Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., June 4, 1998. Interview C-0328-4. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Growth of the Republican Party in North Carolina

Holshouser remembers his personal satisfaction with building a two-party system in North Carolina, a feat he accomplished in essence by building a Republican Party organization to compete with the long-established Democratic one. He was particularly gratified that the party made the gains it did in the 1980s, given the blow dealt by Watergate in the early 1970s.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., June 4, 1998. Interview C-0328-4. 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

JACK FLEER:
To what extent has the Republican Party fulfilled the expectations you had when you were governor of North Carolina? Has it met those expectations or exceeded them or not reached them?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER, JR.:
I am really pleased. I feel like a real sense of personal satisfaction there. I think we have built a two party state. I think that is good for North Carolina. It is sort of hard to say it in a succinct, correct way Jack. But I am a Republican who made that conscious choice philosophically about how I view government. We talked about that big umbrella that I don't feel always comfortable with what my party is doing. I would feel less comfortable as a Democrat although there are times that I feel more comfortable with, an immediate Democrat position than I do a Republican position some places. But I think that the higher part of what I was about in that part of my life was building a two party system as such. I told Pat when I'd come home from a state's chairmen's meeting some time or another and I had heard a chairman from Indiana or Ohio or something talk about government and how it was and I came home and said you know he sounds just like the Democrats. Had to be his approach to this. They had been in control for so long and how their patronage machine was set up and how the contribution machine was set up. I said in that state I probably would be a Democrat. I doubt I know that is probably not so because philosophically I wouldn't move in that direction. At the same time I have always thought that balance helps the political process and that one party government is just not good even when it is Republican.
JACK FLEER:
Do you think that the advances that the Republican Party has made, let's say by 1998 when we are talking, are greater or lesser than what you would have anticipated in 1970, in the state I am talking about?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER, JR.:
If you had asked me in January of 1973 I would have one opinion. By 1976 having seen the full impact of Watergate and how much of an impact it had, I am extremely pleased that that rebound came in the 1980s. By the 1990s we had a majority in one of the houses of the legislature. We haven't elected many Council of State people. That is the only area where we are sort of short.. We have elected judges, which is sort of another case, because I don't think they ought to be elected. That is an evolutionary process from 1982. But I thought it would be long time before we elected a majority in the legislature.