COLUMBIA — In a state where people spend their weekends re-enacting what happened in 1865, former South Carolina Gov. David Beasley is hoping voters can forget what went on just a few years ago.
In 1998, Beasley lost his re-election bid after he pushed to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse dome. Now he is running for the Republican nomination to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, whose seat is up for grabs for the first time in nearly 40 years.
While Beasley, 47, enjoys a clear lead over the five other Republicans heading into Tuesday’s primary, political observers question whether the one-term governor can shake his past.
A runoff for the GOP nomination appears unavoidable. And if Beasley survives a runoff, he is expected to face a promising, conservative Democrat in the fall: state Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum.
“In modern American history, a governor who is turned out of office usually does not gain high office again,” said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato, who specializes in presidential and Southern politics.