Raleigh to Morehead City, counting on the coastal thing around Wilmington and Brunswick counties and then here and there we had spots. But I knew if I was going to win it had to be mostly from Raleigh West building up the majority to overcome what we knew would be a minority vote overall east of Raleigh. Our people east of Raleigh just had to do their very best to minimize that shortfall we would have.
JACK FLEER:
So you did not try to coordinate appeals or messages in the candidates' talks. Just looking at your own appeal, what were you trying to do, what were you saying that you thought would bring voters to your side?

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JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
You know it is sort of funny. Sometimes your recollection will play tricks on you because you always remember the things you want to remember I guess. I think, I think we, maybe without thinking about it, talked about things in such a way that people knew that if I got elected that the world wouldn't come to an end or state government wouldn't be turned upside down by incompetence or radicalism. But they didn't know what it would be like, but we wanted them to feel comfortable with their votes, and we wanted them to feel like it was time for a change. That the Democrats had been in too long. No matter what any particular Democrat candidate might be like, he was still ham strong by the fact that the whole structure of the state Democratic party and the state government were so intertwined that it would be hard to untangle for a Democrat. And in a sense, it was really saying elect me because I am a Republican.
JACK FLEER:
Now you said that you wanted to make them comfortable with you and that you wanted to convince them if possible, that it was time for a change. And yet presumably Republican candidates prior to you may well have used a similar kind of appeal and no Republican candidate had ever been successful in the century prior to that time. What made you think that that was going to work this time?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well all you can do is give it your best shot you know and hope that it works. If I had to do it over again even knowing all of things that I know right now I would still go about that same strategy. We didn't know that Nixon was going to get about 70% of the votes. But I told a lot of people that George McGovern was really the best campaign issue I had without even knowing it. And when you are carried in on a landslide, a lot of people get carried in that aren't qualified. We saw that in the 1966, no the 1962, elections. We got some people in the legislative delegation that probably shouldn't have been there. It causes us problems. But I have

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also been around enough that I have seen an awful lot of really fine people get out and run a really good campaign and just not seen the light of day. It just wasn't the year in which you could do it and time wasn't ready. That happened in 1970. Nixon tightened up on the economic strings and we were in sort of a recession. People still vote their pocketbooks and their kids more than anything else I think and always have. That is the reason you see Clinton's poll still right up there is spite of everything. You didn't know for sure, even in the summer when we didn't have any money or didn't seem to be raising any and the polls showed that we were down something about the same we had been with Gardner about 52 to 26 in August. We spent most of July just hitting every courthouse in eastern North Carolina because we knew that we weren't going to get back to many of them until after the first of September. Didn't want them to not have seen me at all. Plus, there wasn't much else you can do in the summer time. But I felt if you were going to be governor you have got to be governor of all the people and you ought to give everybody a chance at least to get a view or to ask you a question if they can. So starting about the time of the national conventions, we saw the polls start to move about 2% a week. We had spent about $15,000 for a statewide poll back in February. It showed us that we were so far behind that we should not do any more, shouldn't waste any more money on polling. Just ran as hard as you could for the finish line and concentrated on organization. Spent next to no money on advertising. Maybe we had $50,000 in television exposure, which is next to nothing. Had some really mean advertising that just never got viewed by much of anybody. We came out of both of those, all three of those campaigns, with the public feeling like we had run a very clean campaign. But I have always been convinced that part of that is at least because we had some hard hitting ads but nobody ever got to see them.

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JACK FLEER:
A modest solace?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
It is just honesty. But you could see the movement starting to close. Remember you had a Democrat convention; no it wasn't in '72, it wasn't Chicago nightmare, it was some place else.
JACK FLEER:
1972 was McGovern convention.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
That is right. He just didn't have much appeal and I still have memories that I can't understand. In Chapel Hill our headquarters was right next to the McGovern headquarters. Every time I came into our headquarters in Chapel Hill just to shake hands and give people encouragement. You'd walk down the street from wherever you parked the car and here are these cars with McGovern stickers and Holshouser's stickers and I have never to this day figured that out.
JACK FLEER:
But you were grateful.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Every little bit helps. Just like my hardware store guy said, once they go into the ballot box they all look the same.
JACK FLEER:
Now another thing that had happened during that year was that there was a very intense primary battle within the Democratic Party.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
That is right.
JACK FLEER:
And did that make a contribution toward your eventual success?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
You know I said earlier that there were all sorts of things that you could say that made the difference. We won by less than 40,000 votes out of a million and a half approximately. Pat's getting out on a separate campaign schedule and getting us some extra exposure made the difference. The fact that the NCAE didn't endorse anybody because they

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picked the loosing candidate in the primary gave us some help there. We had some key Republicans who were in Winston- Salem/Greensboro area who were involved with AT&T unions, we got some union support that Republicans just hardly ever got from union rank and file except those who were registered Republicans. And we got some black support. Black support went from about 3% to 13% because we went in and asked for it in a lot of places. We talked with them and told them that frankly I knew I wasn't going to get huge amount of black support, but when I got elected I was still going to be governor of all the people and that included them too. And we tried to do that after the election. But I suspect that I had to pick one thing, two things that caused it to be a successful election, one was the overwhelming Nixon move and the other was the fact that the Democrat primary went the way it did. Pat Taylor was Lt. Governor, everybody expected him to win. Jack Fleer and Bowles just did a masterful job with their television campaign encouraging young people to be involved in their campaign in the Spring. DeVries and Lance Tarrance had written a book right before that and they followed that right along. You pick you a media market, you poll in that media market, and that is where you do your advertising. And they followed it and it was just successful as can be. It was a textbook campaign. But in the process I think Skipper got overexposed. As a result he needed strategically to wait and do his television only at the end of the fall, but they started it Labor Day. I know I met a lady in 1974 from South Carolina, Spartanburg, at some meeting some place and she said "You don't know me from Adam but I want you to know I sent you $25.00 during the campaign because I got so tired of seeing your opponent on television." And I think that was one part, a partial result, of that primary. It also clear that the Democratic party never got itself back together after the primary.

