|Title:||Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 057 Keith Mason|
|Creator||Mason, Keith, 1960-|
|Dates||2008 November 18|
|Repository||Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies|
|Abstract||Keith Mason volunteered for Jimmy Carter and worked for Zell Miller in Miller’s 1974 run for lieutenant governor. He continued to work for Miller, establishing himself as an advisor during Miller’s gubernatorial race in 1990, and becoming Governor Miller’s executive secretary during Miller’s first term. In 1993, he joined President Bill Clinton’s administration, and served as deputy assistant and deputy director for Intergovernmental Affairs, making him the liaison between the White House and state governors. He also served as a transition advisor to Governor Roy Barnes and as an advisor during Miller’s time in the senate. In this interview, Mason discusses his work on political campaigns, his work with Zell Miller, and his time with Clinton's administration.|
Reflections on Georgia Politics began in the fall of 2006 at Young Harris College, as a lecture and discussion program hosted by Georgia political veteran Bob Short. In late 2007, the Richard B. Russell Library began producing the program as an oral history video series to further illuminate and personalize the tectonic shifts that occurred in Georgia politics in the late twentieth century.
Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 057, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia, 30602-1641.
Resources may be used under the guidelines described by the U.S. Copyright Office in Section 107, Title 17, United States Code (Fair use). Parties interested in production or commercial use of the resources should contact the Russell Library for a fee schedule.
Keith Mason was born in Snellville, Georgia, on September 20, 1960. His father, Wayne Mason, was former Chairman of the Gwinnett County Commission and introduced his son to Zell Miller, who was running for Lieutenant Governor in 1974. As a teenager, Mason accompanied Zell and Shirley Miller on several campaigning trips and Miller was impressed with the Mason’s knowledge of state issues and current proposed legislation.
After graduating high school in 1978, Mason coordinated Miller’s re-election campaign in East Georgia’s tenth congressional district. He entered the University of Georgia in the fall and studied finance. He became active in the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity as an undergraduate and remained in Athens to attend law school at the university, graduating in 1985. During college and law school, he served as chairman of United States Senator Sam Nunn’s youth organization, and worked on Nunn’s senate campaigns in 1978 and 1984. Mason served as a legislative aid for Lieutenant Governor Miller, served as an assistant in 1980, and worked on both Miller’s 1982 and 1986 re-election campaigns.
In 1988, Mason worked for Miller as a fundraiser for his 1990 gubernatorial campaign and then became the campaign manager for Miller’s successful run against Andrew Young in the Democratic primary and Johnny Isakson in the general election. Mason was appointed Miller’s Executive Secretary and was responsible for advising the governor on legislation and overall strategy.
In July 1993, Mason left the Miller Administration to work in the White House as Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. In the Clinton administration, Mason worked to foster good working relationships between the president and U.S. governors. He alerted governors of legislation important to their states, smoothed over differences, and streamlined bureaucracy. In December 1995, Mason resigned and returned to Atlanta.
Mason discusses his childhood in Snellville, Georgia, including working on his family's political campaigns as a young boy and his volunteer work for Jimmy Carter's gubernatorial campaign. He also discusses working his work on Zell Miller's campaigns for lieutenant governor and then for Congress, commenting on Zell Miller's character and campaign strategy. Mason also discusses working with James Carville and Paul Begala.
Mason discusses his time as executive secretary for Zell Miller. He recalls the professional relationship between Miller and Tom Murphy and explains the administration's effort in passing the lottery and the HOPE Scholarship. Mason recalls his time campaigning for Bill Clinton, Zell Miller's relationship with Clinton, and the alteration of the campaign primary process in 1992. He recalls his experience with reapportionment and Governor Miller's approach to governing in a recession. Mason discusses Miller's attempt to change the state flag and alter the Highway Commission. Mason describes his involvement in Governor Roy Barnes' appointment of Miller to U.S. Senate and also comments on Miller's speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention.
Mason recalls his work as a liaison between governors and President Clinton as a deputy assistant and deputy director for Intergovernmental Affairs. He also discusses Hilary Clinton's role in Bill Clinton's presidency and her subsequent presidential campaign in 2008.