Wednesday, August 31, 2011

To Write(In) the Wrong

Around the world, write-in candidacies are generally viewed as an American tradition. With a few exceptions – such as the famous and bizarre case of a foot powder winning a mayoral election in Ecuador in 1967 – the United States has pioneered the practice of recognizing votes for write-in candidates, even those for fictional characters like the ever-popular Donald Duck. No fewer than eleven members of Congress – three U.S. Senators and eight U.S. Representatives, including current Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack of Iowa – have won initial election or reelection due to write-in efforts.

One of the most significant write-in candidacies in Georgia history was that by supporters of Ellis Arnall in the gubernatorial campaign of 1966 (featured in our last blog post). Arnall, decidedly the most liberal candidate, had served as Governor during World War II, and during his governorship had lowered Georgia’s voting age to 18 (the first state to do so), paid off the state’s debts, and reformed the state’s higher education system to restore accreditation to Georgia colleges. He had also gained a racially progressive reputation after repealing the poll tax and refusing to defy a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against all-white party primaries.

In his ’66 race, fully 20 years after his leaving office, Arnall placed first in the initial all-candidate Democratic field with 29.4% to segregationist Lester Maddox’s 23.6%, but then lost the Democratic nomination in a runoff election to Maddox by a vote of 54.3% to 45.7%. With the general election offering a choice between one conservative (Maddox) and another (Republican Bo Callaway), Democrats like the Rev. John Morris – founder of that year’s “Write In, Georgia” committee – whose pro-Great Society and civil rights priorities better aligned with those of the national party and the Johnson White House pushed Arnall as an alternative. When Morris notified Arnall in writing of his and others’ intention to pursue a write-in option, Arnall responded with less-than-subtle encouragement.

In the end, 69,025 voters wrote Arnall’s name on their ballots, fully 7.1% of the vote and enough to deny both Maddox and Callaway an overall majority (Callaway took 46.5%, Maddox 46.2%). As the General Assembly was empowered to select governors in the case of no candidate receiving 50%, Democratic legislators chose their party’s nominee in Maddox, and Arnall returned to his Atlanta law firm, Arnall Golden & Gregory, never to seek public office again.

Arnall’s write-in candidacy is well documented in John B. Morris Collection, as well as the Harold Paulk Henderson Oral History Collection. The Morris collection contains correspondence, newspaper articles, newsletters, pamphlets, memoranda that document the 1966 Georgia Write-In Movement, including letters between Morris and Arnall (who could not officially show support for the movement because he signed a pledge to support the choice of the Democratic Primary). The collection also documents Morris’s split from the Democratic Party following the write-in campaign, and the formation of the Georgia Democratic Party Forum.

The Harold Paulk Henderson Oral History Collection consists of interviews conducted by Henderson during his research for a biography of Ellis Arnall. Series I contains interviews that explore the 1966 gubernatorial election and the life of Arnall.

Dark Horse in the Running

In politics, a dark horse is a candidate who emerges from relative obscurity to win a primary election and, with it, his or her party’s nomination. The term derives, unsurprisingly, from horse racing, and is attributed in its modern use to Benjamin Disraeli’s 1831 novel The Young Duke.

A classic example in Georgia’s political history was the late Governor Lester Maddox, whose only statewide electoral experience when he claimed the governor’s mansion in 1966 consisted of a failed bid for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor in 1962. Maddox owned the infamous Pickrick Restaurant and became known statewide when civil rights activists staged demonstrations outside the whites-only eatery in 1964-65. Ultimately, Maddox chose to close down rather than serve black customers in compliance with the federal Civil Rights Act.

Entering the race for Governor in 1966, Maddox faced a crowded Democratic primary. The field of candidates included former Governor Ellis Arnall, former Lieutenant Governor Garland T. Byrd, segregationist businessman James H. Gray of Albany, and future Governor and U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Though vocal in his opposition to racial integration and federal civil rights laws endorsed by the Johnson White House, Maddox did not appear any better positioned than Gray or Carter against Arnall. The former Governor seemed to have the advantage, as his was the most recognizable name on the ballot.

In the primary election Arnall led with 29.4% of the vote. Surprising most political observers, Maddox placed second with 23.6%, followed by Carter at 20.9%, Gray with 19.4%, and Byrd trailing behind with a mere 5.1%. In the September 28th runoff, Maddox ran as a hard-line conservative against Arnall, uniting former Gray and Byrd supporters to defeat the progressive former Governor with 54.3% of the vote.

