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Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., March 13, 1998. Interview C-0328-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Elected to the governorship of North Carolina in 1972, James E. Holshouser Jr. was the first Republican chief executive of that state since 1896. In this interview, he remembers his service to the state, from his early days administering a budget surplus to his involvement in the partisan battles over major state issues. The biggest political challenge Holshouser faced was his effort to shore up the strength of the executive branch against incursions from the legislature. Even as he sought to secure executive power, he applied his managerial mentality, a belief in consensus-building honed during his time as a member of the minority party in the state legislature, to tangled issues like road-building and the reorganization of the University of North Carolina system. Holshouser describes the ethical challenges that confront politicians—including demands for favors or appointments and his efforts to avoid them—as well as commenting on his relationship with the media, which he seems to find inflammatory and overreaching. He also addresses the power of North Carolina's governor, both in absolute terms and in relation to the state's legislature, and how that power comes into play in budget negotiations and other arenas. This interview offers a comprehensive look into the world of North Carolina's governor, both its possibilities and its limitations.
  • Choosing which office to run for
  • Challenges and demands of the governorship
  • Recovering from the campaign and beginning to govern
  • Sense of responsibility sets in after inauguration
  • Making decisions about disbursing a budget surplus
  • The challenges of taking office
  • Conflicts over reorganizing the UNC system
  • Executive and legislative branches struggle for power
  • The importance of an effective liaison between governor and legislature
  • Power and responsibility for North Carolina's governor
  • Gaining loyalty, but not with favors
  • Trying to keep politics out of road-building
  • North Carolina law enhances late-term governor's lame duck status
  • First GOP governor in many decades encounters unique challenges
  • Warning against rewarding political allies inappropriately
  • A governor's need for honest advisers
  • Holhouser's relationship with Jim Hunt
  • Challenge of getting money out of a Democratic legislature
  • A relatively weak governorship in North Carolina
  • Power, partisanship, and pressure complicate a governor's role
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  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
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  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.