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South Carolina gubernatorial election, 1990

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

South Carolina gubernatorial election, 1990

← 1986 November 6, 1990 1994 →

Campbell, Carroll (cropped).jpg
No image.svg
Nominee Carroll A. Campbell Jr. Theo Mitchell
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 528,831 212,048
Percentage 69.5% 27.8%

Governor before election

Carroll A. Campbell, Jr.

Elected Governor

Carroll A. Campbell, Jr.

The 1990 South Carolina gubernatorial election was held on November 6, 1990 to select the governor of the state of South Carolina. Governor Carroll A. Campbell, Jr., the popular Republican incumbent, handily defeated Democrat Theo Mitchell to become only the second governor at the time elected to a second consecutive four-year term.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Dirty Tricks in American Politics: Vote Stealing, Ads, Bribery and Blackmail (1992)


Episode 21: Reconstruction Hi, I’m John Green, this is Crash Course U.S. History and huzzah! The Civil War is over! The slaves are free! Huzzah! That one hit me in the head? It’s very dangerous, Crash Course. So when you say, “Don’t aim at a person,” that includes myself? The roller coaster only goes up from here, my friends. Huzzah! Mr. Green, Mr. Green, what about the epic failure of Reconstruction? Oh, right. Stupid Reconstruction always ruining everything intro So after the Civil War ended, the United States had to reintegrate both a formerly slave population and a formerly rebellious population back into the country, which is a challenge that we might’ve met, except Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and we were left with Andrew “I am the Third Worst President Ever” Johnson. I’m sorry, Abe, but you don’t get to be in the show anymore. So, Lincoln’s whole post-war idea was to facilitate reunion and reconciliation, and Andrew Johnson’s guiding Reconstruction principle was that the South never had a right to secede in the first place. Also, because he was himself a Southerner, he resented all the elites in the South who had snubbed him, AND he was also a racist who didn’t think that blacks should have any role in Reconstruction. TRIFECTA! So between 1865 and 1867, the so-called period of Presidential Reconstruction, Johnson appointed provisional governors and ordered them to call state conventions to establish new all-white governments. And in their 100% whiteness and oppression of former slaves, those new governments looked suspiciously like the old confederate governments they had replaced. And what was changing for the former slaves? Well, in some ways, a lot. Like, Fiske and Howard universities were established, as well as many primary and secondary schools, thanks in part to The Freedman’s Bureau, which only lasted until 1870, but had the power to divide up confiscated and abandoned confederate land for former slaves. And this was very important because to most slaves, land ownership was the key to freedom, and many felt like they’d been promised land by the Union Army. Like, General Sherman’s Field Order 15, promised to distribute land in 40 acre plots to former slaves. But that didn’t happen, either through the Freedman’s Bureau or anywhere else. Instead, President Johnson ordered all land returned to its former owners. So the South remained largely agricultural with the same people owning the same land, and in the end, we ended up with sharecropping. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble. The system of sharecropping replaced slavery in many places throughout the South. Landowners would provide housing to the sharecroppers--no, Thought Bubble, not quite that nice. There ya go--also tools and seed, and then the sharecroppers received, get this, a share of their crop--usually between a third and a half, with the price for that harvest often set by the landowner. Freed blacks got to control their work, and plantation owners got a steady workforce that couldn’t easily leave, because they had little opportunity to save money and make the big capital investments in, like, land or tools. By the late 1860s, poor white farmers were sharecropping as well--in fact, by the Great Depression, most sharecroppers were white. And while sharecropping certainly wasn’t slavery, it did result in a quasi-serfdom that tied workers to land they didn’t own--more or less the opposite of Jefferson’s ideal of the small, independent farmer. So, the Republicans in Congress weren’t happy that this reconstructed south looked so much like the pre-Civil War south, so they took the lead in reconstruction after 1867. Radical Republicans felt the war had been fought for equal rights and wanted to see the powers of the national government expanded. Few were as radical as Thaddeus “Tommy Lee Jones” Stephens who wanted to take away land from the Southern planters and give it to the former slaves, but rank-and-file Republicans were radical enough to pass the Civil Rights Bill, which defined persons born in the United States as citizens and established nationwide equality before the law regardless of race. Andrew Johnson immediately vetoed the law, claiming that trying to protect the rights of African Americans amounted to discrimination against white people, which so infuriated Republicans that Congress did something it had never done before in all of American history. They overrode the Presidential veto with a 2/3rds majority and the Civil Rights Act became law. So then Congress really had its