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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James B. Hunt, May 18, 2001. Interview C-0329. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Bert Bennett's effective role as Hunt's campaign manager

Bert Bennett was pivotal in garnering political and financial support for Hunt during his 1972 campaign for lieutenant governor. As a seasoned campaign manager, Bennett refused to have Hunt beholden to other groups politically.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James B. Hunt, May 18, 2001. Interview C-0329. 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:
You said you had already contacted Bert Bennett by this time. What was the nature of that contact and would you talk about the role of a Bert Bennett in your political development?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Bert of course had been the campaign manager for Terry Sanford and had been party chairman. I can't remember exactly what Bert said to me, but he was at least open to the idea.
JACK FLEER:
Had you written him to say I'm interested or—
JAMES B. HUNT:
Thinking about it.
JACK FLEER:
Thinking about it.
JAMES B. HUNT:
What do you think? I might have even talked about several possibilities in terms of the council of state. I don't know if I've got that letter, what he wrote me back. I don't know if I've got it or not. One of these days I've got to go through all my stuff.
JACK FLEER:
That's right.
JAMES B. HUNT:
In any event Bert was open to the idea. Those were during the days when Bert was very active, not trying to be a power. He'd lost his race for the senate up there. But completely loyal to his friends and supportive of progressive candidates and appreciative of people that had worked with him and helped, and when I started running of course, he very actively helped me put it together.
JACK FLEER:
Now did that mean that you were sort of adding to your resources to build support in the state or was Bert Bennett part of the organization?
JAMES B. HUNT:
No. No. I would say that was stepping up to the major leagues. I'd worked with all these what do you call these farm teams. I had a strong support from the farm team organization around the state. But when Bert supported me and put his full resources into my campaign and wrote and contacted every friend he had in the state, and if you were a friend of Bert Bennett's, you were a friend. He was your friend.
JACK FLEER:
Yeah.
JAMES B. HUNT:
I remember he would always, if I ever see him at something, he didn't start talking about politics. He started talking about your family, your children. It was that kind of relationship. People would do anything in the world for him. The most honest man I ever saw in politics. Never doing something so he could get something out of it. I might add making John Brown sure his candidates didn't.
JACK FLEER:
Didn't get anything out of it?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Didn't get indebted to people. His term was don't let them have a string on you which means they could pull your string and get you to do something. It's not right.