The GOP nominated first-term U.S. Representative Howard “Bo” Callaway, the first Republican to represent Georgia in Congress since Reconstruction and the first Republican nominee for Governor since 1876. As public sentiment in the state continued to turn away from an increasingly liberal national Democratic Party, and Georgians continued to resist federal efforts to desegregate the South, the Republican Party seemed to have new hope in the state. For proof, an observer need look no further than Georgia’s support for Republican Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election, the first-ever Georgia victory for a GOP presidential candidate.

What Happened in the General Election, You Ask?

The dark horse won.

In the general election Callaway identified himself as a “Goldwater Republican” and opponent of the Civil Rights Act. Maddox used his standoff at the Pickrick as a springboard for segregationist martyrdom. Angered by their party’s choice, a number of Democratic activists voted for Arnall as a write-in candidate, ridiculing Callaway’s “Go Bo!” slogan with the retort “Go Bo, and take Lester with you!” On November 8, Callaway made electoral history once again as the first Republican to place first in a Georgia gubernatorial race in almost a century, gaining 46.5% of the vote to Maddox’s 46.2%. Arnall took 7.1% of the total, and since no candidate had won an outright majority the election was thrown to the General Assembly for state legislators to decide on a victor. Because a lopsided majority of legislators were Democrats and had signed party loyalty oaths therein, Maddox was chosen as Governor.

The Howard H. (Bo) Callaway Collection and Clifford Hodges Brewton Collection of Lester G. Maddox Speech/Pres Research Files are filled with great primary resources documenting the 1966 gubernatorial race, as well as what happened to these candidates after the dust settled.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Word of the Day: Gerrymandering (Part 2)

Building on our conversation yesterday...

How has redistricting played out in Georgia in the past?
Georgia did not redraw its congressional districts at all between 1931 and 1964 – the reason for the large population deviations between districts noted in Wesberry. The Democratic Party had monopolized political power in the state since the end of Reconstruction, and just as in the rest of the pre-Voting Rights Act “Solid South,” state legislators aimed to elect conservative-minded white Democrats wherever possible, chiefly through vote suppression and secondarily through gerrymandering. When forced to redraw congressional and legislative maps in 1964, legislators essentially adjusted the old maps only for population deviation, and even then crafted maps with far greater deviations than courts would today consider acceptable.

Attempts to maintain political monopoly in Georgia have, at times, backfired. The U.S. Supreme Court ordered Georgia to redraw its state legislative maps in 1973 to comply with the Voting Rights Act’s minority protections. After that, neither congressional nor state legislative districts changed dramatically in the state until 1991, when the federal Justice Department announced it would reject any district plans from states needing pre-clearance that did not maximize the creation of black-majority districts.

Georgia was gaining a seat in congressional reapportionment, and legislators largely concurred in the necessity of creating a new seat designed to elect an African-American, in addition to the Atlanta-based 5th District. The General Assembly, at the time dominated by Democrats, also aimed to eliminate the congressional delegation’s sole Republican, U.S. Representative and future Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who had barely survived reelection in 1990. But incumbent white Democrats worried about the prospect of minority-friendly maps hurting their re-election chances by removing Democratic-friendly constituencies from their districts.

In the end, their fears were well founded. The Assembly passed a congressional plan that created a meandering black-majority district stretching from DeKalb County to Augusta and Savannah; in the 1992 election, not only was Gingrich reelected comfortably, but also a 9-1 Democratic edge transformed to 7-4 in Georgia’s representation in Congress. In the Republican wave year of 1994, GOP gains were solidified into a whopping 8-3 majority, and though the U.S. Supreme Court declared the 1991 districts unconstitutional in Miller v. Johnson (1995), forcing a remap, that 8-3 Republican lead that would hold until the next round of redistricting in 2001 implemented considerably more Democratic-friendly maps.

Republicans took control of the General Assembly in 2004 and redrew congressional districts before the next election to reverse the alleged Democratic gerrymander of 2001. The current congressional delegation consists of 8 Republicans and 5 Democrats.

Where does redistricting fit into the Russell Library’s collections?
Commonly referred to in our collections as “reapportionment” – several of the collections housed at the Russell Library address this in the early 1990s.

