Press Release

Former Gov. Jim Martin to discuss new biography Oct. 6 in Raleigh

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NOT FOR PUBLICATION: Former Gov. Jim Martin and biographer John Hood will be available for media interviews in connection with this event. Contact Mitch Kokai for details.

RALEIGH — Former Gov. Jim Martin will discuss on Tuesday, Oct. 6, in Raleigh a new biography detailing his “essential but underappreciated” role in N.C. Republicans’ recent electoral success.

The 5:30 p.m. event at the N.C. Museum of History is scheduled the same day as the release of Catalyst: Jim Martin and the Rise of North Carolina Republicans. Martin and biographer John Hood, chairman of the John Locke Foundation, will share stories from the book and sign copies after their formal presentation.

“As a local politician, congressman, governor, and senior statesman, Martin helped prepare North Carolina’s Republican Party for its historic rise to power,” writes Hood, chairman of the John Locke Foundation. “Every time he campaigned for office, he won. Along the way, and not by accident, the fortunes of his political party rose as he did.”

Hood documents Martin’s work to help transform a once solidly Democratic North Carolina into a state capable today of placing all three branches of state government, both U.S. Senate seats, and a solid majority of the state’s congressional delegation in Republican hands.

From reform-minded Davidson College chemistry professor, to Mecklenburg County commission chairman, to 12-year member of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1970s and 1980s, to the state’s only two-term Republican governor of the 20th century from 1985 to 1993, Martin consistently served as a “catalyst” for important changes in North Carolina’s political history, in Hood’s words.

“As a Republican governor in what had been a strongly Democratic state, Martin enjoyed remarkable success in translating his policy agenda into law,” Hood writes.

“His blending of pro-growth tax policies with a coherent strategy for improving core public services — an approach Martin called ‘constructive conservatism’ — served to give an entire generation of Republicans the tools they needed not only to win elections for local and state offices later on but also to govern effectively.”

Unlike other titans of late 20th-century Tar Heel politics, Martin was able to transition effectively between federal and state elected offices, Hood explains. Seeing things “from a telescopic range,” in the words of a key aide, Martin was able “to connect the conservative rhetoric North Carolinians expected from Republican candidates with the practical solutions they wanted from governors,” Hood writes.

While Republicans appear to have the upper hand in North Carolina politics in 2015, more than two decades after Martin left office, the “party trailblazer and coach” labels Democrats’ efforts to regain power as “healthy,” Hood writes.

Reflecting his academic roots in chemistry, Martin contends political cultures ought to be “fluid” rather than static, with “two parties vying with one another, bringing out their best candidates, sometimes missing that responsibility and having to pay for it.”

“Throughout his political career, Jim Martin both fostered and thrived in such a culture,” Hood writes. “In the process, he set an example for North Carolinians of all persuasions to study, admire, and emulate.”

Copies of Catalyst will be available for purchase at the N.C. Museum of History event. The book also is available from local booksellers, online vendors, and publisher John F. Blair (

This is Hood’s seventh book. The others include Our Best Foot Forward: An Investment Plan for North Carolina’s Economic Recovery (2012), Selling the Dream: Why Advertising is Good Business (2005), Investor Politics (2001), The Heroic Enterprise: Business and the Common Good (1996), and two volumes of family history.

For more information about the Oct. 6 event, please visit or call 866-JLF-INFO.

For more information, please contact Mitch Kokai at (919) 306-8736 or [email protected].

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About John Locke Foundation

We are North Carolina’s Most Trusted and Influential Source of Common Sense. The John Locke Foundation was created in 1990 as an independent, nonprofit think tank that would work “for truth, for freedom, and for the future of North Carolina.” The Foundation is named for John Locke (1632-1704), an English philosopher whose writings inspired Thomas Jefferson and the other Founders.

The John Locke Foundation is a 501(c)(3) research institute and is funded solely from voluntary contributions from individuals, corporations, and charitable foundations.