This week on The Georgia Politics Podcast, we discuss former Georgia governor and U.S. Senator Zell Miller and his landmark achievement – the HOPE Scholarship – which was implemented 30 years ago this year.
Joan Carr, Senator Miller’s former Chief of Staff, joins the show alongside Georgia State University Professor Adam Stone to talk about the late Senator’s legacy.
After serving as Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor from 1975-1991 he won the race to be Georgia’s Governor when he defeated Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young and future Governor Roy Barnes in the Democratic primary and then Republican Johnny Isakson in the general. Isakson would later succeed Miller in the U.S. Senate.
He is probably best known for paving the way for the HOPE Scholarship, which paid the college tuitions of all Georgia students who graduated high school with a 3.0 GPA and then maintained the same in college. The scholarship was funded by revenues collected from the state lottery.
After his tenure as Governor, his successor – Roy Barnes – appointed Miller to the U.S. Senate to succeed Republican Paul Coverdell upon his death in 2000. He defeated former U.S. Senator and guest of The Georgia Politics Podcast, Mack Mattingly, in a special election to keep the seat in November of that year.
His tenure in the Senate was often known for his criticism of fellow Democrats, but he is also known for being the only person to serve as the keynote speaker at both national party’s Presidential conventions, doing so for Democrat Bill Cliton’s 1992 run for President and then later for Republican George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign.
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