Don Johnson, a state senator from 1987 to 1992 served on the reapportionment committee. His collection contains committee folders filled with various proposed reapportionment maps and press releases on the proposals. Of particular interest are bits about the "Max-Black" plan supported by the Georgia Black Caucus – attempting to trade populations in Macon and Savannah to remodel three districts, making them friendlier to black candidates.

J. Roy Rowland, a six term Representative from Georgia’s “Bloody Eighth” district, of course had a stake in reapportionment maps. His collection contains memorandums, maps, and other correspondence that give an interesting perspective – that of a longtime incumbent facing potential changes to his voting constituency in the 1992 election. Also, news clippings that follow the plan to oust Gingrich and its ultimate fallout.

For more information on this topic, or on these particular collections, you can visit the Russell Library collections database HERE and browse on your own with keywords like “redistricting” and “reapportionment” (for starters). Or, hear what Rowland, and other legislators like Tyrone Brooks and Michael Thurmond had to say on the topic in their interviews for the Reflections on Georgia Politics oral history series.

So, how will redistricting play out in Georgia this year?
Governor Nathan Deal has signed new state legislative district maps passed on more or less party-line votes, the General Assembly’s Republican majority having drawn and supported the plans. State Senate maps can be viewed here and State House maps here. The Assembly is currently debating a congressional proposal that creates a new district in Northeast Georgia (including the Gainesville area) and maintains four districts with African-American majorities –three in metropolitan Atlanta and one in Southwest Georgia. Democrats like U.S. Representative John Lewis have accused legislators of attempting to “re-segregate” the state in targeting the congressional delegation’s long white Democrat, U.S. Representative John Barrow, for defeat.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Word of the Day: Gerrymandering (Part 1)

This year marks the beginning of the nationwide decennial process known as redistricting, and in Georgia as nearly everywhere, redistricting is already playing out in contentious and newsworthy ways. Before we get to our word of the day, here's a bit about redistricting...

The U.S. Constitution mandates (Article I, Section 2) a once-per-decade federal Census (conducted in years ending with the numeral 0) to determine the number of people living in each state. The 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are apportioned among the 50 states based on these population findings, with the congressional delegations’ new sizes taking effect at the following election (held in years ending with the numeral 2). Since the U.S. Supreme Court decisions Reynolds v. Sims and Wesberry v. Sanders in 1964 – the latter a case concerning Georgia’s congressional districts – states must redraw their U.S. congressional and state legislative districts at least once per decade in accordance with new Census figures, and must draw them to be of relatively equal population. Prior to Wesberry, districts saw wide population variance, with one congressional seat in the Atlanta area comprising 823,680 people and one in rural Georgia just 272,154. Today, each congressional district in Georgia must have roughly 691,975 people, each State Senate district 172,994, and each State House district 53,820.

How is it done?
States use different processes for decennial redistricting. In California, for example, a nonpartisan commission composed of citizens with no recent electoral background draws boundaries without access to political data, and must consider only issues of geography or community ties, in addition to complying with the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. Here in Georgia as in most states, however, the General Assembly is empowered to draw both U.S. congressional and state legislative lines, with approval from the Governor (unless the legislature has sufficient votes to override a veto). Legislatures can and do include political and other such information in redrawing districts, allowing for a more partisan atmosphere than one might expect from a state that excludes elected officials from the process.

And now, what is gerrymandering?
Gerrymandering is the act of drawing districts for a particular agenda and without special regard to preserving communities of interest or establishing compact, logical seat boundaries. The term dates back to the early 19th century, when Elbridge Gerry, the Governor of Massachusetts and a former member of the Continental Congress, pressed the state legislature to draw a map of congressional districts intended to elect a delegation favorable to his Democratic-Republican Party instead of the opposition Federalists. A newspaper cartoonist at the time lampooned the map’s absurd meandering lines by drawing it as a menacing serpent-like creature, and the word “gerrymander” (a fusion of “Gerry” and “salamander”) was born. Today, gerrymandering can take several forms. Legislators can draw districts to maximize one party’s electoral fortunes (by, for example, packing neighborhoods favorable to the other party into a small number of districts) or for demographic purposes (to ensure a certain ethnic majority in a given district, for example, or to put voters of similar economic interests, like farmers, together).

