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Oral History Interview with James B. Hunt, August 15, 2001. Interview C-0331. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    In the second of three interviews, four-term Democratic North Carolina Governor James B. Hunt describes the qualities of an effective governor. He recalls how his experience as the lieutenant governor to a Republican governor in the early 1970s taught him the need for bipartisanship. Hunt says that these elements shaped his philosophy as governor and resulted in political accomplishments, including the Smart Start educational program and the Coastal Area Management Act, an environmental initiative. Hunt advocates building a strong and dedicated team of people to surround the governor in order to best implement his policies. His emphasis on team-building and delegation gave him more time to meet with his constituency. Hunt also describes the ethical challenges he faced with patronage in state job positions and his tense relationship with the Council of State, an independently-elected executive cabinet. Because of Hunt's willingness to cooperate with Republican politicians, lingering tensions faded quickly. He describes the growing centrality of the media to political campaigns, including his own; he maintains that his good working relationship with the media allowed him to accept the media's constructive criticism and helped him to avoid the excessive negative smears that beset other North Carolina governors. Hunt discuses the personal, emotional, and physical strains of running for and serving as governor: canvassing the state for votes, spending long stretches of time away from his family, reviewing clemency cases, and being continually scrutinized by the media—his good relationship with them notwithstanding—all took a physical and emotional toll on Hunt. Hunt also touches on such subjects as gubernatorial succession, veto power, and budgetary powers.
  • Essential qualities for a strong and effective governor
  • Limitations of recruiting candidates for public office
  • Realities of campaign finance
  • Hunt's bipartisanship due to the Republican Council of State
  • Changes Hunt experienced during his four terms as governor
  • Relationship between the media and the governor
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  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • 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.