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Jeff Davis
Jeff Davis

Jeff Davis is a retired radio-TV journalist living in Gainesville, GA. Active in civic and political affairs, he is past president of the Georgia Jaycees and former campaign chairman of the Georgia Republican party. He volunteers as chairman of the Georgia Heritage Council. He is a collateral descendant of President Jefferson Davis and a member of SCV Camp 1404 in Gainesville and National Chairman of Public Relations and Media for SCV.

Gingrich Correctly Remembers What Georgia Republicans Ignore Or Forgot
Commentary by J. A. Davis
, 1/26/2011

"I helped create the modern Republican Party in Georgia starting in 1960." --Newt Gingrich

It was very interesting to read a quote from Newt Gingrich in a recent column by Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The reason it is interesting is because Newt has correctly identified the founding of the modern Republican Party in Georgia. He points out it was in 1960 and he was part of it.

You might say how could that be? He couldn't have been more than 17 at the time. That's what makes the story interesting.

I should say that what follows is not an advocacy for Newt, we don't do that at the Georgia Heritage Council. It is some accurate political history.

GOP Ascendency & Revisionism: Southern Strategy Vindicated - J.A. Davis 5/26/07

Southern Strategy editorial rebutted - J.A. Davis 11/22/05

Forget Party! Vote for REAL Conservatives - J. A. Davis 11/14/05

Confusing 'Republican' and 'Conservative' - J.A. Davis 9/22/05

Tribute to a Friend, Adversary and Friend Again, Ernest Vandiver - J.A. Davis 2/23/05

As chairman of the Georgia Republican Campaign Committee in the early sixties, I can provide a great deal of the history that to my knowledge has never been reported (except by me as in our archive items above). Indeed, historians and the party itself have never correctly focused on the complete overhaul of the new Republican efforts in Georgia, beginning in 1960.

The aspect about Newt is unique. During August or September of 1960 I was in my office in Atlanta when our receptionist notified me that a young man had come to see me. He told her he didn't have an appointment but it was so important that he had gotten up early that morning in Columbus, got on a bus and came to see me. It almost seemed to me that he had convinced her to plead his case. I invited him in for what became a long discussion.

We established he was a junior at Baker High School in Columbus. His Dad was career army at Fort Benning. He was pretty aware of some of the early accomplishments in the campaign including our ability to get Richard Nixon to come to Georgia in August and the alliance I seemed to have with Mayor William Hartsfield, a Democrat, which helped in putting together what has been described as the largest political crowd in Georgia history, 300,000 in Atlanta to see and hear Dick Nixon.

Young Mr. Gingrich had a lot of ideas. He pleaded their acceptance with robust enthusiasm. I thought him so sincere that I carefully tried to explain my optimism while at the same time felt I should level with him about some of our limitations and drawbacks.

Among them were: the fact that the most votes a recent Republican candidate for president had won in Georgia was 28 percent and that was a national hero, Dwight Eisenhower. He understood and felt we would do better in 1960.

I also explained how I was totally immersed in bringing the black Republicans back actively in the party. Many left in disgust after the 1952 Republican Convention where a group of moderates had them unseated in a credentials battle. The blacks were more conservative, backing Robert Taft of Ohio while the moderates backed Eisenhower.

Among the limitations, I explained our budget (Georgia) for the entire presidential campaign was around $18,000. Yes, that's thousands, meaning our staff for three months was limited to three people, myself, our receptionist-secretary and a PR person. It included travel and all expenses, other than office rent for three months, paid by the Central Committee.

We discussed some strategy based on our limitations. I explained how we were in the process of organizing ten targeted areas of volunteers and for the first time, forming a precinct organization in those counties.

As things turned out, our ragged campaign managed to build the founding base for the new Republican efforts in Georgia that Newt pointed out. We took the vote total up about ten percent, the largest increase in the nation, to almost 38 percent making for a viable competitive base in the future. We were able to involve the black community and carried a sizeable portion of the black vote. In doing so, we were able to overcome any critics who wished they could call us a "white" party. Republicans today should only hope for the black percentages we had. We had not one complaint of religious bias against our Catholic opponent.

We involved volunteers throughout the state but particularly in the ten targeted areas where for the first time in modern history, we carried most of those counties and some adjacent ones as well. Even more, we were able to identify counties where we could start local efforts for local offices.

As a result of the volunteers throughout the state, we built experienced leadership and a basic precinct organization that served well as we began successfully looking at congressional and state legislative seats in the years to follow. The record speaks for itself what those results were and continue to be today.

It's about time that all those great Georgians who were volunteers got some recognition for their contributions in developing something sorely missing, a two party system in Georgia.

Regardless of your political leanings and which way you choose in the future, the legacy of two party politics in Georgia derives from the brave souls who made that happen in 1960. I'm proud to have been associated with them. Years of victories beginning in 1964 to this very day are a tribute to them.

There are many more illuminating stories to be told of these humble beginnings, not just in Georgia but in states where I later worked such as Kentucky and Virginia that have somehow been among the missing when the history of the new Republican party in the South is written.

"My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is 'needed' before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible."
-- Sen. Barry Goldwater, The Conscience of a Conservative, 1960

“May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation's great goals.” -- Dwight D. Eisenhower, farewell address Jan. 17, 1961

“I believe that continued deficit spending is immoral.” -- Dwight D. Eisenhower, June 1, 1961

Jeff Davis is a retired radio-TV journalist living in Gainesville, GA. Active in civic and political affairs, he is past president of the Georgia Jaycees and former campaign chairman of the Georgia Republican party. He volunteers as chairman of the Georgia Heritage Council. He is a collateral descendant of President Jefferson Davis and a member of SCV Camp 1404 in Gainesville and National Chairman of Public Relations and Media for SCV.

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Related Links
The Pendulum Swings - Deo Vindice - Commentary by J.A. Davis 3/26/10

Deception, Duplicity and Manipulative Government - Commentary by J.A. Davis 3/12/10

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Empires: Complexity and Collapse - Commentary by J.A. Davis 3/09/10

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Worse Than We're Told; Next Election Cycle May Be Too Late - Commentary by J.A. Davis 2/27/10

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Washington's Integrity - Steve Scroggins 2/22/10

Voting Rights, Responsibilities (Part 2) - Steve Scroggins 2/19/10

Defending Truth is Doing One's Duty - J.A. Davis 1/31/10

A Troubled New Year - J.A. Davis 12/31/09

A Fine Mess - J.A. Davis 12/11/09

Liberty Lost Part 9 - Rebirth of the Republic - J.A. Davis

SPLC Reputation as Frauds and Conmen Grows - J.A. Davis & Steve Scroggins

Perils of Democracy, Part 5 - J.A. Davis & Steve Scroggins

Black History Month and 'Civil War Memory' - Bill Vallante 2/01/10

Climate Fraud Shows Government is the Problem - Frank Gillispie, 12/03/09

Climategate is a symptom, not the disease - Jim Dean, 12/2/09

The American Ideal of 1776: The Twelve Basic American Principles - Hamilton Abert Long

Liberty Lost - Part 8 - J.A. Davis


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