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JACK FLEER:
Was there anything that you could do to contribute to that inability or did you just let it happen?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well we didn't do it an organized way like we should have. We didn't know as much as we know today. If I had known then what I know now, I would have had every Pat Taylor campaign person on the list to get a phone call from me within a week after the election, of the primary. In some cases we knew who the Taylor leaders were in certain counties and I would always try to see them if I were in that county. I went to see Pat Taylor personally. I didn't expect him to come out and endorse me or anything.
JACK FLEER:
But you had known him from the legislature.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Yes, right. And I think he was a good man, is a good man, would have made a good governor. Although he would not have been able to overcome that intertwining of the things that we have talked about. But I have been told that there was a big meeting between the Bowles' people and the Taylor people in the early summer after the second primary. They said that there was going to be room enough at the table for everybody. But everybody understands the Bowles' people will get the white meat. It just made the Taylor people mad as hell and a lot of people left and just never got on the bandwagon.
JACK FLEER:
And even if they didn't vote for you, the fact that they didn't vote for him?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I think some of them voted for me and I know they sat on their hands where trying to help with the campaign was concerned. You could see that in some counties where Taylor had run really strong and where Bowles ran significantly behind the historical tradition in the fall.

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JACK FLEER:
So you had a divided Democratic party and a very strong presidential incumbent, a ticket in North Carolina that in a sense was broad on the Republican side, in addition to these other factors a lot of things had to come together to get those 40,000 or more votes.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
That is right. And looking back I think our main job was not making any mistakes. Giving people a comfort level, by talking about the things about state government that I knew that I thought could be improved and I knew first hand from having been in the legislature. And I think that is what got us the endorsement of the Charlotte Observer and Winston-Salem Journal. Although there may have been a little Machiavellian madness running around in the newspaper. They were so scared of Jesse Helms that they were afraid that if I lost and Jesse won, that the Republican party would just take a gigantic swing to the right forever and that it would not be good for the state. So even there, I temper my appreciation for them by the fact that they were, and some of them said that it was important that this part of the Republican party is so strong.
JACK FLEER:
Do you think that those endorsements are important?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Absolutely. Some people say that if you get the newspaper endorsement that you have done something wrong because they don't think the way that the average guy on the street thinks. But there are a certain number of people in every reading area or viewing area that are going to follow the lead of the paper or the station.
JACK FLEER:
Let's explore one final thing about the campaign and then I want to give us a chance to take a break. You talked a little bit about the woman from South Carolina that she sent you $25.00 and the fact that you had large numbers of very good ads that never saw the light of

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the television. Talk a little bit about financing and what you learned from that experience about campaign financing. How you go about doing it and what you learned from it.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well when we had the first meeting with this group that the Attorney General put together several months before to talk about finance reform, I hold them that I really didn't belong on that committee because our experience had been so bad in raising money that the problems that they were trying to address just weren't problems that I had ever had to face.
JACK FLEER:
This is the "Better Campaign Commission" that you and the other governors worked on?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
That is right. The fact is you know it again is just the fortunes of war and the luck of the draw and the way things are. We finished that campaign not being obligated to anybody. I mean nobody. I mean we raised less than $200,000. By election day, we had spent less than $400,000. We had to raise more after the election than we did before the election. If I had lost I would have been ten years paying it off at least. But as it was it was paid off by inauguration day. But I also told our fundraisers; I said look we have gotten this far, we don't need to become obligated now. We got the job so don't take more than $1000 from anybody. As a result I had the luxury of probably that nobody has in this day and time. Now I think, I think things have changed but at the time I was running in the early years of the pacs and this sort of thing, I always knew that you were likely to get financial support from people who gave you that support because you were representing the ideas that they believed in. Our own experience in 1972 was that people gave us so little chance of winning until George Little took over the finances and fund raising oh about six weeks maybe two months before the election, I guess about six weeks. I think he raised more money that last six weeks than we had up to that time.

