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Campaign Files, 1998 (defeated Bob Inglis in the general election)

Description of Materials for 1998 Senatorial Campaign

The eight feet of 1998 campaign records consist of campaign organization files, correspondence, Democratic Party information, financial records, persons files (including opposition research), publicity files, strategy files, topical files, and voter research activities (including polling).

Campaign organization records take up less of the 1998 campaign records than in other election years. However, information on staff and volunteers as well as memos and county information are present. Correspondence records consist mainly of congratulatory mail which includes letters from supporters across the United States, both civilians and colleagues and government officials.

Financial records make up a significant amount of the 1998 campaign records. In this case, the lists of contributors have been broken down into categories based on the person's residence (county) and in some cases by career (SC Lawyers). The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also provided the Senator with a list of their contributors in the form of a notebook.

As with the 1992 campaign, the campaign records here include significant opposition research. A 164-page report, Campaign Research Report on Robert Durden Inglis, dated Spring, 1992, lays out Inglis' life and stands on various issues. It notes, 'the extreme conservatism that has guided him through six years in Washington remains both his greatest asset and his most damning liabililty...Extreme he is, but Inglis is also - by all appearances - principled, consistent and sincerely dedicated to these beliefs...Inglis has proven himself so ideologically rigid, so uncompromisingly conservative, that his election to the U.S. Senate would be a catastrophe for South Carolina's working families, seniors and children.'

Publicity and strategy records consist of records related to the campaign's advertisements and tactics used in the campaign. Of particular interest in publicity are scripts for ads including 'Cookie Jar' and 'Gonzales Gardens.' Also in publicity are speeches made by the Senator and information related to his website. Strategy includes not only strategy for just the Hollings campaign, but also for the 'coordinated campaign' of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

One foot of voter research files includes surveys of voter attitudes in South Carolina from June, 1996, through September, 1998, and extensive tracking polling from October, 1998. Voting record documents Hollings' record in the Senate and his accomplishments as well as a comparison of Hollings' and Thurmond's votes to show that their votes did not necessarily cancel each other out.

Though Hollings did not seek reelection in 2004, files were maintained to tie loose ends of his campaign. Hollings also continued to keep files on other campaigns as well. In 2000, for example, Hollings had a file relating to the Democratic National Convention and in 2001 he has a file on the Presidential Inauguration. In 2003 he began files on those who would be running in state campaigns in 2004, including Jim DeMint the Republican who succeeded Hollings in the Senate. He also maintained files on John Kerry and John Edwards who ran for president and vice president, respectively, in 2004.


  • 1998 (defeated Bob Inglis in the general election)


From the Collection: 800 Linear Feet

Biographical / Historical

Biographical Note Campaign for U.S. Senate, 1998 (go to Box list for 1998)

In 1998, Hollings overcame a challenge by Congressman Robert D. 'Bob' Inglis. In 1992, Inglis shocked incumbent 4th District Congresswomen Liz Patterson by wrestling the seat from her with a last minute campaign blitz and the support of the Christian right. A term limits proponent, Inglis honored his commitment not to seek a fourth term in the House, and instead sought to unseat Hollings. After a tough 1998 Republican Primary against Stephen Brown, the chairman of the Greenville County GOP, Inglis became Hollings' opponent for the General Election.

As in the 1992 election, Hollings faced an increasingly Republican and conservative electorate whose main focus was on ideological issues. Realizing the potential difficulties in this type of political atmosphere, the Hollings campaign went into action fast and strong. According to the Hollings for Senate Campaign Plan: March 1998, the Hollings campaign had two main strategies: 'one, 'localize' the race (which candidate is best for South Carolina) and two, blur the ideological differences between Senator Hollings and Representative Inglis.' These strategies were implemented in Hollings' vast media campaign which began before the primary election determined his Republican challenger. Hollings' TV ads focused on what Hollings had done for South Carolina during his tenure as Senator. In an attempt to gain more support among the more conservative populace, these ads portrayed Hollings as a fiscal conservative who had done great things for the state of South Carolina and its citizens. The campaign also produced ads contrasting Hollings and Inglis, such as one comparing Hollings' and Inglis' records on veterans' benefits and pensions.

