Jim Hodges

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Jim Hodges
Portrait of Jim Hodges.jpg
114th Governor of South Carolina
In office
January 13, 1999 – January 15, 2003
LieutenantBob Peeler
Preceded byDavid Beasley
Succeeded byMark Sanford
Member of the South Carolina House of Representatives
from the 45th district
In office
December 2, 1986 – December 5, 1997
Preceded byTom Gibson Mangum
Succeeded byEldridge Emory
Personal details
James Hovis Hodges

(1956-11-19) November 19, 1956 (age 66)
Lancaster, South Carolina
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseRachel Gardner
Alma materUniversity of South Carolina (BSBA, JD)

James Hovis Hodges (born November 19, 1956)[1] is an American businessman, attorney, and politician who served as the 114th governor of South Carolina from 1999 to 2003. Since his victory in 1998, Hodges has remained the only Democrat elected to the South Carolina Governor's office since the 1982 election.

Early life and career[edit]

James Hovis Hodges was born on November 19, 1956, to parents George N. and Betty H. Hodges.[1][citation needed] He grew up in Lancaster, South Carolina, near the North Carolina border. He attended Davidson College but later transferred to the University of South Carolina, where he completed a BSBA in 1979 and earned election to Phi Beta Kappa.[2] During his undergraduate studies, Hodges worked summers at a cotton mill to pay for his schooling.[3]

In 1982, Hodges received a J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law.[3] From 1983 to 1986, Hodges served as Lancaster County Attorney.[4]

South Carolina House of Representatives[edit]

At age 30, Hodges first won an election in a December 1986 special election for the 45th district seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives vacated by the late Tom Mangum.[5] While in the House, Hodges served as chair of the House Judiciary Committee from 1992 until 1994 and as House Democratic Leader from 1995 until 1997.[3]

The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce named Hodges "Legislator of the Year" in 1993, and the National Federation of Independent Business bestowed Hodges with its "Guardian of Small Business" award.[6]

While serving in the state legislature, Hodges also worked as general counsel for The Springs Company.[6]

Governor of South Carolina[edit]

Gubernatorial election, 1998[edit]

Hodges entered the 1998 gubernatorial election in South Carolina an underdog but took advantage of controversy and missteps by incumbent Republican governor David Beasley, namely Beasley's indecisiveness on allowing a Confederate flag to fly at the state capitol and call to eliminate video poker.[7] Donations from video gambling interests helped Hodges narrow a near million-dollar fundraising gap with Beasley.[8]

In what was reported as an upset victory,[9] Hodges won the gubernatorial race with a 53 to 45 percent margin and won 35 of 46 counties.[10] Hodges became the first challenger to defeat a sitting governor since the South Carolina constitution first allowed consecutive terms in 1980.[11][12]

Term as governor (1999–2003)[edit]

Acts as governor[edit]

As South Carolina's 114th governor, Hodges signed a law that made Martin Luther King, Jr. Day an official state holiday; South Carolina was the last state in the U.S. to do so. That law also added a Confederate Memorial Day, a move that drew opposition from the NAACP.[13] Several hours later, Hodges signed the South Carolina Heritage Act which the General Assembly had passed as a compromise so that the Confederate flag could be moved from the state capitol's dome to its grounds.[14]

Public education was a major focus in the Hodges administration, as Hodges oversaw the founding of the South Carolina Education Lottery and the First Steps preschool initiative. The governor also helped pass a $1.1 billion school construction initiative, and the lottery funded millions in college scholarships to South Carolina students.[10][12]

Hodges made efforts to reform land use policy in South Carolina. He signed several executive orders which created task forces and interagency councils. Besides the Historic Preservation Task Force created by Hodges, Governor Mark Sanford did not continue Hodges policies.[15] Hodges also instituted the construction of the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston, which is North America's longest cabled spanned bridge.[citation needed]


Hodges received criticism in his first year in office for his management of the Hurricane Floyd evacuation, particularly his decision not to make Interstate 26 one-way westbound.[16][17] Hodges also received blame for financial problems with the state Department of Commerce and long lines at Division of Motor Vehicles offices.[12]

In 2003, the University of South Carolina self-reported to the NCAA several secondary recruiting violations on Hodges' part. Hodges had met with recruits, something he was prohibited from doing as an ex-oficio trustee of the university.[18]

Gubernatorial election, 2002[edit]

Like Hodges' 1998 bid, the race concentrated on issues such as education and the state budget. On November 5, 2002, former U.S. Representative Mark Sanford defeated Hodges in the general election for governor, 53 to 47 percent.[19]

During the campaign, Sanford "likened Hodges to a weasel and to former President Bill Clinton and Al Gore," reported The State in October 2002.[20] To date, Hodges remains the last Democrat to have served as governor of South Carolina.

