Former Gov. Carroll Campbell is one the most beloved figures in the South Carolina Republican Party. His leadership is often likened to that former President Ronald Reagan is credited with at the national level by the party faithful.
Campbell, a Greenville native, served two terms as governor from 1986-94. He is revered for recruiting major industry to the state at one of its most critical junctions in economic development, and for solidifying the GOP as the Palmetto State’s dominant political party.
Campbell, who believed the state must expand its economic base coming out of the textile era, oversaw a huge, $700 million expansion of the Union Camp paper mill in Eastover and a $200 million expansion of the Michelin tire plant in Lexington.
In spring 1992, Campbell used his personal diplomacy to intervene in a failing bid to lure BMW to the state, managing by summer to orchestrate a commitment from the German automaker to build its first North American production plant in South Carolina’s Upstate. Over two terms as governor, Campbell secured an estimated $22 billion in investments to the state.
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But critics accused Campbell of undermining public education reform, and of doing nothing to heal South Carolina’s long history of racial strife.
Campbell also was a four-term U.S. Congressman, and he helped turn the face of the S.C. General Assembly from Democrat to Republican. He is credited with helping both President George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush, win crucial state primaries enroute to successful White House bids.
Campbell became a Washington lobbyist for the insurance industry after leaving office as governor.
In 2001, Campbell announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He died in 2005 at the age of 65 years.
About this series: The inaugural edition of The State newspaper was published Feb. 18, 1891. In anticipation of the 125th anniversary, the Palmetto section and this section at thestate.com are recounting each day how The State covered newsmakers and events vital to South Carolina’s history.