Business-friendly attitude seems to belie political affiliations
Phillips comments briefly on his fears that his party affiliation as a Democrat would scuttle his chances of joining Governor Jim Martin's Republican administration, especially as Secretary of Commerce. But Phillips, whose party membership seems to stem from the pre-civil rights movement era, soon demonstrated that he was business-friendly enough to please Republicans who were concerned with his appointment.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with S. Davis (Dave) Phillips, January 27, 1999. Interview I-0084. 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
JM: In my work for the Program a couple of years ago, I did a series on politics in the '60s and that spun off a series on North Carolina GOP particularly reaching back even further. One of the themes was the broad transformation away from the traditional () to the Democrat party in the South over to especially in national and statewide elections to elect a lot of Republicans in the last ten or twenty years, a broad shift in the South in that in those years. Can you talk about your sense of the parties in the South? Why for example Dave Phillips is maybe still a Democrat when as you say some people might have taken your measure and said I bet he's in the GOP?
DP: My father was the Democratic mayor of High Point. I came along and just registered as Democrat back in the late '50s early '60s, I guess. Just never changed. My wife is a Republican. I've always been real open as to whom I support. It's, when Jim Martin asked me to be on DOT board. He called me up and said, 'Would you serve?' I said, 'I'd love to.' He said, 'What's your party; what's your party affiliation?' I figured well that's going to be the shortest appointment in history. I said, 'I'm a Democrat.' He said, 'We thought so. We heard a rumor that you were.' But he said, 'We're looking for a Democrat. Under law we have to have one of the opposing party.' So I served on the board and loved it. And when I was announced to be Secretary of Commerce, the board about fainted because they never knew I was a Democrat. They always thought I was one of their Republicans. So I mean I don't think it makes a whole lot of difference. I think people today, I mean the ones that are really serious about running for office, they've got to line up, but the business community I don't think it makes a whole lot of difference. A person called me yesterday and said, 'I understand that you're going to be giving to so and so but would you give to me?' I said, 'Yeah. I like you as a person and I wish you well. I admire you for having the courage to do what you're doing.'