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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, December 16 and 18, 1986. Interview C-0038. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Accepting an appointment to a vacated seat may be a political mistake

Republican Congressman Jim Broyhill accepted an appointment to the seat vacated by John East, a Republican who committed suicide in 1986. Sanford muses on the wisdom of accepting such an appointment. He thinks that refusing the appointment then running for the seat is wiser, a move he dubs "the Unruh Maneuver" after a California politician who offered that advice to a colleague.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, December 16 and 18, 1986. Interview C-0038. 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

BRENT GLASS:
Just to backtrack on tactics for one second, do you think Broyhill made a mistake in being appointed senator? You have any speculation on that?
TERRY SANFORD:
Yeah, well, only one way did he make a mistake. Let's just say that he hadn't been that close to the Governor, and the Governor didn't offer it to him. Then he would have been worse off than he was by getting it. It helped him a great deal to have it. There's no question in my mind that it gave him a tremendous advantage. Now, obviously, I wasn't going to say during the campaign, "Oh my, you know he's got us now." It was a slight shock to see East have to be replaced. None of that tended to help me but he could have killed us if he had done it a different way. That's what I was afraid they were going to be smart enough to do.
BRENT GLASS:
What was that?
TERRY SANFORD:
That was to have it offered to him and turn it down and [say] "Let's let the people decide this. I don't want the people to think that I'm trying to get any special advantage. I'm running on my record. I'm going to the people, and let's let the people decide. I suggested that he, just out of courtesy and sentiment and appreciation, name Mrs. East. That's the way I wanted it." Then Martin would say a day or two later, well, it's not the way I want it but I'd have to admire Broyhill.
BRENT GLASS:
That would have been tough, that would have been very, very…
TERRY SANFORD:
We had already put out the word that they might try the "Unruh Maneuver," because that was the only way we figured we could get any kind of defense—is to make it look like it was just a deliberate part acted out just for political reasons.
BRENT GLASS:
The Unruh maneuver?
TERRY SANFORD:
That's right. See that's the first thing the members of the press said, "The Unruh maneuver?" [Laughter] Well, I invented that on the basis that when Pierre Sallinger ran for the democratic nomination against Alan Cranston and beat him… Then Clare Ingalls, Senator from California died. The vacant seat, and he was running against Murphy, was Pierre's for the asking. Jess Unruh, who had been California's Speaker of the House, a power in politics, now the treasurer and really a solid figure and a good friend of mine—Jess advised him not to take it. He said, "If you don't take it, you'll win. If you do take it, you'll lose." So the Unruh maneuver was not to take it, to turn it down with a show of humility. Pierre did take it. He did lose. So we were going to say it was the "Unruh maneuver," that Broyhill had been offered it so he could turn it down to obtain that effect. Now, we might have beat him anyhow. But see, the Unruh advice was that he'd win if he didn't take it. It probably would have been, if there had been an Unruh sitting here saying, "Don't take it, Jim," and if he hadn't taken it, he would have been better off than he was because he certainly didn't win by taking it. I felt at the time that it gave him a lot more credibility. I think if you followed it on through, he had a lot more credibility. I then was having to unseat him instead of our running for the office. The headline ran, even in the local paper, "SANFORD UNSEATS BROYHILL." Well, the hell I did. I won an empty seat for all practical purposes except for that month or two. It looked like I was trying to unseat him, and that made it more difficult. You know that was an honest evaluation. The editorial, I mean the headline writer, probably in all—if he was like most newspaper people—he was privately for me. He wasn't, you know, he wasn't distorting—that's the way it's perceived. Well, here's the Senator, and he's unseated him.