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Because out of that $200,000 less than we had raised I had put in $50,000 on my own that I went out to the bank and borrowed and took the second mortgage on the house. We had decided that we were in for a penny in for dime, that kind of thing. That if you are going to go, you are only going to go one time that you had better do the best that you can. I think it was only in the last two to three weeks before the election that people started to really think maybe I had a chance and then some money started to come in.
JACK FLEER:
So your interpretation from what you said earlier about your belief that people gave money to persons that represented their ideas and the fact that you didn't get much money would be not that there weren't people out there who supported you but that they just didn't think you could win. They wondered whether you could win.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
That is right. And some people gave the money even when they weren't sure that you even had a chance just because they were loyal or whatever. And we had people give us money that said they couldn't publicly support us and some of them probably didn't even vote for us. I don't know. I think things have changed in terms of fund raising because I get the sense now that too many people are trying to buy access and that it shouldn't be necessary to have to buy access. It ought to be there. And with presidents, you have only got so many hours in the day and there are just not that many people you get a chance to see you. We said to the black leadership, to union leadership, not leadership really, people, that while there were issues that we wouldn't agree on that I would always be open to listen to what they had to say. That implied that they would have access to come in and talk and I didn't view that as any big deal. I just thought that was part of the job, listen to people with different points of view. I didn't realize at the time I was campaigning, I think the one surprise after inauguration day was how many

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people wanted to see you and how few people you could see in relative terms and how many people wanted you to make a hands on decision yourself as opposed to having a cabinet member or department head or whatever to do that.
JACK FLEER:
Related to your idea about campaigning and financing and the possibility that you might have lost because you didn't have adequate financing, there is a argument in the campaign finance debate that the current system does run that risk. That legitimate alternatives and legitimate views are not given the light of day because of the absence of funding.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Yes, I know and as much as I was a victim of that absence in a way, I still have a hard time bringing myself around to a public financing approach. I just sort of believe that campaign place is a little bit like the market place that if you got a good product that it ought to draw contributions. Now I grant that circumstances vary from place to place and in our case we were sort of in an unusual situation because we just hadn't elected anybody in 70 years, 72 years, 74 years. But today a Republican and Democrat candidate probably start off even in terms of fund raising. If they are good people to express themselves well and have some vision about where the state ought to go they ought to be able to draw money. At the presidential campaign level or the congressional campaign, senatorial campaign level, that is the same thing tends to apply. There are some states where you are going to have a clear leg up if you are a Democrat nominee or a Republican nominee as the case may be. But public financing in those cases probably wouldn't make that much difference. I think there is probably a more viable argument for public financing when it comes to congressional elections because of the advantage of incumbency. Doesn't have anything to do with party and that pacs in particular are afraid not to give to incumbents. They have a clear advantage of being in Washington, being able to have as

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many receptions as they want to and as much contact with lobbyists as they want. Challengers just don't have that. I think it is very, very hard to beat an incumbent. The statistics are pretty clear that 90% of them that run for the election get elected. And if you look back at 1994 even the Republican swing then had more to do with people not running again than it did with a huge swing.
JACK FLEER:
You mentioned that you did not or you told George Little not to take contributions greater thana $1000. I guess that was late in the campaign or after the campaign.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
After the election.
JACK FLEER:
You did not have that kind of limit prior to the election.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
No and I am sure that we got some contributions of more than that. For instance Marvin Johnson down in Duplin County with the chicken poultry thing down there was one of our bigger contributors. It made it hard for me to send George of all people down to see him sometime in the first year or two to tell him if he didn't get his stuff cleaned up and quit dumping stuff in streams we were going to have to shut him down. At the same time part of it was that we decided early on I had seen the state chairman, I had seen some candidate get so involved in the mechanics of the campaign that they didn't do their job as a candidate. We decided early on that we were going to have to have some strategy meetings here and there, that I was going to be the candidate and Gene Anderson was going to sit in Raleigh and do the schedule for the staff and the schedule for me. And I went on the road six days a week and when and where they said to go and I would know if they were screwing up but we both knew what we needed to do. So I was just a candidate. I wasn't worried about fund raising except I knew we weren't getting any money in.

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JACK FLEER:
You weren't worried about it in one sense but did you have somebody working on it other than Gene Anderson?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Yes. Gene didn't work on it. Gene did the mechanics of trying to get campaign organizations set up in each county, having field staff go around and coordinate to make sure that the county coordinators were doing what they were suppose to do and when I was going to be in the county that they had the maximum impact from that visit that we could. We had three or four different guys that took on fund raising responsibilities over the year. And it was a struggle all the way through.
JACK FLEER:
Now you said that you didn't become obligated to anybody at least in part because you had so little money. As you know that is a continual concern I am sure among public leaders as well as among the public generally about obligations and campaign finance. I guess my question is how do you avoid becoming obligated?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well, I think you start from ground zero that the public has the best chance of having an independent representative at whatever level they are talking about from county commission up to the White House, if they start with the right kind of person. And I think when they say and a lot of people are saying right now, and this book is being written for generations not for this month, that you can separate private character from public character, I am not sure that you can do that at all. Your overall characters is who you are. I found that in the legislature. We didn't have any where near the kind of situations that you do now. You went to a lot of dinners and receptions the first month and the first six weeks that you were there and then they were over. Co ops would do a thing, truckers had their thing. They had their room at the Sir Walter the whole session they were there, then moved out to the Velvet Cloak or the Hilton or

