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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., May 9, 1998. Interview C-0328-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Professionalizing political parties

Holshouser describes the growth of both the Republican and Democratic parties. Since his term as governor, both have grown in wealth and organization, and have undergone a degree of professionalization.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., May 9, 1998. Interview C-0328-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

…Other than having in the chair a person who was sympathetic to your administration—or compatible, let's say, to your administration and your way of leading the Republican party, what other aspects of the party organization and resources were you able to try to control as governor?
Of course, at that time the party was a different creature than it is now. You didn't have the tax check-off, or a significant source of on-going funds. So the party organization as such really wasn't much of an organization as such. It was almost totally volunteers, including the chairman. From my recollection, when I became state chairman in the sixties, we had one employee, secretary who got the mailings out, and that sort of thing. We had either a one office or a two-office suite in the Carolina Hotel in Raleigh. It was just a minimal, minimal budget; the party was $50,000 in debt, which was enormous for that time. We spent two years just getting that paid off. That is the hardest money you ever raise because it didn't go into anybody's campaign. Campaign techniques and the party's ability to function have come a long way since then in terms of being able to use direct mail, for fundraising being able to… [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A] [TAPE 1, SIDE B] [START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
…So both parties are better funded now than they were in the sixties, I think. It's usually easier for the party that's in control of the governor's office, to have the governor's presence help the party draw a crowd at fundraising dinners and that sort of thing. But both parties have gotten much more sophisticated (Republicans may still be a little more sophisticated) in terms of fundraising and campaign techniques. [Recorder is turned off and then back on.]
We were discussing the ability of the governor to control the resources of the party, and you were saying that parties are much better off today, and that the Republican party might well be more sophisticated than the Democrats.
And there's another factor in this, too. When a new administration comes in, invariably the people who had been involved in the campaign and got their adrenaline running come to Raleigh. Well, that political adrenaline doesn't automatically turn off when they become a state employee. With both parties having their state headquarters in Raleigh, I suspect it's pretty usual that some of those people end up volunteering for things on nights and weekends with the party. If you watch campaigns in the off-year elections, you will see people moving in and out of the government fairly frequently into campaigns; somebody will leave this position in this department and go into the campaign for Joe Blow who's running for Congress, or the US Senate, or something. After the elections, however, he's right back over there—particularly if they lost.