South Carolina is one of five Southern states where Democratic retirements give Republicans the edge. The retirement of Democratic Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings has the GOP jumping at the chance to take over the seat in the increasingly GOP-leaning state.
Rep. Jim DeMint, a three-term Republican congressman, will take Democratic state Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum this fall.
DeMint advanced from a runoff victory over former Gov. David Beasley, who had hoped for a political comeback. Beasley had been bounced from the governor's office in 1998 after angering voters by calling for lowering the Confederate flag from atop the Statehouse and trying to ban video poker.
Tenenbaum faced no major primary opposition as she advanced to the November election.
Former three-term Rep. Bob Inglis, a Republican, will run again for his old seat, which is being vacated by DeMint. He'll take on Democrat Brandon Brown in November.
Longtime Sen. Strom Thurmond died in June 2003 at the age of 100. The Republican had been the oldest and longest-serving senator when he retired in January 2003 at the end of his term. In December 2003, shortly after his death, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, came forward saying she was Strom's bi-racial daughter. The 78-year-old retired schoolteacher had long been rumored to be the daughter of the one-time segregationist. She said Thurmond fathered her when he was a 22-year-old living in his parents' home, where her mother, then 16, had been working as a maid.
In the 2002 elections, Rep. Lindsey Graham was elected to succeed Thurmond. Graham defeated Democrat Alex Sanders, the former president of The College of Charleston.
Republican former Rep. Mark Sanford, who promised to improve the economy, ousted one-term Democratic Governor Jim Hodges to become the state's newest governor.
In the House races, Republican Gresham Barrett won Graham's seat.