Post-political career[edit]

Hodges in 2008

Since leaving office as governor, Hodges has served as a senior advisor at McGuire Woods Consulting, LLC, and as partner in the affiliated law firm of McGuireWoods, LLP, and is based in Columbia, South Carolina.

He endorsed General Wesley Clark (D-Arkansas) in the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries.

In 2007, Hodges publicly supported Stephen Colbert's attempt to run for president in the South Carolina primaries, and even offered himself up as a vice presidential choice should the comedian actually win the nomination. In February 2008 the former governor officially endorsed U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries. The Obama campaign, in turn, named Hodges as one of its national co-chairs.

Hodges and his wife Rachel live in Columbia with their two sons. He is an Episcopalian.


  1. ^ a b "James Hovis Hodges 84th Governor of the State of South Carolina". www.carolana.com. Retrieved February 4, 2022.
  2. ^ "The Honorable James H. Hodges". Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina. Archived from the original on December 16, 2004. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c "The Honorable Jim Hodges". Office of the Governor, State of South Carolina. 2001. Archived from the original on December 13, 2002.
  4. ^ "Hodges, James H. "Jim"". Our Campaigns. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  5. ^ Melton, Brian (December 3, 1986). "Democrat wins vote in S.C. – Hodges takes over Mangum's old seat". Charlotte Observer. p. 1A.
  6. ^ a b "Jim Hodges: 1998 Democratic Candidate for Governor of South Carolina". Hodges98.com. Archived from the original on January 29, 1999. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  7. ^ Edsall, Thomas B. (September 30, 1998). "S. Carolina Incumbent in Unexpected Tussle". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on August 16, 2000. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  8. ^ Swindell, Bill (July 11, 1998). "Hodges' war chest trails Beasley". The Post and Courier. Charleston, S.C. Archived from the original on July 14, 1998. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  9. ^ "The new governors". The Washington Post. November 5, 1998. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  10. ^ a b Romine, Ronald (May 17, 2016). "Hodges, James Hovis". South Carolina Encyclopedia. University of South Carolina. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  11. ^ Carter, Luther F., and Young, Richard D. (2000). "The Governor: Powers, Practices, Roles, and the South Carolina Experience". The South Carolina Governance Project. Center for Governmental Services, Institute for Public Service and Policy Research, The University of South Carolina. Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved March 28, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ a b c Click, Carolyn (October 13, 2002). "Self-effacing Hodges always goal-oriented". The State. Archived from the original on November 10, 2002. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  13. ^ "S. Carolina Governor Signs King Holiday Bill; Added Confederate Day Prompts Criticism", Jet, Johnson Publishing Company, vol. 97, no. 24, p. 49, May 22, 2000
  14. ^ Firestone, David (April 13, 2000). "S. Carolina Senate Votes To Remove Confederate Flag". New York Times. Retrieved May 25, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ Foster, David D. (2005). "Current State Legislative and Judicial Profiles on Land-Use Regulations in the U.S." (PDF). p. 114. Retrieved August 17, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ DeMao, Alisa (September 18, 1999). "Hodges apologizes for evacuation traffic problems". Augusta Chronicle. Archived from the original on January 18, 2000. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  17. ^ Wald, Matthew L. (September 19, 1999). "The Perfect Traffic Jam". The New York Times. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  18. ^ Person, Joseph (July 19, 2003). "USC makes changes after recruiting violations". The State. Archived from the original on August 4, 2003. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  19. ^ Sheinin, Aaron (November 5, 2002). "Sanford defeats Hodges to become next S.C. governor". The State. Archived from the original on November 16, 2002.
  20. ^ Stroud, Joseph S., and Sheinin, Aaron (October 13, 2002). "Clean campaigns sure look muddy". The State. Archived from the original on November 4, 2002.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of South Carolina
1998, 2002
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of South Carolina
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former Governor Order of precedence of the United States Succeeded byas Former Governor