By JENNIFER HOLLAND
Published on: 06/23/04
Three-term South Carolina Rep. Jim DeMint soundly defeated former Gov. David Beasley in a Republican runoff Tuesday to earn a spot on the November ballot for an important Senate seat that has been occupied by the same Democrat for almost 40 years.
With all precincts reporting, DeMint had 59 percent to Beasley’s 41 percent.
In Utah, billionaire businessman Jon Huntsman Jr., a Bush administration diplomat who also worked as a White House aide under Ronald Reagan, faced a lesser-known challenger in the Republican gubernatorial primary.
Utah is one of 11 states with governor’s races this year, and Huntsman was heavily favored to be the Republican nominee.
DeMint’s victory brings an end to a comeback attempt by Beasley, who was bounced from the governor’s office in 1998 after angering voters by calling for lowering the Confederate flag from atop the state Capitol.
DeMint will face Democratic state Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum this fall in a race that could help determine the balance of power in the Senate.
Despite South Carolina’s conservative leanings, Democrats believe they have a serious shot at maintaining the seat that retiring Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings has held since Lyndon Johnson was in the White House.
They are confident that President Bush’s vulnerability and Tenenbaum’s moderate message could spell trouble for the GOP nominee.
Republicans see the race as a chance to solidify their Senate majority.
The GOP nominee will have the advantage of a Republican president at the top of the ticket in a state that gave Bush 58 percent of its votes in 2000.
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