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someplace along the way. But I always viewed that I could go to somebody's dinner or eat trucker's food and I didn't feel obligated to them a bit. I mean I figured it was their chance to get acquainted with us and I always viewed the lobbyists that should be a source of information. We had some bills where for instance, there was a bill that was going to let the, maybe it was Twin Trailer Bill, where the railroads could be hurt by that and truckers were for it. So you would sit down and talk to the lobbyist for the truckers and say why is this a good bill and then you would sit down and talk with the railroad people why is it a bad bill? And you pick their brains the best you could and end up making the choice yourself. Now if an office holder feels like that in order to keep getting re-elected he has got to have a certain amount of money in the till each time and the only way that you can get it is to get it from people and that he is willing to obligate himself in order to get it. Unless it is something he is only obligated himself to what his views are already, then he has done everybody a disservice, including himself. Because that means he is up there representing a view different from his own just because of financial circumstances. And it may be I am still too naive for politics I don't know. I just don't believe you have to do that.
JACK FLEER:
And I suppose in a sense the magnitude of the entire campaign finance situation has changed so much since you ran.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
There is no question about that. When I ran for the legislature the last time, I had run three times before, I had a primary twice, well the last time I had a primary. So I had had two primaries and four general elections, was unopposed in two primaries, was unopposed in one general election. Only in that last race, that last year, did I spend more than the filing fee plus gas money and maybe about $50.00. The first campaign I got some little cards that I took around to put in country stores and filling stations and that was the one thing that I spent other than my

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filing fee and gas money. Just driving, I say gas money, my gas money driving around. I had the father of a former girl friend give me $25.00 and that was the one contribution that I go and that was sort of how the campaign was.
JACK FLEER:
But as we know from the research and the publicity now we are talking about campaigns for the legislature that are hundred of thousands of dollars.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Our state senate campaign, two campaigns ago, at least one of the candidates spent about $175,000. In urban campaigns it is almost a given that you are going to have to raise that much money and I think in the Wake County races they raised close to $300,000. Of course what that does is that it lets them put a fair amount of advertising out on television or do a lot of direct mail. I personally have a lot of mixed emotions about the change that's happened. I always believe that campaigns have the ability to help the officer holder by getting out and listening to people. At the same time North Carolina has got a lot more people today than it had when I ran. If I saw and met a thousand people a day that's still only 350,000 people approximately in a year.
JACK FLEER:
That's a lot of people in a day.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
That is right and to do that every day. When you are just meeting them that is not really doing much more than letting them see you. You can reach them a lot more over the tube and it is with a lot less effort. There is not question about that. But I am not sure that you can adequately reach enough people on a personal way today without spending the money for television to get your ideas across.

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JACK FLEER:
And of course that is one of the major factors in the cost of campaigning today. The magnitude is a least in part a matter of inflation and is at least in part of matter of a greater variety of instruments for campaigning. But the major part is the television coverage.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
And it is a catch 22 every way you turn it. The public you see all the polls. We all know intellectually that you shouldn't be able to buy an election by television. You shouldn't be able to win a campaign by smearing the other guy. The public says they are not going to vote for people who run negative ads but the history, you can look at a poll and you can see your percentage here, and you can run negative ads for three weeks and you will see your percentage going up. It just says the polls they don't lie; just in a vacuum have a feeling but when they get in the middle of it they do it anyway. [Recorder is turned off and then back on.]
JACK FLEER:
We've got you elected and I wanted to talk about several different roles that a governor plays, if you don't mind that word, as governor. And the first role that I want to talk about with you is your role as a public leader. I have in mind here the idea of a governor's relationship with the general public either directly or through the media. And what I would like to do is asked you to think about those situations where you want to find out what the people of the state want you to do as governor. How do you go about doing that?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well I tell you Jack I have the feeling that most people who run for governor run with their own ideas about what they want to do for the state. I think that is what is going to be what drives them. If all of us are honest, I think we will convince ourselves that if that is not what the public really wants that's, because they just don't know as much as we do. Now you can do polls and as I told you we didn't have much money. We set up a very jerry-rigged kind of

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polling operation where we had people in each county get a half of a dozen of folks together once a month and either do the required number of calls or the required number of houses of this kind of household or that kind of household and we started that during the campaign and it worked very well and we continued that during the four years of office. So we had the most amateurish and yet at the same time pretty accurate polling operation during the whole time. You would ask questions about issues that were on the front burner. But if you get right down to it I think the public has a right to expect the state government leadership to see that it has a good public school system and that includes higher education as well and the community colleges. That it has good roads to drive on. That it doesn't tax them to death. And that it does as much as it can to help them have good jobs. The last is much more limited than the other two because you are not directly hands on in providing those jobs except in the public sector. Now the public also has a right and they are different, everybody says they want a good environment but when you get down to what people mean by that there are a lot of different views. I think the government has a role to play in seeing that the environment within the state is healthy. I am still basically a believer in the Abraham Lincoln theory that government ought to do for those folks only those things that they can't do as well for themselves. I just know at the time Lincoln said that there were a lot of things that didn't need government at that point that may need government today.
JACK FLEER:
So you mentioned that you had a variety of, I guess sort of like focus groups, that you were using to try to determine what the public view was?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
No, that was using the same mechanism that a private polling firm would use.
JACK FLEER:
Oh I see excuse me.

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JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
They would have, except that ours were volunteers instead of paid. But you try to have the same, you try to have a composition of your polling universe that says that you are going to have 52% women and 48% men and a certain, probably 23% minority. There are some people in the polling business that think you don't have to do that any more.
JACK FLEER:
They are representative samples?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
They are representative samples. And so we had groups of people in each county that would do telephone surveys. Then they would make a note of the kind of person that they got on the phone which category they were in and they would feed all of that into the office in Raleigh the day after they did the polling. We had a couple of people who volunteered in the Raleigh office who took all that down and you are never going to get, you have to throw some out to make up the best sample. When that is through you should have a statewide sample.
JACK FLEER:
It really was public opinion polling done on a volunteer basis and how frequently would you use that particular device.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
About once a month the whole four years we were in Raleigh.
JACK FLEER:
And did that turn out to be a satisfactory way of determining what the public attitudes were?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Pretty much. What you were looking for is how they were feeling generally how things were going. Governors like all public officials want to be universally loved at 100%. You know that it is not going to be that but you want to keep up with how people perceive you are doing the job and how they feel about particular issues. That is obviously going to vary with what is happening at the time.