Ethnic gerrymandering is generally evaluated with respect to the Voting Rights Act, which the courts have interpreted to mandate the creation of some districts with majorities of nonwhite voters (where practicable). The federal Justice Department has authority to preclear or deny district maps in certain states with histories of racial discrimination in redistricting; Georgia is one such state. Georgia’s current congressional map includes three districts with African-American voting-age majorities, and one with such a plurality.

Partisan gerrymandering is not banned by any federal or Georgia law. Here in Georgia, Republican-affiliated groups attacked the congressional and state legislative maps passed in 2001 as Democratic gerrymanders, and took steps both in court and in the General Assembly to strike down and replace those maps. Though gerrymandering has flourished in all levels of government since the 19th century, modern computer software has enabled political actors to access remarkably accurate and specific demographic information all the way down to the individual block level, making the process easier than ever before.

What does redistricting mean for Georgia?
For purposes of receiving federal dollars and enhancing its electoral clout during the next decade, Georgia stands to gain from reapportionment and redistricting. While the size of the U.S. House has been fixed at 435 for a century, Georgia’s population grew more rapidly than the national average during the 2000s, and so the state will gain one congressional seat for a total House delegation of 14 at the next election. Just as its congressional delegation will expand, Georgia will gain one more vote in the Electoral College in 2012, making it a state of 16 electors as opposed to the 15 it offered in the 2008 presidential election.

In tomorrow's post will spotlight Georgia's redistricting in 1992 with some documents from the J. Roy Rowland collection, so stay tuned.

Post by Nathaniel Ament-Stone, Student Worker, Russell Library

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Political Slang

As the Russell Library looks toward our move to the new Special Collections Building, I am especially looking forward to opening our new exhibit galleries in the space!

In an attempt to keep you on the edge of your seats for the opening events, I’m collaborating with our newest student worker create a series of blog posts that hint at the exhibit topic. Each post will center on a word or phrase of political jargon connected to Georgia’s political stories – past and present – as well as to the collections of the Richard B. Russell Library. Each word is a piece of our larger exhibit puzzle and should get potential visitors revved up for the new display.

Can't wait to know more about the origins of well known and obscure political slang? You're in luck. We'll put up the first post tomorrow followed by weekly installments from here on out.

Post by Jan Levinson, Outreach Archivist, Russell Library

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Russell Library Moving Alert Bulletin

If all goes according to plan, the Russell Library will begin moving its collections to the Special Collections Building on Hull Street on Tuesday, September 6, 2011. The Russell Library will remain open for research at its current location through September 2, 2011.

Until September 6, 2011, visitors to the Russell Library should use the main entrance of the Main Library building and alert the representatives at the security desk that they need to have access to the Russell Library. Once the move begins on September 6, the Russell Library will close for all research until early November.

After the move concludes, the Russell will reopen for research in the new Special Collections Building located at 300 Hull St. (behind the Holiday Inn on Broad St.)

Research access during this transitional time (late fall) will be limited. To use Russell Library collections during this period, researchers should make advance arrangements for access by contacting Jill Severn at

The Special Collections Libraries Building will reopen to the public with normal service in January 2012.


Please direct questions related to accessing Russell Collections during the fall semester to Jill Severn (706-542-5766 or

For More information…

To keep abreast of what’s happening with the Russell Library’s move, check out the following links and locations:

Russell Library Blog:, Topic of Discussion "On the Move"
• Stories about preparing the collections to move
• developing the new exhibit spaces
• Service and Access Bulletins
• Move Schedules

Russell Library on Twitter: @RussellLibrary
• Current updates
• Links
• Alerts
• Photos

For information and updates about the New Special Collections Building and the transition of collections and services for Russell Library, Hargrett Library, and Brown Media Archives from their current location to the new building, please visit the Special Collections Building Web Page:

OR, the UGA Libraries’ News Blog:

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Construction Alert for Russell Library Entrance

Beginning on August 8, 2011, the public entrance to the Russell Library will close for construction of a temporary loading dock. This work is the first step in a longer process to moving the Russell Library and its collections to its new facility on Hull Street. Updates related to this process—including closing and opening dates for the Russell Library during the fall semester and the process for accessing Russell collections in the new Special Collections building—will be posted to the UGA Libraries Blog and here on the Russell Library Blog.

Visitors to the Russell Library should use the main entrance of the Library building and alert the representatives at the security desk that they need to have access to the Russell Library. Please direct questions related to accessing Russell Collections during the fall semester to Jill Severn at 706-542-5766 or