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Sen. Hollings Prepares For A Fifth Term

By Charlie Cook

South Carolina Senate Despite earlier speculation that he would retire, Democratic Sen. Fritz Hollings appears to be preparing a bid for a fifth full term. He has opened a campaign office and is expected to report having $773,000 in the bank. A number of Democratic candidates looked at the race and decided not to run, either because Hollings made it clear to them that he would run or because the state's Republican nature makes Hollings perhaps the only Democrat who could hold the seat.

Now that Hollings has made his decision, activity on the Republican side has gained the attention of observers and the media and is pretty interesting to watch. The one announced candidate to date is Rep. Bob Inglis, who represents the 4th Congressional District, located in the northwest part of the state and including Greenville and Spartanburg. Inglis, 37, was first elected in 1992, defeating Democratic incumbent Liz Patterson. He won that race with just 50 percent of the vote, but got only minor opposition in 1994, winning re-election with 73 percent. He was re-elected in 1996 with 71 percent. A lawyer, Inglis had not held political office before running for Congress.

Inglis has been traveling the state raising money and attempting to appeal to Democrats as well as Republicans. He has targeted African-American voters by talking about the GOP's "opportunity agenda," but got himself into some trouble with Republicans when he criticized the now famous "Southern strategy" used by Republicans to make significant electoral gains at all levels in the region. While many Democrats probably agreed with Inglis' statements, he angered Republican party leaders and donors who played a role in implementing the strategy.

Other Republicans looked at the race and decided not to run, such as Attorney General Charlie Condon, but there is one more potential candidate looming out there: former GOP Gov. Carroll Campbell. Although Campbell left office in 1994, he remains a popular figure in the state. He currently heads the American Council of Life Insurance in Washington, but maintains a home in the state. Campbell is widely believed to have national political aspirations and if he hopes to realize them, doing so from the Senate is probably more preferable than doing so from a trade association (read: special interest).

Democrats are looking for signs that he won't run, while many Republicans are looking for signs that he will. One clue that he might make the race is that his house in Washington is currently on the market. Unlike many candidates, Campbell does not have to make a decision quickly. He is still very well regarded by voters and can raise ample funds for the race, regardless of when he makes a decision.

One unknown factor that could change the face of this race is GOP Sen. Strom Thurmond. At 94, Thurmond won re-election last year and recently broke the record for service in the Senate. But, given his age and the fact that he has cemented his place in history, the rumors that Thurmond will retire soon are rampant. If he does retire, GOP Gov. David Beasley could appoint a replacement and that would probably be Campbell. But rumors are just that, and Thurmond shows no real signs of wanting to leave. At his age, though, it will remain an open possibility.

Campbell would pose the biggest threat to Hollings. The state seems firmly planted in the Republican column and Hollings had a very close call in 1992, winning re-election with just 50 percent of the vote against then-Rep. Tommy Hartnett, despite outraising his challenger $3.6 million to $886,000. That performance puts Hollings near the top of the GOP target list.

Hollings has been tending the home fires and voted against the budget accord and for the partial-birth abortion ban. Still, he knows this campaign will not be easy. It will be a competitive race, regardless of who runs, but if Campbell gets in, Hollings will become the underdog.

Spotlight Archives:

Pennsylvania's 15th C.D. Looks Competitive (12/09/97)
In Idaho, A Rare Opportunity For Dems (11/19/97)
Stay The Course (11/6/97)
Car-Tax Issue Lifts Gilmore In Virginia (10/23/97)
New Jersey Governor's Race Down To The Wire (10/9/97)
Idaho Scramble: Who's Running For What? (9/25/97)
Hawaii's 1st C.D. Looks Like A Powder Keg (9/10/97)
Molinari's Departures Leaves Opening For Dems (8/25/97)
Georgia Governor's Race A Free-For-All (8/12/97)
Rep. Jon Fox Faces A One-Two Punch (7/30/97)
Sen. Hollings Prepares For A Fifth Term (7/22/97)
The House: Looking Ahead To 1998 (7/15/97)
Sen. Bond Has Re-election Edge (7/7/97)
Bumpers' Decision Encourages GOP (7/3/97)
Kentucky Senatorial Race A Toss-Up (6/24/97)
Nevada's Senator Reid Looks Like An Early Favorite (6/17/97)
1998 Gubernatorial Ratings (6/17/97)
Indiana's Evan Bayh Could Reclaim His Father's Old Senate Seat (6/3/97)
Who Will Control The House After '98? (5/30/97)
New Mexico's 3rd District: Color It Republican Green (5/20/97)
Don't Look For Many Senate Retirements In '98 (5/13/97)
Louisiana Senate, 1996: It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over (5/5/97)
Rothenberg's Senate Re-election Ratings (4/25/97)
Dem, GOP Tests In Connecticut, Arizona (4/9/97)
Don't Count Al D'Amato Out Yet (3/25/97)
Whitman A Favorite In New Jersey (2/25/97)
Sen. Boxer Could Be Vulnerable (2/11/97)
Impressive Bloodlines In Minnesota Governor's Race (1/28/97)
Looking Ahead To '98 Gubernatorial Races In California, Florida (1/23/97)
Rothenberg's Senate Ratings (1/23/97)
Family Feud: The Fight for RNC Chairman (1/10/97)

Spotlight 1996

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