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JACK FLEER:
When you said how people feel about the way you are doing your job, did you actually ask people about performance ratings?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Yes. We would talk to them about whether they think the schools are doing better than they did last year or how they viewed the economy in their areas as opposed to how it had been and that kind of thing.
JACK FLEER:
So you were getting fairly regular feedback on what the major issues were and on how people were perceiving your performance. Did that cause you at any time to change what you had been planning to do on public policy?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Not a lot. Most of that time it just reflected the same view that I was having about how things were seeing the same things that I was. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out if this was a problem it needed to be talked about. For instance when we had the energy crisis and we had the lines at the gas pumps and that sort of thing. That was an unexpected thing. We hadn't had it since World War II probably and in a different way then. And it became apparent that whatever solution we came up with that neither the press nor the people was going to accept it unless it included those things with the green flags where if you had an odd number of license plates you could get it on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and if you didn't you would go on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday which I thought was just insane. But any rate when we did the energy package things, we put that in there. Not because I thought it was a good idea because I didn't see that it could hurt. But it was obvious that people were going to feel like we hadn't done what we were suppose to if we didn't have that in there. And that's just a small thing; that is almost a blip on a graph in a way.

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JACK FLEER:
How do you explain in a sense why it is that the ideas that you had and presumably others in your administration had were essentially the same ideas that the public had?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well I guess part of this is that as opposed to the presidency I think people have a little bit different view about the governorship. Now they think he ought to be in charge of the governmental operation. I think a large part of what I did had to do with that as opposed to being the speaker in the bully pulpit. I think there is a certain extent to which the governor has to try to help lift people's eyes and goal level some, and he has to lift their spirit. But I think for the most part, people view him as the CEO in charge of governing of the state. Now, not the state, the state government. There are things they expect. They expect that when you have a bad situation like with a storm like we did last week, they expect the governor would be up in his helicopter looking around. That kind of thing. It took me a while to figure that out. The first couple of those I didn't do that. I heard from people about why I hadn't showed up. And if there is some crisis that is effecting large numbers of people either statewide or in specific areas I think they expect a showing of the flag. I view that if you talk about the bully pulpit. I view that the governor is the chief cheerleader for the state's economic efforts, development efforts, for education on the broad scale and in a lot of other areas though. You do ribbon cuttings that don't amount to much except for the people that were there who are glad you came and did it. But if you are seeing to the extent that government is involved in these various issues that it is performing efficiently, that is what people expect you to do. And all the stuff over the last three months over the Department of Transportation is not because Governor Hunt has not been in the bully pulpit it is because people don't think the state government has been operating the way it should. And that is when they feel like you have let them down.

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JACK FLEER:
You say you had these sort of feeling the pulse kinds of groups. You also had some "people's days" that you organized. What was your purpose in that and did it achieve the purpose that you had in mind?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well the idea was in sort of a populist thing. That if the governor is going to be spending his time addressing those big problems that we talked about and meeting with industry leaders and that sort of thing, there ought to be some way that the average person on the street who has a problem with the state or the government in some way or another ought to get the feeling that they never have a chance to see the governor. So we just set these things up. It wasn't the first. Some other governors had done it. A lot of plagiarism in these sort of things. But we did it once a month. Started in Raleigh and moved different places about the state. It was a fascinating diversity of people and motivations came to see us, we just took them first come first served. And to the best of my knowledge we never ran people away. I don't think we ever got to the place that at 4:00 in the afternoon they said we are only going to be here for another hour and that is only going to mean another twelve people, so the rest of you have got to go home. We just didn't do that. We stayed until the line ended.
JACK FLEER:
Would these people tend to focus on particular problems, that were particular to them or would they talk to you about broader issues?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Almost invariably personal things which didn't make it invalid. We had an ombudsmen staff that was geared when we got back to Raleigh. They would take those notes and call an ombudsmen coordinator in each department and say, "We got this problem. What can you do." In a lot of cases people had already written somebody in the state government and nothing had happened. The unfortunate thing is that those of us who have been in government if

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we have a problem, hey, I got a state telephone directory out there at the desk. I know which department to call and I can usually look up and figure out which division to call within a department. The average person on the street hasn't got a clue. They call down to what they think is the Department of Environment. It may or may not get the water quality or they may not get ground water, and so they have been bounced around from one place or another. And these folks can generally follow up. Because they have got the clout in the governor's office behind it, people aren't going to ignore them and so they follow up. But you also found and the more you did these the more it tended to deteriorate into a request to get your road paved or a request to get your brother out of prison, or a request to take out the plate the FBI had put in your head.
JACK FLEER:
Very personal. Did you feel that you benefited any from these, from the standpoint of understanding people's policy or substantive concerns?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
If I am honest about it, not as much as I would hope. A lot of these things were so personal, personally related, that what you were really doing was spending a day each month to give people to have just a chance to have their problems addressed even if it wasn't satisfactory. But you made sure somebody looked after it. Occasionally you would get a good idea. One guy came and talked about old abandoned cars that were left on the beaches out on the Outer Banks. He had an idea about how to go about that and we put that in a motion and it helped. That was sort of an exception rather than the rule. And invariably you would have a few campaign supporters who would come in just to say hello.
JACK FLEER:
And you said you set up this system of ombudsman also, not only in the governor's office, but in the departments?

