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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, May 14, 1976. Interview A-0328-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Sanford explains his decision to not run for governor against Luther Hodges

In a bit of a canned story, Sanford describes his political epiphany to avoid running for gubernatorial office against Luther Hodges. However, he reveals a more careful decision-making process in his choice to not run for political office.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, May 14, 1976. Interview A-0328-1. 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

Well, this is a kind of funny little turn because I was about decided we shouldn't do it. I said, "Let's walk on over to the elections office," which was in the agriculture building, I believe. So we were parked over there, and I said, "If the Lord doesn't intervene between the time I get there, I'm going to file." Well, the Lord intervened because here came the agent of the Lord around the corner, Dr. L. Stacy Weaver. And if the Lord ever had an agent, it was L. Stacy Weaver. He had just become president of Methodist College or was in the process of becoming where I was the chairman. I was chief promoter of Stacy Weaver coming on, so he delayed me until the 12:00 bell rang. And I said to Dick, "Well, the Lord intervened. Let's go over and speak to Governor Hodges." So we walked on over to Governor Hodges's office. He welcomed us in. I was sitting there in his office when Makepeace came in and said, "Well, Governor, you got by without opposition." I never told him that story, of course.
You mean just by chatting with Weaver, even with this on your mind, you decided to just let things happen as they . . . ?
Not really. It has become apocryphal because Dick and I told it so often, and it got a little firmer with each telling. As I said, I was so doubtful about running anyhow because it didn't seem quite right to me. I really didn't feel quite ready. I think Hodges might have been defeated because he didn't have any political force, and he'd been very arrogant in his dealings with a great many people. But he was right on the race issue, and that was another thing that bothered me, that I didn't want to run against him and upset that. You know, there were many, many things. I'd been thinking about this for a month. But I just said, "Now just so we won't be sitting down here in Fayetteville as 11:00 saying, ‘By golly, we ought to have taken the gamble,’" Dick being one of my closest advisors I said, "Let's just ride up there, talk about it, and then we'll do what needs to be done." Well, I didn't much think we were going to file, but since I had put it if the Lord doesn't intervene and Stacy walked around the corner, we always thought that was a good signal. But that didn't have anything to do with it. We would not have filed anyhow. I don't really believe in signs and omens.
Let's break here.