Finances and term limits were two of the main issues in the 1998 Senate race. Bob Inglis ran on the promise of never taking PAC money. In an article by Dan Hoover in the Greenville News (12/24/97), Inglis stated that his reasoning for his call for the elimination of PACs was because 'PACs can focus significant money on a narrow cause and advance that cause disproportionate to their support level within the general population.' Inglis also pushed for the addition of term limits to both houses of Congress. Hollings fired back with accusations that Inglis' acceptance of money from the Republican Party (which receives its money from PACs) was the equivalent of receiving PAC money and that Inglis' running for the Senate breaks his own promise about keeping to only three terms in Congress.

Finances were also a logistical issue in the 1998 Senate race. Bolstered by funds from in-state and out-of-state supporters, the Democratic Party, and PACs, Hollings' campaign budget was approximately $5.3 million. Inglis, on the other hand, raised much less due to his refusal to accept PAC money. The Hollings campaign exploited this difference in funding by producing large amounts of different TV ads in varying markets, thereby forcing Inglis to spend his money in responses to these ads. In fact, almost 80% of the budget for the Hollings campaign was set aside for paid media.

Even with all of the media advertisements, however, Hollings was still in a very tight race with Inglis. In the July 14, 1998 edition of the National Journal's CongressDaily/A.M., Charlie Cook wrote: '[P]olls show the race is very close. Hollings went on the air in May, but was unable to put any distance between himself and Inglis. Despite Inglis' early missteps, the strong Republican and conservative trend in the state has kept the 38-year-old challenger within striking distance.'

Both candidates spent their campaigns traveling to every corner of the state. The Hollings' campaign's 'localization' strategy was very effective on this level. Unlike the 1992 campaign, the field level operation was organized, efficient, and coordinated with the rest of the campaign. Reporter Lee Bandy from The State noted that 'the Hollings Team compiled a list of the work that the Senator had done on behalf of every county and made sure residents were reminded of this information before they cast their votes' (11/4/98). Meanwhile, Inglis traveled with his family in a large red RV named the 'Spirit of South Carolina' that doubled as a moving billboard for his campaign.

In late June, Inglis made public his Contract for a Courteous Campaign. Based on similar Republican proposals from around the country, the Contract required the candidate to be the main speaker in TV ads, to keep the opposing candidate informed about press conferences and press releases, and to 'reaffirm the pledge of no race baiting.' The Hollings' campaign refused to sign the contract stating that Inglis' conduct was not in keeping with the Contract. In a letter from campaign manager John Tecklenberg to Inglis, he states, 'Frankly, this conduct is disappointing. I hope you are not using this important issue as an effort to gather media attention to your campaign rather than a genuine attempt for a meaningful dialogue.'

Until the day of the election, the race was very close. Polls as late as October 31 had Hollings' lead over Inglis within the margin of error. As such, the tension level was quite high on both sides. In October, Hollings let fly some of his more colorful remarks of the campaign, comparing Inglis to a skunk. The public's outcry over this remark lead to Hollings offering an apology, but not before political commentators predicted that it could lead to his downfall in November.

On Election Day, however, Hollings pulled out a win over Inglis with 51.1% of the vote. At right, Hollings greets campaign supporters. That night he stated, 'Tonight, we have won a great victory, and tomorrow, we will continue to make life better for working families in South Carolina.' The day after the election, reporter Lee Bandy of The State summarized how Hollings was able to be successful: 'he focused his campaign message and turned back the 'out of touch' charges by building a solid field organization and an aggressive paid media strategy that emphasized the work he has done in South Carolina and why Bob Inglis should not be elected.'


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