- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 9, 2004


Former South Carolina Gov. David Beasley and Rep. Jim DeMint advanced to a runoff yesterday in the Republican primary for the Senate seat left open by the retirement of Democratic Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Beasley had 37 percent, or 106,965 votes, to Mr. DeMint’s 76,949 or 26 percent. Millionaire real estate developer Thomas Ravenel ran a close third, with 72,274 votes, or 25 percent, but just missed out on making the June 22 runoff.

The race — for one of five Democrat-held Senate seats in the South to come open this year — will be among the most closely watched in the fall, with the Republicans narrowly controlling the Senate 51-48, with one Democrat-leaning independent.

The Republican primary winner will face Democratic Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum.

Six other states held primaries yesterday — Iowa, Maine, New Jersey, North Dakota, Virginia and Montana, where the open governor’s seat brought a sharp philosophical fight to the state Republican Party.

Most saw noncompetitive primaries, with scant or no challenges for each parties’ candidates for Congress or governor, and the real contest waiting until the fall general election.

Not in South Carolina. When Mr. Hollings announced his retirement after nearly four decades, it set off a Republican scramble. Six candidates jumped for the chance in the state, which has grown increasingly more Republican.

Mr. Beasley quickly became the front-runner, but opponents who helped defeat him in 1998 after one term as governor dogged his latest campaign, criticizing his efforts to lower the Confederate flag and ban video poker when he was in office.

To avoid a runoff, the winning candidate needed to get more than 50 percent of the primary vote.

The state’s often-fractious Democrats united around Miss Tenenbaum, who portrayed herself as an independent-minded figure and emphasized votes she has gotten from both Republicans and Democrats.

In Montana, Secretary of State Bob Brown and political newcomer Pat Davison led the pack in the race for the Republican nomination for governor. Mr. Davison, a stockbroker, appealed to conservatives by pledging not to raise taxes and criticizing Mr. Brown for refusing to make the same promise.

Mr. Brown, with more than a quarter-century as a legislator, warned of budget shortfalls and said: “You shouldn’t make promises you can’t keep.”



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