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Campaign Files, 1986 (defeated Henry McMaster in the general election)


Description of Materials for 1986 Senatorial Campaign

The almost nine feet of 1986 campaign records consist of campaign organization files, correspondence, county files, Democratic Party information, financial records, persons files (including opposition research), publicity files, strategy files, topical files, and voter research activities (including polling).

The campaign organization records include a notebook on county coordinators, memos between the staff (which includes staff meeting minutes), and office policy/procedure. Of particular interest are meeting minutes from the Citizens Committee for Ernest Hollings.

The bulk of the 1986 files are county files. These files consist of information relating to people in the individual counties and background information on the county. This information may include polls taken in the county, information on news and events in the county, and correspondence from members of the community.

Financial records include campaign budget records and information on fundraising events held across the state. Of note are the records of 'Home Parties' held in several counties and town meeting information.

This campaign also saw an increase in files kept on opponents. Hollings has a significant amount of information on Henry McMaster and Henry Jordan, who lost to McMaster in the Republican Primary. Particularly of interest in the Jordan files is a list of deeds and mortgages held in his name. The files on McMaster include information on his ad campaigns as well as his finances and his time as U.S. Attorney.

In the years 1986 and his re-election in 1992, Hollings was involved in Democratic Party affairs and other candidates' election efforts. Files from 1987 and 1991 center on the Democratic Party. In 1988, the bulk of the material relates to the Democratic National Convention and the democratic presidential candidates. By 1991, files on finances and Tommy Hartnett begin to reflect the build-up to what would be an intense 1992 re-election campaign.


  • 1986 (defeated Henry McMaster in the general election)


From the Collection: 800 Linear Feet

Biographical Note

Campaign for U.S. Senate, 1986

In 1986, the national Republican Party targeted Hollings' seat as winnable. In the Republican primary, Henry D. McMaster, Columbia attorney and former U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina (1981 to 1985), defeated Anderson surgeon Henry Jordan by a slim margin. A poll publicized during the primary indicated 45% of South Carolinians wanted to see Hollings ousted from Washington. McMaster's campaign received very significant support from the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.

McMaster attacked Hollings' voting record while extolling his own accomplishments as District Attorney. In an ad that first ran on September 22, McMaster took advantage of the Senator's forced absences while campaigning for president and criticized Hollings for having missed 309 floor votes between 1981 and 1985. At the same time, McMaster lauded the successes of his Operation Jackpot, 'the most effective investigation and prosecution of drug smugglers in U.S. history.'

On the whole, the McMaster campaign was negative, going so far as to call the senator a 'liar' and 'political prostitute.' Two hand-delivered letters, dated October 16, contain a terse exchange between the outraged Hollings and McMaster, who was seeking the exposure a televised debate, would provide his sagging campaign. Hollings contended that McMaster's strategy was 'imported from Washington' and had been shipped along with a 'check for $211,000 from the National Republican Senatorial Committee to buy the South Carolina senate seat.' He castigated the challenger for his 'numerous distortions' and stated that he had 'no idea of appearing with [McMaster] anywhere.' McMaster apologized, but reminded Hollings that the Senator had also called him a 'charlatan' and 'rascal'. Both sides reached a debate agreement the following day.

Seeking to capitalize on the popularity of the state's senior senator, McMaster publicized the fact that Hollings and the Republican Strom Thurmond often cancelled out each other's senate vote. When the Hollings campaign countered with a television ad showing the two senators working together on a textile bill, McMaster complained the ad implied an endorsement of Hollings by Thurmond. McMaster may have been venting his frustration for although Thurmond had endorsed him, he refused to stump for McMaster in South Carolina. In the general election, Hollings captured nearly 65% of the vote. Many Republicans felt that a stronger candidate might have succeeded in winning the seat for the party and looked to 1992 for another chance to overthrow the Senate's most senior junior senator.


Repository Details

Part of the South Carolina Political Collections Repository

Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library
1322 Greene St.
University of South Carolina
Columbia SC 29208 USA