dander up and decided to amend the Constitution with the 14th amendment, which defines citizenship, guarantees equal protection, and extends the rights in the Bill of Rights to all the states (sort of). The amendment had almost no Democratic support, but it also didn’t need any, because there were almost no Democrats in Congress on account of how Congress had refused to seat the representatives from the “new” all-white governments that Johnson supported. And that’s how we got the 14th amendment, arguably the most important in the whole Constitution. Thanks, Thought Bubble. Oh, straight to the mystery document today? Alright. The rules here are simple. I guess the author of the Mystery Document and try not to get shocked. Alright let’s see what we’ve got today. Sec. 1. Be it ordained by the police jury of the parish of St. Landry, That no negro shall be allowed to pass within the limits of said parish without special permit in writing from his employer. Sec. 4. . . . Every negro is required to be in the regular service of some white person, or former owner, who shall be held responsible for the conduct of said negro.. Sec. 6. . . . No negro shall be permitted to preach, exhort, or otherwise declaim to congregations of colored people, without a special permission in writing from the president of the police jury. . . . Gee, Stan, I wonder if the President of the Police Jury was white. I actually know this one. It is a Black Code, which was basically legal codes where they just replaced the word “slave” with the word “negro.” And this code shows just how unwilling white governments were to ensure the rights of new, free citizens. I would celebrate not getting shocked, but now I am depressed. So, okay, in 1867, again over Johnson’s veto, Congress passed the Reconstruction Act, which divided the south into 5 military districts and required each state to create a new government, one that included participation of black men. Those new governments had to ratify the 14th amendment if they wanted to get back into the union. Radical Reconstruction had begun. So, in 1868, Andrew Johnson was about as electable in the U.S. as Jefferson Davis, and sure enough he didn’t win. Instead, the 1868 election was won by Republican and former Union general Ulysses S. Grant. But Grant’s margin of victory was small enough that Republicans were like, “Man, we would sure win more elections if black people could vote.” Which is something you hear Republicans say all the time these days. So Congressional Republicans pushed the 15th Amendment, which prohibited states from denying men the right to vote based on race, but not based on gender or literacy or whether your grandfather could vote. So states ended up with a lot of leeway when it came to denying the franchise to African Americans, which of course they did. So here we have the federal government dictating who can vote, and who is and isn’t a citizen of a state, and establishing equality under the law--even local laws. And this is a really big deal in American history, because the national government became, rather than a threat to individual liberty, “the custodian of freedom,” as Radical Republican Charles Sumner put it. So but with this legal protection, former slaves began to exercise their rights. They participated in the political process by direct action, such as staging sit-ins to integrate street-cars, by voting in elections, and by holding office. Most African Americans were Republicans at the time, and because they could vote and were a large part of the population, the Republican party came to dominate politics in the South, just like today, except totally different. Now, Southern mythology about the age of radical Reconstruction is exemplified by Gone with the Wind, which of course tells the story of northern Republican dominance and corruption by southern Republicans. Fortune seeking northern carpetbaggers, seen here, as well as southern turncoat scalawags dominated politics and all of the African American elected leaders were either corrupt or puppets or both. Yeah, well, like the rest of Gone with the Wind, that’s a bit of an oversimplification. There were about 2,000 African Americans who held office during Reconstruction, and the vast majority of them were not corrupt. Consider for example the not-corrupt and amazingly-named Pinckney B.S. Pinchback, who from 1872 to 1873 served very briefly in Louisiana as America’s first black governor. And went on to be a senator and a member of the House of Representatives. By the way, America’s second African American governor, Douglas Wilder of Virginia was elected in 1989. Having African American officeholders was a huge step forward in term of ensuring the rights of African Americans because it meant that there would be black juries and less discrimination in state and local governments when it came to providing basic services. But in the end, Republican governments failed in the South. There were important achievements, especially a school system that, while segregated, did attempt to educate both black and white children. And even more importantly, they created a functioning government where both white and African American citizens could participate. According to one white South Carolina lawyer, “We have gone through one of the most remarkable changes in our relations to each other that has been known, perhaps, in the history of the world.” That’s a little hyperbolic, but we are America after all. (libertage) It’s true that corruption was widespread, but it was in the North, too. I