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CQ Profile: CQ Profile: Gov David Beasley (R)

CQ Profile: CQ Profile: Jim Hodges (D)

AllPolitics' Election '98: South Carolina

Stuart Rothenberg on the 1998 Governor Races, State by State


Embattled GOP incumbent gives Democrats hope in S.C. governor race (9-30-98)

TIME: Catching the Starr bug (9-28-98)


David Beasley's campaign Web site

Jim Hodge's campaign Web site


Post your opinions on the November races

Democratic gamble makes S.C. governor's race white hot

By Candy Crowley/CNN

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (October 23) -- Gov. David Beasley's bid for re-election has not been the cakewalk his party expected. It has turned into one of the most surprising races in the nation because he is the Republican incumbent in a very Republican state and he is in trouble at a time in the election cycle that historically should favor his party.

This upset comes in part because Beasley's Democratic challenger is willing to take a gamble on education. Jim Hodges is betting his campaign on selling the lottery as a way to improve schools. Thus it is no coincidence that his campaign posters are the same color as a school bus.

"We are doing well in this election because of (our focus) on education. South Carolinians are ashamed that our educational system is running 50th in virtually every category," said Hodges.

Jim Hodges  

The Democratic state lawmaker wants to set up a state lottery and pump the proceeds into the school system. That campaign theme has encouraged party regulars to dream of the election of the first Democratic governor in South Carolina in 16 years.

"I believe this year, working people, people who have traditionally seen themselves as Republicans, are finally looking at pocketbook issues and deciding that education is the real key," said state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D-South Carolina). "And if we aren't serious about moving our state out of last place, we really don't have a stake in the future," she warned.

Hodges' banners can be spotted almost every where in the state. But their presence at one particular type of place, video parlors, symbolizes the other half of South Carolina's political equation.

"I get tired of that gambling crowd trying to run our schools. They don't care about our children," Beasley told one supporter. He also said he believed the South Carolina school system to be pretty good, with just a few problems.


James H. Hodges (D)
Davidson College, B.S., 1979;
U. of South Carolina, J.D.,1982.
college GPA: 3.71
law school GPA: 3.14

The incumbent governor says the only reason his opponent has any traction at all is because the video poker people, who presumedly would sell lottery tickets, are giving the Hodges campaign lots of money.

"The race is boiling down to: are we going to become an Atlantic City south? Are we going to allow organized gaming interests to buy the governor's office?" said Beasley, hinting at what could happen if his opponent wins.

As this dark scenario has grabbed the attention of the GOP faithful, it has lightened-up Beasley's campaign picture.

"I think it is becoming a race about values, I really do," said Beasley supporter Alexi Newman. "I really see it as good and evil. That people want South Carolina to stay as pure as it can and they're are willing to work for that."

Republican incumbent Beasley is charmingly southern, a natural born politician. He is the bright star in the GOP who has presided over a booming economy -- one of the best in the nation.


David Beasley (R)
U. of South Carolina, B.A., 1979, J.D., 1983.
college GPA: 3.53
Law school GPA: 2.92

Hodges is a balding, soft-spoken, slightly reticent politician who has made this a hot race with a devastating TV ad based on the fact that South Carolinians often cross the border into Georgia to play the lottery.

Gov. David Beasley  

Called the "Bubba Ad," it features a good old boy wearing a Georgia T-shirt who says South Carolinians buying lottery tickets have paid for computers in every Georgia classroom. And he thanks Beasley for not letting his constituents have a lottery.

Beasley has fired back with his own version. His good old boy tells viewers that Hodges is a "tax and spend Democrat." And if they vote for him, they better hope they win the lottery so they can afford to pay their taxes.

Perhaps even more telling about how high the lottery issue is playing in this race, Beasley has dropped his opposition to holding a referendum on the lottery.

But Beasley still has the confederate flag issue hanging over his head. And it looks like a no-win situation. He once said he wanted to move it from atop the State Capitol where it has flown for decades.

That statement angered his party base of traditionalists who stopped him. Then he angered those who see the flag as a symbol of slavery when he recently said he won't attempt to move the flag again.

"We tried to resolve it and we moved on. And I don't think it will have that much of an impact in the election. It is having perhaps some impact," Beasley said.

He will find out November 3 whether the flag questions will anger his core supporters enough to make them stay at home. And that could be critical because this race like all others will be determined by which candidate can turn out the most supporters on election day.


Friday, October 23, 1998

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