|68th Governor of North Carolina|
January 5, 1973 – January 8, 1977
|Preceded by||Robert Scott|
|Succeeded by||Jim Hunt|
|Member of the North Carolina House of Representatives|
|Chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party|
James Eubert Holshouser Jr.
October 8, 1934
Boone, North Carolina, U.S.
|Died||June 17, 2013 (aged 78)|
Pinehurst, North Carolina, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Patricia Ann Hollingsworth|
|Alma mater||Davidson College|
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
James Eubert Holshouser Jr. (October 8, 1934 – June 17, 2013) was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 68th Governor of the state of North Carolina from 1973 to 1977. He was the first Republican candidate to be elected as governor since 1896, when Republican Daniel L. Russell was elected as a Fusionist candidate. Holshouser's election reflected the new political realignment of the South.
Holshouser was born in Boone, North Carolina in 1934 and was the son of James E. "Peck" Holshouser, who was United States Attorney in the middle district of North Carolina under President Dwight Eisenhower.
Early political career
In 1962, two years after graduating from the University of North Carolina School of Law, Holshouser was elected to the first of several terms representing Watauga County in the North Carolina House of Representatives, eventually becoming minority leader. North Carolina had been virtually a one-party, Democratic-dominated state since disfranchisement of blacks in 1899; Holshouser came from one of the few areas of the state where the GOP even existed. During the 1960s and 1970s, however, a number of Southern whites began shifting their support to the Republicans.
He chaired the state Republican Party from 1966 through 1972, following passage of federal civil rights legislation in 1964 and 1965 that ended segregation and authorized federal oversight and enforcement of suffrage for African Americans.
In 1972, Holshouser defeated Jim Gardner for the Republican nomination for Governor, and then narrowly defeated Democrat Skipper Bowles in the general election with 51 percent of the vote, becoming North Carolina's first Republican governor elected since 1896. He was likely the beneficiary of coattails from Richard Nixon, who carried North Carolina and 48 other states in the Presidential election on the same ticket. Electorally, he performed well among women and younger voters, while also appealing more to blacks than more conservative Republicans such as Gardner and U.S. Senator Jesse Helms. At age 38, Holshouser was also the state's youngest governor since the nineteenth century. Upon taking office, he fired many incumbent state employees to accommodate the awarding of patronage to hundreds of Republicans who had been unable to work in the state administration under Democratic control.
Holshouser lacked executive experience upon assuming gubernatorial office, and had a tenancy to react to others' proposals rather than create his own. With no veto power over the Democratic-dominated General Assembly, he also tried to avoid political conflict except over explicitly partisan issues. In some instances the legislature attempted to weaken the powers of his office. Party association aside, Holshouser maintain a good relationship with the Assembly, as most of its members had known him when he was a state representative. He enjoyed a good working relationship with Lieutenant Governor Jim Hunt, who held sway in the legislature, and during their first two years as governor they minimized partisanship in dealing with each other. Holshouser came into office when North Carolina had a $265 million budget surplus, which enabled him to fulfill some of his campaign promises. He consulted Hunt on budget proposals and incorporated his plan to expand kindergarten in state education systems in his January 1973 budget. The plan was passed into law, and was gradually phased in so that by 1977 all children in North Carolina would be enrolled in kindergarten. His budget also expanded funding for state parks. Holshouser and Hunt encouraged the state legislature to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution, but it failed approval.
Holshouser was a moderate Republican, which caused some chagrin among many members of his own party. The governor supported Gerald Ford for president in 1976, while Helms (a former Democrat) supported Ronald Reagan. When Reagan won the North Carolina presidential preference primary of 1976, the Republican state convention refused to appoint Holshouser as a delegate to the Republican National Convention.
His accomplishments in office included consolidation of the University of North Carolina system under a Board of Governors, capital improvement funding for the community college system, statewide enrollment for children in kindergarten, and establishment of health clinics in rural areas not served by local physicians. He could not run for reelection in 1976. North Carolina governors were barred from immediate reelection at the time; while the state constitution had been amended to allow governors to run for reelection, this was not slated to take effect until 1976.
After leaving office, Holshouser returned to the practice of law (at one point forming a firm with former Democratic Gov. Terry Sanford), was elected to the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina, and later served as a member emeritus. He also served on the Boards of St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, NC, and his undergraduate alma mater, Davidson College.
Holshouser eventually became great friends with Democratic Lieutenant Governor Jim Hunt, who succeeded him in 1976. They served together on the North Carolina Advisory Board of DonorsChoose. Late in life, Holshouser campaigned alongside Hunt for state-funded judicial elections.
He died on the morning of June 17, 2013.
Legacy and honors
- Holshouser Hall, a residence hall at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is named in his honor.
- A stretch of US 321 between Boone and Blowing Rock is named for him.
- Professorships were endowed in his honor at both Appalachian State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
- Holshouser was honored with the North Carolina Award in 2006; it is the state's highest civilian honor. 
- Christensen, Rob. "Jim Holshouser, former North Carolina governor, dies at 78."
- Christensen 2010, p. 229.
- Bass 1995, p. 238.
- Fleer 1994, p. 109.
- Grimsley 2003, pp. 89–90.
- Grimsley 2003, p. 91.
- Grimsley 2003, p. 90.
- "Opinion: Our Views - Public Funding of Judicial Races Works", Rocky Mount Telegram
- "Governor McCrory Offers Condolences to Family of Governor Holshouser", Governor's Office
- GOVERNOR AND FIRST LADY PRESENT STATE’S HIGHEST CIVILIAN HONOR TO SEVEN DISTINGUISHED NORTH CAROLINIANS
- Bass, Jack (1995). The Transformation of Southern Politics: Social Change and Political Consequence Since 1945 (reprint ed.). University of Georgia Press. ISBN 9780820317281.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Christensen, Rob (2010). The Paradox of Tar Heel Politics : The Personalities, Elections, and Events That Shaped Modern North Carolina (second ed.). Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-7151-5.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Fleer, Jack D. (1994). North Carolina Government & Politics. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 9780803268852.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Grimsley, Wayne (2003). James B. Hunt: A North Carolina Progressive. McFarland. ISBN 9780786416073.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- James Holshouser entry at the National Governors Association
- Biographical Timeline
- Oral History Interviews with James E. Holshouser Jr. , , ,  from Oral Histories of the American South, Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina
|Party political offices|
| Republican nominee for Governor of North Carolina
| Governor of North Carolina
January 5, 1973–January 8, 1977