In early 1961 a vacancy occurred in the county’s S.C. House of Representatives delegation, requiring a special off-year election to fill the unexpired term. Although a Republican had not held a seat in the General Assembly since 1902, local party leaders moved quickly to recruit Boineau as their candidate. Boineau won handily with fifty-five percent of the vote. He ran strongest in white precincts in Columbia, while Joe Berry, his principal opponent, received disproportionate support from black precincts and in the county’s less urbanized areas.

Legislator. Boineau was the first Republican to be elected to the South Carolina General Assembly in the twentieth century. He was born on September 27, 1923, in Columbia to Charles E. Boineau and Bessie Tripett. Raised in Camden, he was educated in public schools and attended the Citadel from 1941 to 1943. During World War II he served as a navy fighter pilot in the Pacific.

Returning to Columbia in 1945, Boineau joined the family’s trucking company, engaged in local business affairs, and was director of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce from 1956 to 1958. In the 1950s he was active in Richland County politics, and following his involvement in the group South Carolina Democrats for Nixon in 1960, he affiliated with the state’s fledgling Republican Party.

In early 1961 a vacancy occurred in the county’s S.C. House of Representatives delegation, requiring a special off-year election to fill the unexpired term. Although a Republican had not held a seat in the General Assembly since 1902, local party leaders moved quickly to recruit Boineau as their candidate. He faced Joe Berry, Jr., who gained ballot access by petition but had the official backing of the Richland County Democratic organization. A third candidate, W. R. Hanahan, waged a write-in campaign.

At the outset, Boineau pledged to run his own campaign on national issues. He focused on President John Kennedy’s “New Frontier,” arguing that the administration’s policies were taking the country “down the road to socialism.” His effort was largely financed from small contributions, although Spartanburg textile executive Roger Milliken personally funded one-tenth of his expenses. Boineau also relied on a business-oriented political action committee for support.

In the August 8 election, Boineau won handily with fifty-five percent of the vote. He ran strongest in white precincts in Columbia, while Joe Berry, his principal opponent, received disproportionate support from black precincts and in the county’s less urbanized areas. In victory, Boineau said that he had “proved that ‘Republican’ is not a bad word” in South Carolina. The story of his election was reported around the world, and he received hundreds of congratulatory notes and telephone calls from throughout the country. “You did it!” wrote Republican U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona. “You will go down in history as the first Republican to crack the solid ranks of the Democrats in South Carolina.”

In 1962 Boineau sought reelection, this time running with a full slate of Republican House candidates, but all were defeated. In 1964 he was again a candidate for the S.C. House of Representatives but was again unsuccessful. The same year he was a delegate to the Republican national convention in San Francisco that nominated Barry Goldwater for president.

After his elected service, Boineau and his wife, Elizabeth Boatright Boineau, resided in Columbia. He died in Columbia June 1, 2005, and was buried in the columbarium of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Columbia.

Boineau, Charles Evans, Jr. Papers. Modern Political Collections, South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia.

Kalk, Bruce H. The Origins of the Southern Strategy: Two-Party Competition in South Carolina, 1950–1972. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2001. Sampson, Gregory B. “The Rise of the ‘New’ Republican Party in South Carolina, 1948–1974: A Case Study of Political Change in the Deep South.” Ph.D. diss., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1984.

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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Boineau, Charles Evans, Jr
  • Author Neal D. Thigpen
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • URL http://www.scencyclopedia.org/sce/entries/boineau-charles-evans-jr/
  • Access Date November 14, 2019
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • Original Published Date May 17, 2016
  • Date of Last Update October 14, 2016