mean, we’re talking about governments. And that’s not why Reconstruction really ended: It ended because 1. things like schools and road repair cost money, which meant taxes, which made Republican governments very unpopular because Americans hate taxes, and 2. White southerners could not accept African Americans exercising basic civil rights, holding office or voting. And for many, the best way to return things to the way they were before reconstruction was through violence. Especially after 1867, much of the violence directed toward African Americans in the South was politically motivated. The Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1866 and it quickly became a terrorist organization, targeting Republicans, both black and white, beating and murdering men and women in order to intimidate them and keep them from voting. The worst act of violence was probably the massacre at Colfax, Louisiana where hundreds of former slaves were murdered. And between intimidation and emerging discriminatory voting laws, fewer black men voted, which allowed white Democrats to take control of state governments in the south, and returned white Democratic congressional delegations to Washington. These white southern politicians called themselves “Redeemers” because they claimed to have redeemed the south from northern republican corruption and black rule. Now, it’s likely that the South would have fallen back into Democratic hands eventually, but the process was aided by Northern Republicans losing interest in Reconstruction. In 1873, the U.S. fell into yet another not-quite-Great economic depression and northerners lost the stomach to fight for the rights of black people in the south, which in addition to being hard was expensive. So by 1876 the supporters of reconstruction were in full retreat and the Democrats were resurgent, especially in the south. And this set up one of the most contentious elections in American history. The Democrats nominated New York Governor (and NYU Law School graduate) Samuel Tilden. The Republicans chose Ohio governor (and Kenyon College alumnus) Rutherford B. Hayes. One man who’d gone to Crash Course writer Raoul Meyer’s law school. And another who’d gone to my college, Kenyon. Now, if the election had been based on facial hair, as elections should be, there would’ve been no controversy, but sadly we have an electoral college here in the United States, and in 1876 there were disputed electoral votes in South Carolina, Louisiana, and, of course, Florida. Now you might remember that in these situations, there is a constitutional provision that says Congress should decide the winner, but Congress, shockingly, proved unable to accomplish something. So they appointed a 15 man Electoral Commission--a Super-Committee, if you will. And there were 8 Republicans on that committee and 7 Democrats, so you will never guess who won. Kenyon College’s own Rutherford B. Hayes. Go Lords and Ladies! And yes, that is our mascot. Shut up. Anyway in order to get the Presidency and win the support of the supercommittee, Hayes’ people agreed to cede control of the South to the Democrats and to stop meddling in Southern affairs and also to build a transcontinental railroad through Texas. This is called the Bargain of 1877 because historians are so good at naming things and it basically killed Reconstruction. Without any more federal troops in Southern states and with control of Southern legislatures firmly in the hands of white democrats the states were free to go back to restricting the freedom of black people, which they did. Legislatures passed Jim Crow laws that limited African American’s access to public accommodations and legal protections. States passed laws that took away black people’s right to vote and social and economic mobility among African Americans in the south declined precipitously. However, for a brief moment, the United States was more democratic than it had ever been before. And an entire segment of the population that had no impact on politics before was now allowed to participate. And for the freedmen who lived through it, that was a monumental change, and it would echo down to the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, sometimes called the second reconstruction. But we’re gonna end this episode on a downer, as we are wont to do here at Crash Course US History because I want to point out a lesser-known legacy of Reconstruction. The Reconstruction amendments and laws that were passed granted former slaves political freedom and rights, especially the vote, and that was critical. But to give them what they really wanted and needed, plots of land that would make them economically independent, would have required confiscation, and that violation of property rights was too much for all but the most radical Republicans. And that question of what it really means to be “free” in a system of free market capitalism has proven very complicated indeed. I’ll see you next week. Crash Course is produced and directed by Stan Muller. Our script supervisor is Meredith Danko. The associate producer is Danica Johnson. The show is written by my high school history teacher, Raoul Meyer, and myself. And our graphics team is Thought Café. Every week there’s a new caption for the libertage. You can suggest those in comments where you can also ask questions about today’s video that will be answered by our team of historians. Thank you for watching Crash Course. Don’t forget to subscribe. And as we say in my hometown, don’t forget to be awesome. reconstruction -


