About Carroll A. Campbell, Jr., Governor
Carroll Ashmore Campbell, Jr. (July 24, 1940 – December 7, 2005) was a U.S. Republican Party politician who served as 112th Governor of South Carolina from 1987 to 1995.
He was born in Greenville, South Carolina, the oldest of six children. His father, Carroll Campbell, Sr., worked in the textile mills and the furniture business, and later owned a motel in Garden City, South Carolina.
Campbell grew up in Greenville and the nearby small towns of Liberty and Simpsonville. He attended Greenville Senior High School, dropping out during a period that The Greenville News characterized as an "unsettled adolescence amid a disintegrating family"; his uncle then enrolled him at McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He attended the University of South Carolina but withdrew due to financial concerns and later graduated with a masters of arts degree from American University. While at college, he joined Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.
Early political career
Campbell served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1970 to 1974. With Lee Atwater as a key political strategist, he made an unsuccessful bid for Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina in 1974, losing to Democrat Brantley Harvey; despite the loss Campbell would continue to seek Atwater's counsel throughout his career.
From 1976 to 1978, he served in the South Carolina Senate. In between his two stints in the General Assembly, he served as Executive Assistant to Governor James B. Edwards. In 1978, Campbell won election to the United States House of Representatives from South Carolina's 4th congressional district and became the first Republican to hold the seat since Reconstruction.
Campbell served as state campaign chairman for Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign in 1980 and 1984, and as southern regional chairman for George H. W. Bush's presidential campaign in 1988.
As Governor, he coordinated the state's response to Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Campbell was also known for his role in luring BMW to build its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Greer, South Carolina. In recognition of his role, in 2002 it was announced that BMW had donated $10 million for a facility at the site of Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research. Like nearly all such large donations, it came with naming rights: the company chose to call the new facility the Carroll A. Campbell Jr. Graduate Engineering Center.
When Campbell was governor, the state was confronted with two major controversies shaking taxpayers' confidence in the trustworthiness of public officials. Allegations of financial mismanagement at the University of South Carolina led to university president James B. Holderman's resignation. Operation Lost Trust, a federal investigation of bribery and drug use allegations against members of the South Carolina legislature, led to convictions of 27 legislators, lobbyists and others in a vote-buying scandal.
During 1993–1994, he served as Chairman of the National Governors Association.
Term limits prevented him from seeking a third term in 1994. He left office with an unprecedented job approval rating of 72%.
From 1995 to 2001, Campbell was a Washington, D.C. lobbyist, serving as President and CEO of the American Council of Life Insurers. In 1996, Campbell briefly considered running for President of the United States, but concluded that the fundraising hurdles were too high. Following his decision not to run for President that year, he was later mentioned as a possible vice presidential running mate for Bob Dole, but was ultimately passed over in favor of Jack Kemp.
Campbell eloped with Iris Faye Rhodes in 1959. They had two sons, Carroll Campbell III and Mike Campbell, the former of whom unsuccessfully sought the 2010 Republican nomination for SC's 1st congressional district (map) to succeed Representative Henry Brown; and the latter of whom was an unsuccessful candidate for South Carolina Lieutenant Governor in 2006. The family owns franchises for Wendy's restaurants in South Carolina.
In October 2001, Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at the age of 61. As a result of his diagnosis, he was forced to abandon plans to run for Governor again in 2002. He was admitted to a long-term residential treatment facility for Alzheimer's patients in August 2005. He died of a heart attack on December 7, 2005, at Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia, South Carolina. After lying in state at the State House, he was eulogized at memorial services at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia and at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pawleys Island. He was buried in the church cemetery of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pawleys Island, South Carolina.
Upon Campbell's death, David Wilkins, U.S. Ambassador to Canada and former Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives, described him as "the master architect" of the South Carolina Republican Party's speedy rise to dominance.