Rep. Bob Inglis (R)
South Carolina 4th District
A century ago, Northern investors seeking sites for textile mills looked at the Upstate of South Carolina and found what was described then as “mild climate, abundant water power, proximity to the cotton fields and plenty of native labor already accustomed to a low standard of living.” As mills fled New England, textile factories settled along the Southern Railway and Seaboard Coast Line tracks between Charlotte and Atlanta, especially in the Piedmont of South Carolina. The textile country might look bucolic, but Greenville, Spartanburg and the dozens of mill towns thick in the surrounding countryside became as industrial as Lancashire or the Ruhr, with mills rising up on what were once twisting woodland paths. In the days before child labor laws, factory work sometimes began at age 6, condemning workers to a life of illiteracy. Escapes to a brighter future, such as the brilliant but brief baseball career of West Greenville’s “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, were rare.
2008 Presidential Vote
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Today, this same stretch of land along Interstate 85, which parallels the Southern Railway, remains one of the largest textile-producing areas in the United States, even though most mills have shut down and the others are not likely to survive. The state had 35,000 textile and apparel workers in 2008, but has lost more than 30,000 textile jobs since 2000, with closings accelerated by the end of the Multifiber Agreement in 2005. But there is much more to the local economy than textiles. Many former textile workers have taken jobs with the new companies that have moved to the area. So many other jobs have been created that the South Carolina Textile Manufacturers Alliance dropped “Textiles” from its name. Financial sweeteners, tax incentives, the absence of unions and solid infrastructure—airports, interstate highways and the busy port of Charleston—attracted an enormous BMW plant, although it laid off 700 workers in 2008 during the recession and worldwide auto slowdown. The region has the American headquarters of Michelin and a big Fuji Photo factory, among others. Greenville’s revitalized downtown now boasts fancy hotels and restaurants, including Korean, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine—each catering to the new corporate manager class.
The 4th Congressional District of South Carolina includes all of Greenville and Spartanburg counties, plus much smaller Union County and a sliver of Laurens County. Greenville is the largest county in the state, and has grown 15% since 2000. Culturally, the 4th ranges from conservative to very conservative, with strong influence from Greenville’s many evangelical and fundamentalist churches. Bob Jones University is here as well; it has dropped its longtime ban on interracial dating but students are still prohibited from smoking, drinking, dancing and wearing jeans or shorts to class. Here, the real political divide is between religious and economic conservatives. But large new subdivisions have sprouted between Greenville and Spartanburg, and newcomers have brought religious diversity. Greenville has growing populations not only of Catholics and Jews, but also Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’is, and the only gay-oriented church within 60 miles. When President George W. Bush in 2008 gave the commencement address at Furman University in Greenville, several dozen people protested and more than 30 professors got permission not to attend because they objected to his policies. Still, this is a heavily Republican district, with the smallest African-American percentage in the state. In 2008, GOP presidential candidate John McCain won 60% of the vote in the district.
Rep. Bob Inglis (R)
Elected: 2004, 6th term.
Born: Oct. 11, 1959, Bluffton .
Home: Travelers Rest.
Education: Duke U., B.A. 1981, U. of VA Law Schl., J.D. 1984.
Family: Married (Mary Anne); 5 children.
Elected office: U.S. House of Reps., 1992-98.
Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1984–92.
The congressman from the 4th District once again is Bob Inglis, who was elected in 2004 after having served from 1993 to 1999. He grew up in the Lowcountry, excelled at Duke University and the University of Virginia law school and moved to Greenville to practice commercial law. He ran for the U.S. House against a Democratic incumbent in 1992 and pledged to serve only three terms, to take no money from political action committees and to oppose pork barrel projects. He won 50%-48%. Inglis kept his promises.When Republicans won the House in 1994, he supported reforms, including one to apply all U.S. laws to Congress, which had exempted itself from many laws and regulations, and a ban on gifts and other perks to members. Inglis resisted joining the Washington culture and slept in his office on an air mattress. In 1998, he ran against Democratic Sen. Ernest Hollings and lost 53%-46%. He returned to Greenville to practice law, specializing in commercial real estate and corporations.
|Bob Inglis (R)||184,440||(60%)||($495,289)|
|Paul Corden (D)||113,291||(37%)||($75,167)|
|C. Faye Walters (Green)||7,332||(2%)|
|Bob Inglis (R)||37,571||(67%)|
|Charles Jeter (R)||18,545||(33%)|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (64%), 2004 (70%), 1996 (71%), 1994 (73%), 1992 (50%)
In 2004, Inglis traded places with Rep. Jim DeMint, his House successor, who honored his own term-limits pledge and was elected to the Senate as Hollings retired. Inglis again ran as a citizen-politician, saying he was “reinvigorated” by his time in private life. But this time, he refused to make another term limits pledge, which he likened to “unilateral disarmament.” He suggested that the Capitol Hill culture had changed, so that the same strategies that made sense after Republicans captured the House majority, no longer were required. Ever the budget hawk, Inglis enlisted his wife as his top campaign aide, eschewed political consultants, ran his race out of his home and refused political action committee contributions. By getting an early start and raising large amounts of money, he scared off serious competition. He won 84% of the vote in the Republican primary and easily won the general election 70%-29% over funeral home executive Brandon Brown.
His voting record moved toward the center from the more conservative stances that he took in his first stint in the House. He opposed oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and renewal of rules for warrantless electronic surveillance. He joined a congressional delegation to Antarctica, where scientific research convinced him of the risk of global warming. He is the ranking Republican on the Energy and Environment Subcommittee on the Science and Technology Committee, and has been outspoken about the need to reduce carbon emissions that cause global warming. He worked on legislation to promote alternative fuels, including the enactment in December 2007 of annual cash prices for hydrogen-based inventions. During his initial tenure, he told The Greenville News, “I just sort of reeked of sanctimony.” No more, he pledged.
Inglis had an easy re-election in 2006. But his February 2007 support of the Democratic resolution opposing the military surge in Iraq, which he called “a vote of conscience,” caused anger among many Republicans at home, including the chairman of the state party and a few county party leaders. When they encouraged potential primary challengers, Inglis responded by proposing “benchmarks” for success in Iraq. Charles Jeter, an Environmental Protection Agency regional official in the Reagan Administration, challenged Inglis and said that his environmental views made him the “Al Gore of the Republican Party.” But Inglis won the primary over Jeter 67%-33%, and went on to win the general election 60%-37%. He faces another likely primary challenge in 2010.