Promises Fulfilled and Left Empty
First Term as Governor
“Campaign promises, and pledges are sacred and every official who comes in office should give his first consideration to carrying out the promises made to the people of the State...
The reduction of the cost of automobile tags was one of the principal issues advocated by me in my campaign before the people of the State last summer and bears the endorsement of the people. They expect to buy their tags this year for $3.00, and you can give this to them in a few days. This will allow a poor farmer to drive a $12.00 car without having to pay $11.25 for a tag. The reduction of the automobile tag to $3.00 would leave with our people over three million dollars to supply their needs, to help buy gasoline, to help buy schoolbooks, to buy clothing and other absolute necessities of life.
I do not know of anything that would help the people of Georgia more and help business more than to put three million dollars in the pockets of the people of the State.”
Editor's Note: During Talmadge’s first term as governor, he worked towards fulfilling his campaign promises and easily won reelection in 1934. Talmadge often used executive orders and force to successfully achieve his promises and pledges to Georgians. In the excerpt above, Talmadge addressed the Georgia legislature and demanded a reduction in the cost of automobile tags. When the state legislature refused to do so, Talmadge circumvented the legislature and issued an executive order to lower the cost.
Throughout his time as governor, Talmadge’s actions and policies won him both passionate supporters and harsh critics. As governor, Talmadge disbanded and replaced the Public Service Commission when it refused to lower utility rates, he significantly reduced the state budget, and he called on the state militia to forcibly remove public officials who did not cooperate with his orders.
One of Talmadge's goals as governor was to expand the limited powers the governor possessed under the state constitution. The Georgia constitution at this time aimed to limit the powers of the governor. However, Talmadge stretched these limited powers (the veto, executive order, and martial law) to ensure his will was carried out. Talmadge’s opponents accused him of being a dictator while his supporters praised him as their best defender.