Carroll Campbell Jr (1940-2005) was South Carolina’s 112th Governor. He also was instrumental in the Republican Party’s rise in the Palmetto State.
Campbell was born in Greenville, dropping out of high school, Campbell graduated from the McCallie School in Chattanooga, TN. After dropping out of the University of South Carolina due to financial concerns, Campbell obtained a Masters degree from American University in Washington, DC.
Campbell served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1970-74. In 1974 he made an unsuccessful bid for SC Lieutenant Governor. It was this race where Campbell met and retained Lee Atwater, who later was chairman of the Republican National Committee under George HW Bush.
After serving one term in the SC State Senate (1976-78), Campbell was elected to Congress from the 4th Congressional District and was the first Republican to win that seat since Reconstruction. In 1980 and 84, he was Ronald Reagan’s campaign chairman in South Carolina and was southern regional chairman for George HW Bush in 1988.
Campbell was elected Governor of South Carolina in 1986 and was responsible for luring BMW to build its first US manufacturing plant in Greer. In recognition of his role, BMW donated $10 million to Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research. The result was the Carroll A. Campbell Jr. Graduate Engineering Center. Campbell was governor when Hurricane Hugo hit and he coordinated the state’s response. Campbell left office in 1994 due to term limits with a job approval rating of 72%.
After leaving office, Campbell was the CEO and chief lobbyist in Washington for the American Council of Life Insurers. In 2001, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and left public life. Campbell spent the last months of his life in 2005 at Carroll Campbell Place, an Alzheimer’s Care Center affiliated with Lexington Medical Center named in his honor in Lexington, SC. Campbell died of a heart attack on December 7th, 2005. He is buried at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pawleys Island, SC.
On his death, Campbell was called the “master architect” of the South Carolina Republican Party’s rise to dominance by David Wilkins, the former US Ambassador to Canada and Speaker of the SC House of Representatives.
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