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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, February 11, 1998. Interview C-0336-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Scott is not a party loyalist

Jim Holshouser, the first Republican elected to North Carolina's governorship in many years, took the office following Scott's departure. Scott attributes this historic change to "demographics," inevitable changes taking place in North Carolina. Holshouser's ascendance did not bother Scott: if he did not have a family history in the Democratic Party, he might have voted for both parties, Scott confesses.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, February 11, 1998. Interview C-0336-2. 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

Your term as governor was succeeded by the first Republican elected as governor in the twentieth century in North Carolina, and some would argue, at least in part, that that was due to some division within the Democratic party. Do you believe that, if you had given the role of the party greater attention, you might have been able to either prevent those divisions or somehow heal those wounds more?
Maybe, but I really doubt it. Certainly not to the extent that it would have prevented the election of a Republican, the first one in this century, following my administration. That change was coming. We might have been able to delay it for four years, but the demographics, the data shows that this was just a continuation of a trend toward a two-party system that had begun, I don't know, soon after World War II. Perhaps during the years of Harry Truman, back in those times. So it was going to happen. National politics affected that considerably at that time, which precipitated—probably gave the edge that Holshouser needed to be elected governor. An interesting event, footnote, was that just a few weeks before the general election, in 1972, Holshouser was running against Skipper Bowles. I was speaking at the Jaycee state convention in Winston-Salem. And Jim Holshouser was there to campaign. He was not on the program, but he was moving around the crowd, and following the program, he came up and spoke to me. I was down on the floor, I was getting ready to head back home. But oddly for some reason, for about five minutes, we were there alone, even though there were lots of other people in the room. And I said, "Jim, how do you feel about it?" And he said, "You know, I just might win." And I said, "Well, I think you might be right." And he looked somewhat startled, because at that time the trend was running in his favor, the tide was moving and was gaining momentum. And the question was, would it move fast enough in the short few days he had left to give him the margin of victory. Of course, nobody could tell. But I had had a report from my staff person Ben Roney, who kept up with that sort of thing, and he had just finished a telephone survey among our people around of the state: "What do you think? How's it look?" And he had just told me, just before I went to that meeting, "It looks like Holshouser is going to win." So that was the reason I was able to say, "I think you might be right." And I don't know whether Jim Holshouser remembers that conversation, but I clearly do, and I can take you to the part where we were standing there, in the middle of the floor, in front of the podium, talking about that. And it was interesting to see that tide coming. Well, going back to your question, the party has been good to me and my family, and I believe in loyalty, and because it has afforded my father and me and others in my family an opportunity, the means by which we could participate in government, the political process, and make a contribution through elective office, I'll be a Democrat. I may not think philosophically—if I had not done that, if family had not been involved, I expect I would've been one of those folks who'd split my ballot.