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JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Yes and that office was in, they had charge of these monthly people's days we could call them. But that was where people got referred if they called in to the governor's office with a problem. They would send them to them rather than to try to send them on to department so that was a point of entry for criticism or questions about governmental operations.
JACK FLEER:
Now a lot of this kind of thing that is done at the national level which is referred to in the literature as "case work" is done through the Congress.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
That is right.
JACK FLEER:
And presumably not as much through the legislature here.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
There is more of that through the legislature now than it use to be, but still not very much compared to congressional operations.
JACK FLEER:
So you were in a sense filling a void that, at least at that time, existed in the operation of the legislature. A third way in which we might think about you in trying to keep in touch with the public and learn something from them about their interests, at least what they think about what you're proposing, is though public appearances before various groups and governors do lots of those kinds of things. Did you find that a useful means of keeping your finger so to speak on the pulse of the people?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I probably didn't think so at the time. In a lot of these cases somebody would call and wanted you to address their national or annual convention or if they had a national group coming in particular felt like the governor ought to show. I would have Jack Childs my press guy call them up and say, "Well tell me the things that your folks are interested in right now. What is on their front burner?" He and I would talk about it and he would put a speech together. And what it did was the fact that you were going to have to make the appearance sort of forced you to

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get up to snuff on what was happening there. It wasn't the contact with them as much as it was the getting ready for them in a way. Now you would pick up a little bit in conversation. But a lot of times that was just coming in and doing a quick reception and speech. You didn't talk to anybody more than five minutes. It was more performing the functions of what people expected the governor to do and sort of this ribbon cutting with some substance on top. But the getting ready was probably more important in terms of the kinds of questions you are asking, I thing.
JACK FLEER:
One of the things that I have noticed in looking at governors from Terry Sanford up through the fourth term or into the fourth term of Governor Hunt is that the number of these appearances has increased dramatically, so very substantially. During your period of time with those four years the average might have been fifty or sixty a year. Now we are talking about two to three hundred a year. And one of the things that I am wondering about is whether something has happen in the governorship or in the relationship between the governor and the public, that 1) maybe brings more requests for those kinds of particular things or 2) makes the governor feel that he or she or whoever, has to be responsive to those kinds of things? But you mentioned earlier that you were amazed at the numbers of people who wanted to see you and the little bit of time you had to respond to those.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Yes, because you have got a lot of things you have got to do just with meeting with budget peoples and during the time the legislature is in town you have got a lot of activity with that. The time that you have that you can actually see the people who are coming in from out of Raleigh to meet with you is pretty small. I know that I am sort of fascinated with what you say. I would be interested in having to go back and see whether there is any correlary between the governor's ability to be re-elected.

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JACK FLEER:
Well this is a question that I have in my mind. Because what is clear from the research that I have done is that the number of appearances increases as you approach the possibility of an election.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
That is sort of my knee jerk reaction.
JACK FLEER:
In your case the number of appearances actually decreased because you didn't have the possibility of a re-election.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Yes and I have to admit I was doing a lot more campaigning for Jerry Ford in 1976, that kind of thing.
JACK FLEER:
Now this is based upon the schedules that are made public. Obviously I don't have access to anything more than the public record. But it is a fascinating thing. One of the things that interest me so much about this is that there is a theory in the presidency, the chief executive of the nation, that the president has become a much more public leader than what he or she was, lets say prior to probably 1960s or 1950s. I am wondering whether there is in fact something happening to the governorship where the expectation of direct access to a governor is increasing so dramatically, where a governor is becoming…. Of course your having been an earlier governor, some of the later governors will have a different perspective on this, but where the governor maybe feels more obligation or maybe…. As I say the number of requests has increased so much or whether there is something else going on out there that may cause governors to be more responsive. I am not suggesting you weren't responsive or responded to as many as you could, but to be more responsive and to commit more time to this kind of activity.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I tell you I don't I don't know if I have got a good informed answer on that. I have the feeling that if you talk to Phil Kirk that he would probably tell you that we turned down

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far more requests than we accepted. And a lot of those requests were to come speak to your chamber dinner in Kinston or Lenoir or Morganton or something. If you started doing that and everybody found out that you were willing to do that, everybody would take advantage of that. I guess my own feeling was I never viewed myself as a great public speaker. I also felt that my main job was to run the government and that I didn't want to spend so much time outside of Raleigh that I didn't focus on what I was suppose to do.
JACK FLEER:
But now for example there is a study by one of the governor's which I understand has not been made public so I won't refer to the governor. It says that the governor spent about one quarter of his time traveling around the state responding to these requests.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
That could be and you know it is sort of an interesting thing. If you, I think this varies a lot from state to state. In talking with other governors around during the time that I was governor, I found that the people from the urban areas did a lot more traveling for public speaking, had a huge amount more security. Then when you went into some of the mountain states in the west they didn't have much security. There was one governor who used to take two weeks hunting trips in the mountains by himself. I always viewed North Carolina somewhere in the middle of that. But if you are going to spend too much time out of Raleigh it means that you have got to have a chief of staff in the governor's office and the cabinet people who are capable of running the ship if you are not there. I tell a lot of people right now that if I am out of town today, my law office just keeps functioning right a long. If my lead secretary is out of town I don't get anything done it seems like to me some days.
JACK FLEER:
I understand.

