David Beasley

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David Beasley
Executive Director of the World Food Programme
Assumed office
April 4, 2017
Secretary General António Guterres
Preceded by Ertharin Cousin
113th Governor of South Carolina
In office
January 11, 1995 – January 13, 1999
Lieutenant Bob Peeler
Preceded by Carroll Campbell
Succeeded by Jim Hodges
Member of the South Carolina House of Representatives
from the 56th district
In office
January 9, 1979 – January 10, 1995
Preceded by Gary Byrd
Succeeded by Denny Neilson
Personal details
Born David Muldrow Beasley
(1957-02-26) February 26, 1957 (age 60)
Darlington, South Carolina, U.S.
Political party Democratic (Before 1991)
Republican (1991–present)
Spouse(s) Mary Wood Payne
Children 4
Education Clemson University
University of South Carolina, Columbia (BA, JD)

David Muldrow Beasley (born February 26, 1957) is an American politician who is the Executive Director of the U.N. World Food Programme.[1] Beasley served one term as the 113th Governor of South Carolina from 1995 until 1999, as a member of the Republican Party.

Beasley, a native of Lamar, South Carolina, began his political career as a member of the Democratic Party, but switched to the Republican Party in September 1991, three years before his election as governor. His first run for public office came in 1978, when, as a 21-year-old junior attending Clemson University, he unexpectedly won a seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives. He later graduated from the University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina School of Law.

Early political career[edit]

Beasley served as a member of the House from 1979 until 1995, rising through the party ranks to become Majority Whip. He served as the youngest Speaker pro tempore and Majority Leader in the nation, being elected to the position from 1987–1989.[2] It was during the 1991–92 legislative session that Beasley switched to the Republican Party. During the 1994 election for governor, both Beasley and his Democratic opponent Lieutenant Governor Nick Theodore had tough primary fights within their own respective parties. Beasley, however, beat his toughest competitor, former Congressman and State Senator Arthur Ravenel, Jr., in both the primary and run-off, and went on to win the general election by a narrow margin of 50%–48%.


During his term as governor, Beasley was known for injecting his Christian faith into the public discourse[citation needed].

In 1998, Beasley was defeated in his bid for re-election by Democrat Jim Hodges, 53-45 percent. There are several reasons for Beasley's surprising loss in a state that has since become heavily Republican.

First, owners of video poker machines, which were legal in South Carolina at the time, poured millions of dollars into advertisements attacking Beasley for trying to ban video poker. Second, Beasley changed his position on keeping the Confederate flag on top of the Capitol. He ordered it moved to a place nearby on the capitol grounds. Many descendents of those who fought in the Confederate Army remembered this supposed "flip-flop" on Election Day, and simply stayed home. Third, Beasley opposed a proposal for the state to support all-day kindergarten, a decision which cost him Democratic votes[citation needed]

Post Governor[edit]

Following his term as governor, Beasley was invited as a fellow at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 2003, Beasley was awarded the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award by U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) for his controversial request to the South Carolina legislature to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state house dome.[3]

In 2004, the former governor unsuccessfully ran for the United States Senate. Beasley lost the Republican nomination to Congressman Jim DeMint of Greenville, South Carolina.[4]

In April 2005, Governor Beasley, along with his administration's former Chief Legal Counsel, Henry Deneen, incorporated the Center for Global Strategies, Ltd (CGS). CGS focuses on developmental initiatives in the non-integrated world. Governor Beasley serves as the Chairman of the Board.[5]

In 2007, Beasley endorsed Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas) in the 2008 Republican presidential primaries.[6]

In 2010, Beasley endorsed Henry McMaster in the South Carolina Republican gubernatorial primaries[citation needed].

In 2011, Beasley became a member of the board of the Peace Research Endowment.

In February 2017, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley nominated Beasley to be the next Executive Director of the World Food Programme.[7] United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization José Graziano da Silva appointed Beasley to the post in March 2017, saying the former governor brought "extensive experience with key governmental and business leaders and stakeholders around the world, with very strong resource mobilisation skills."[8]

Personal life[edit]

Beasley is married to the former Mary Wood Payne and is the father of four children. Beasley currently resides in Society Hill, South Carolina, located in Darlington County.


External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Carroll Campbell
Republican nominee for Governor of South Carolina
1994, 1998
Succeeded by
Mark Sanford
Preceded by
Terry Branstad
Chair of the Republican Governors Association
Succeeded by
Frank Keating
Political offices
Preceded by
Carroll Campbell
Governor of South Carolina
Succeeded by
Jim Hodges