UCLA Library Acquires Papers of Campaign Strategist Garry South

Called “the Carville of California” by the New York Times, Democratic political consultant Garry South has donated his extensive campaign archives to the UCLA Library.  

 Offering unique insight into the political process, the collection, which features materials from three of California Gov. Gray Davis’ campaigns for statewide office, testifies to the secretive, arcane art of crafting successful campaign strategies and is thought to be one of the most complete campaign archives in existence. 

 South managed Davis’ campaigns for California lieutenant governor in 1994 and governor in 1998 and 2002; advised on campaigns for Jimmy Carter, Al Gore and Joe Lieberman; and has had an extensive career in Democratic Party politics. For Davis’ 1998 gubernatorial campaign, South was named “Campaign Manager of the Year” by the American Association of Political Consultants, an honor he shares with Karl Rove, James Carville and the late Lee Atwater. 

 We are honored to accept this unique and timely collection. Broad public knowledge about campaign operations is essential in a healthy democracy, and we look forward to making these materials widely accessible to students, scholars and the general public. The collection is not only significant, but Mr. South has tranferred all rights to the material to the UCLA Library which will provide full access to faculty and students who wish to use the material to study campaigns.

 The collection contains research files, correspondence, campaign materials, poll data and clippings, as well as recordings of commercials, news coverage and debates. Of particular note are extensive research files on Davis’ opponents in primaries or general elections, including Al Checchi, Jane Harman, Dan Lungren, Bill Simon and Richard Riordan.

 South has also given the UCLA Library the copyright to the materials so that they can be digitized and made available for nonprofit educational and informational uses. The collection is housed in UCLA Library Special Collections

 “I am delighted to donate my campaign archives to such a world-class facility as the UCLA Library,” South said. “Too many campaign documents routinely end up in the dumpster or shredder after the election. As someone with a degree in American history, I thought it was important to make these materials permanently available for study by those seeking to better understand the campaign process.” 

 On Wednesday, Oct. 17, the UCLA Library hosted a panel discussion featuring South and UCLA professors Jeffrey B. Lewis, Mark A. Peterson and Lynn Vavreck. The panelists offered inside details on “how the sausage is made” in political campaigns and discussed the importance of public knowledge about campaign operations in a healthy democratic society. Co-sponsored by the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, the Center for the Study of Campaigns, and the Department of Political Science, the event also included comments from The Honorable Gray David, California’s thirty-seventh governor and the Honorable James Brulte, former Republican leader in the California State Senate and Assembly.

 

The Honorable Gray Davis addresses the gathering.

Strong joins Garry South (left) and James Brulte at the event.

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