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JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
And there is a certain amount of truth in that where state government is concerned. It doesn't require the governor to be in his office in order for things to keep happening, if you have got the right people.
JACK FLEER:
And it could well be with extended service, that is the possibility of re-election, that governors are able to put people in place with greater experience to run the government in their absence?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I was just getting ready to say, when we went into office separate from just a serious disadvantage in that we didn't have any Republicans that had ever held office in the executive branch. I mean nobody. While we were able to pick up several legislators who had some experience with government at least, a lot of people came in just from the private sector and there is a learning curve involved with that the best you can do. And so you didn't feel as, you sort of felt like you had to be there on the job more than you would have probably in this day and time.
JACK FLEER:
Another way in which the governors can try either to communicate with the public or in fact learn from the public is through the press. I wanted you to reflect a little bit if you would on how you felt or what contribution did the press made to your ability to govern? In addition how did they detract from your ability to govern?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well the experience that I had was probably different than anybody else's lately in that it came during the middle of Watergate. But there are some other experiences too.
I found that during the campaign, both in the primary and in the general, I was the underdog all the way and I think we got every benefit of the doubt in the press all the way through.
JACK FLEER:
Every bit of the doubt?

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JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Every benefit of the doubt. I think they went out of their way to give us as much coverage as they could probably because they thought that we were trying hard and had some good ideas but didn't have any money. But they did what they have quit doing now which is to have one reporter assigned to you for the pool. He would file and the wire service and everybody else would get the story of what you did that day. They quit doing that and I think that is not good. As soon as I was elected I think the whole, their view of me changed in that all of a sudden I was the guy in charge and I had to be scrutinized to see if I was honest or intelligent or doing right. Even before the inauguration I had already made several mistakes as far as they were concerned which would never have been noticed before the campaign was over. I found that frustrating. But I also sort of recognized that is just how it is once you are in office. There is an arms' length relationship even with friends that has to be there. They have their job to do and if you believe in the first amendment for the most part at least you recognize that. I still do in spite of everything. I think it is abused at times pretty seriously. I found that if you are screwing up the press isn't going to be long letting you know that they think you have. If you will let yourself not be too defensive and be willing to admit you might have made a mistake, somewhere along the line they can be helpful.
JACK FLEER:
Did you hold regular press conferences or regular opportunities for assess?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Not on a regular bases but pretty often. Now Bob Ray in Iowa told me that when he was governor he had a hour every morning where he sat down with any of the reporters that wanted to come in and just talk. So whatever was on the front bumper right then he was there. I thought that was too frequent. Jack Childs always had access to me even if it was by phone to get answers if reporters called in with questions and they usually did for whatever was on their

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mind the day. So it was indirect access but not direct. I found though that as the administration was in the last two years that it may have been because I hadn't faced the situation before or it may have been because they hadn't faced the situation before. It seemed like to me that it became increasingly a feeling with some of the press corp at least you had to prove daily that you were innocent. Watergate was so impacting. I had a friend tell me that one Charlotte Observer reporter had been quoted to him to say that, "I know there is a Watergate in Raleigh if I can just find it." And that tends to get you a little paranoid on your side to know that that's the view that reporters are taking.
JACK FLEER:
What an environment to have to contend with on a daily basis?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
That's right. And it also reached the point where for instance the commander of the highway patrol got a speeding ticket, got stopped on the way back from Asheville. Everybody immediately wanted to know if I was going to fire him. And I will admit the highways are his responsibility and that was something that he shouldn't have done. At the same time I couldn't in my own mind see that anybody should even think that that should be grounds for firing.
JACK FLEER:
Now as far as the ability of a governor to communicate to the public on whatever concerns like the energy crisis during your particular administration, as I recall you did go on state television to talk about the energy crisis. But more often than not, at least increasingly, governors have difficulty gaining assess to the media for those purposes.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I think that is true and I think the economic demands of operating television stations these days probably have just changed, or greed. I don't know enough about the profits in it, but for one reason or another the state broadcasters haven't been nearly as willing to give the

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governor public service time to talk on a statewide network of late. We had fair amount of an occasion to do that I think.
JACK FLEER:
If you couldn't address the public directly, you obviously had to address them through the press. How about your assessment of how well the press communicated your ideas for you so to speak if you had a particular policy concern that you wanted to get out.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
On the things that really mattered I thought they did okay, I thought they did pretty well. It wasn't nearly as bad then as it is now. But if you took these six things and said they were the major issues, I thought they did fine. If you took these four things that were the hot button Clinton sex scandal kind of things of the day, they didn't do too well but they did well compared to what is happening today. And I am just sort of appalled over what has happen in the last ten days with the President and with this thing with the intern. I am appalled that he got himself in that situation, but I am also appalled with how the press just has its, and everybody call it, feeding frenzy and just goes crazy. They are reporting things that aren't backed up by facts and two days later prove there were no basis at all.
JACK FLEER:
But you felt by and large that you could use the press and I don't mean in any nefarious way. I just mean it was available to be used for you to get out ideas adequately to the public and so the absence of your ability to go on statewide television for example was not a serious problem as it could have been.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I don't believe I ever felt a problem with being able to get out to the people what I wanted to say. The only time I had a mechanical problem was when I wanted to do sort of a summation of the administration and I wanted to do it before the election of 1976. Everybody