Democratic primary

Ever since the passage of the Voting Rights Act and other civil rights legislation in the 1960s, black participation in the Democratic Party grew while the role of the whites diminished. This became evident in the 1988 U.S. Presidential election when Jesse Jackson, a black civil rights activist from Greenville, was chosen by South Carolina Democrats as their nominee for president. His nomination hastened the exodus of whites from the Democratic Party,[1] but it also gave hope to blacks across the state that they could win a statewide office. Theo Mitchell, a black state senator from Greenville, sought to capitalize on the changing demographics of the state Democratic primary by indicating his intentions of seeking the governorship in April 1989.

In January 1990, Mitchell formally announced his candidacy for governor at a bus station named for him in Greenville. State Senator Ernie Passailaigue of Charleston entered the lackluster race in March 1990, but was widely unknown outside of Charleston and he failed to generate any excitement from the voters or the media. Other prominent state Democrats saw the race as unwinnable because of Governor Campbell's popularity and chose not to run for governor.[2]

As a result of the apathy of the voters and the declining participation of whites, turnout was light for the state Democratic primary on June 12. Mitchell easily defeated Passailaigue because black voters dominated the primary and they overwhelmingly cast their vote for Mitchell. He made political history by becoming the first black in South Carolina to be nominated by a major political party for the office of governor.[3]

Democratic Primary
Candidate Votes %
Theo Mitchell 116,471 57.2
Ernie Passailaigue 87,639 42.8

Republican primary

Governor Carroll A. Campbell, Jr. faced no opposition from South Carolina Republicans and avoided a primary election.


After his win in the Democratic primary, Theo Mitchell came out swinging against Governor Campbell. He accused Campbell of lying to him in 1988 because he said that Campbell had told him that he would first appoint a black to the State Board of Corrections. Campbell replied that it was a mix-up and instead named a white to the board, although he did later appoint a black to the board. Mitchell also accused Campbell of taking on a "dictatorial role" as governor because of his inaccessibility and said that Campbell was vulnerable on the issues of hazardous waste, auto insurance, and education.[2] The proposals made by Mitchell for the election were:

  • Eliminate the sales tax on groceries and over-the-counter medicine.
  • Raise the automobile sales tax and restructure income tax brackets.
  • Create a state lottery for education.

Governor Campbell stressed throughout the campaign his achievements in office, such as his leadership during Hurricane Hugo and his role in luring BMW to build a manufacturing plant in Greer. The one issue that he hoped to accomplish in a second term was the restructuring of state government for the first time since 1895. He had stated that there were four branches of government in South Carolina: the executive, legislative, judicial and bureaucracy. Campbell desired to reform state government so that it would operate for the people and not the special interests.

Mitchell committed a grave gaffe in September when he referred to Campbell's black supporters as "house niggers" and "black prostitutes who have sold out their race, their dignity, their honor and their integrity."[4] He refused to apologize for the remarks and Campbell cancelled a planned televised debate with Mitchell. The quote and the loss of exposure from a televised debate ultimately doomed Mitchell's quixotic candidacy for governor.

Election results

The general election was held on November 6, 1990, and Carroll A. Campbell, Jr. was reelected overwhelmingly as governor of South Carolina. The defeat marked the second largest loss by a Democratic nominee for governor in the state of South Carolina and the largest loss since Reconstruction. Turnout was less than the previous gubernatorial election because of the uncompetitive nature of the race.

Political commentators said that the huge loss was a result of Mitchell's combative style and his inability to curry support from the white power brokers of the Democratic Party. Consequently, Mitchell lacked the funding to mount an effective campaign against Governor Campbell. Mitchell had to travel by van for long hours to campaign functions and carry his own lectern whereas Campbell and his entourage traversed the state in two planes.[4]

South Carolina Gubernatorial Election, 1990
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Carroll A. Campbell, Jr. 528,831 69.5 +18.5
Democratic Theo Mitchell 212,048 27.8 -20.1
American John R. Peeples, Jr. 17,263 2.3 +1.9
No party Write-Ins 2,877 0.4 +0.3
Majority 316,783 41.7 +38.6
Turnout 761,019 56.0 -1.8
Republican hold
1990 South Carolina gubernatorial election map, by percentile by county.   65+% won by Campbell   60%-64% won by Campbell   55%-59% won by Campbell   50%-54% won by Campbell   <50% won by Campbell   50%-54% won by Mitchell   55%-59% won by Mitchell
1990 South Carolina gubernatorial election map, by percentile by county.
  65+% won by Campbell
  60%-64% won by Campbell
  55%-59% won by Campbell
  50%-54% won by Campbell
  <50% won by Campbell
  50%-54% won by Mitchell
  55%-59% won by Mitchell

See also


  1. ^ Edgar, p560
  2. ^ a b Mitchell makes history with win, p8A
  3. ^ Mitchell makes history with win, p1A
  4. ^ a b Mitchell loss not a surprise, p4A


  • Edgar, Walter (1998). South Carolina A History. University of South Carolina Press. p. 560. ISBN 1-57003-255-6. 
  • "Mitchell makes history with win: Greenville Democrat to take on Campbell". The State. 13 June 1990. p. 1A, 8A. 
  • "Mitchell loss not a surprise: Popular incumbent never looked back". The State. 7 November 1990. p. 4A. 
  • "Governor County Election Results". The State. 8 November 1990. p. 17A. 

External links

Preceded by
South Carolina gubernatorial elections Succeeded by
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