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said if you would wait until after the election, we will give you the time and if you are going to do it before the election we can't. So I borrowed the money and paid for it myself and just did it.
JACK FLEER:
I have read about that and it is actually a fairly unique experience among governors I believe, I mean in this state.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
It was just mountaineer stubbornness.
JACK FLEER:
But that was. One of the reasons I got very interested in this whole relationship issue is how conscientious governors have been to report to the people fairly frequently. I mean there is a nice set of summaries out there either in report form or television like you did in which governors, not every one of them but many of them, have gone through their administrations and have tried to account for what they did. And in a sense of course this whole relationship that we are talking about from the governor to the public is an accountability relationship.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
That is right.
JACK FLEER:
Because you wouldn't be there if it had not been for the people, presumably.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
And in all these things you tend to give yourself the best of it when you talk about the things that have happen you have done well. You don't talk about the things that didn't do as well, I suspect.
JACK FLEER:
But it is interesting in fact that it has occurred. What has been of some concern is that not all of them have been able to have direct access to the public like you did only because you were willing to take out the $10,000 or whatever it was.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
$15,000
JACK FLEER:
Of your pocket.

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JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
But I think that if I had asked for that the first of December I could have gotten it. Now I don't believe you could do that today from what I have heard.
JACK FLEER:
Legally or politically.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Economically. I don't think the stations will give you the time. See because it is sort of a funny thing. Technology has changed too. Back then we had to take a reel of tape and hand carry it to each of the stations to get them to run it. We had to have duplicate tapes for all of the stations that were going to do it.
JACK FLEER:
Well one of the interest that I have is whether there has in fact occurred any kind of change of a significant nature in the relationship between governors in the 1960s and 1970s to the governors in 1990s. That is, in a sense do governors feel an obligation to have greater contact with the public. But from what I can tell from you, you felt that obligation very strongly in 1970 and you devoted a lot of time to it. Maybe the mechanisms today are different.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Easier and better.
JACK FLEER:
Easier and better because of technology.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
I am sort of inclined to think that the period from 1965 to 1975 maybe has changed forever and for the worst for the most part the relationship between the office holders and the press. I saw, the press, the media, prints stuff. It seems like to me that the combination of the Vietnam War and the disillusionment that a lot of people had with the government and then the Watergate era just right after that has left forever the willingness of the media to not give the benefit of the doubt to but to have a certain regard for people in public office. Now Newsweek sort of departed from that a little bit on this latest thing in that they didn't go to the press when they could have with this first story. And there may have been some stories that have

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gotten squelched or delayed or toned down that we don't know about. But it seems to me lately there has been a great tendency on the part of the media to say our job is to represent the public in keeping public officials honest and in scrutinizing everything to make sure that they are doing it the way that it is right which means the way that I think it is right as the reporter or the editor and nobody elected them to a thing.
JACK FLEER:
Another argument that is given on this whole issue of public leaders having to be more accessible and responsive to the public, at least superficially if not in fact, is that political parties have broken down rather significantly.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
No question.
JACK FLEER:
So that there is not the discipline, there is not the loyalty, there is not even the identification that existed during the time; that is, citizens' identification with political parties. That in a sense you don't have that intermediary institution that can provide you with those means of access and rallying support and that kind of things. Did you feel that when you were governor that you did in fact have that sort of network out there in the party?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
Well again I was sort of special case. I had been the state chairman for five years and I knew all those people. I wasn't like a candidate who comes along with a million bucks of his own money and wants to spew it out there on the tube, bypass the organization, and just go right directly to the voters and get elected or get nominated as the case may be. And because I had a state party chairmanship I also had a sense of what my obligation to the party was in terms of building the Republican Party. Every particular situation depends on where it fits in the over all scheme for example. As the first one you had a different obligation than later ones do. A

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Republican who gets elected in 2000 if one does has a very different obligation than the first one which was just to try to hold everything together so that it won't break apart.
JACK FLEER:
Right.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
But there is no question that the party thing has broken down. That started changing when the seniority system in the Congress went by the boards and that was the McGovern commission. Now the McGovern Commission changed the nomination process in which you no longer had to get the approval of the smoke-filled room leadership. You could go directly to the primary.
JACK FLEER:
But the breakdown of seniority did occur in '74 which was just right after the McGovern Commission.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
And David Broder has written a lot about the parties and their role and how it has changed. Right now the parties seem to me almost no more than the vehicle through which soft money sometimes flows. That may be because I am not nearly as close to it as I was for a long time. I just haven't been that much involved. I don't go to the executive committee meetings and the central committee meetings to see what is happening and how much time people are putting in. But I have the feeling that people have a lot more direct sense of relationship and are tuned in more with their own legislators and congressmen and all than they are with the state headquarters.
JACK FLEER:
That possibility for access is also greater as you say today not only because of the technological developments which have occurred but probably also because of people being seen more on television, seeing them as individuals, when often in the past they were just names.

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JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER JR.:
And the overall bad part of this, and there are some good parts, but the bad part of this is that you don't have any serious party discipline left in the legislative bodies. Now that is not quite as true in Raleigh as it is in Washington. But in Washington it seems to me that there are some many cases for so many different causes that trying to exercise discipline to get the votes together is difficult…...
END OF INTERVIEW