David Beasley

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David Muldrow Beasley

Executive Director of the World Food Programme
Assumed office 
April 4, 2017
Preceded by Ertharin Cousin

In office
January 11, 1995 – January 13, 1999
Preceded by Carroll Campbell
Succeeded by James Hovis "Jim" Hodges

South Carolina State Representative
for District 56
In office
January 9, 1979 – January 10, 1995
Preceded by Gary Byrd
Succeeded by Denny Neilson

Born February 26, 1957
Darlington, South Carolina
Political party Democrat-turned-Republican (1991)
Spouse(s) Mary Wood Payne Beasley
Alma mater Lamar High School

Clemson University
University of South Carolina (Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctorate)

Religion Christian

David Muldrow Beasley (born February 26, 1957) is a former Governor of his native South Carolina, with service for a single term from 1995 to 1999. He is a Democrat-turned-Republican. In 2017, nearly two decades after his governorship ended, Beasley was named the executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme.[1] The appointment came through Nikki Haley, then the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and herself a Republican former governor of South Carolina.


Beasley graduated from Lamar High School in Lamar in Darlington County. At the age of twenty, Beasley, while still a Democrat college student, was elected as the state representative for Darlington County. He enrolled first at Clemson University but then transferred to the University of South Carolina in the capital city of Columbia, from which he received a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies in 1979 and a Juris Doctorate from the School of Law in 1983.[2]


Beasley remained a state legislator until he was elected governor in 1994. In 1991, he switched parties. He was the Democrat Majority Whip from 1985 to 1986 and the Majority Leader from 1987 to 1989.[3] He served as the youngest Speaker Pro Tempore and Majority Leader in the nation.[4]

In the 1994 South Carolina gubernatorial election, both Beasley and his Democratic opponent, Lieutenant Governor Nick Andrew Theodore (born 1928) faced tough primary opposition within their respective parties. Beasley defeated former U.S. Representative and state Senator Arthur Ravenel, Jr. (born 1927) in both the primary and run-off, and went on to win, narrowly, the general election, 470,756 votes (50.4 percent) to Theodore's 447,002 (47.9 percent).[4]

During the single term of Governor Beasley, South Carolina had a record-low unemployment rate of 3.5 percent in 1998.[5]

Beasley emphasized his belief in Jesus Christ[6] and opposed gambling, which was legal in South Carolina until 2000, with video poker casinos established in convenience stores and gasoline stations, a phenomenon described by Beasley as "the crack cocaine of gambling." Because Beasley supported legislation that would outlaw gambling, the video poker industry responded with "Ban Beasley" radio advertising and billboards.[7]

From 1961 until 2000, the battle flag of the Confederate States of America flew atop the South Carolina State House. Initially, Beasley supported the practice, but in 1996, he reversed his position, and called for the flag to be relocated to a monument elsewhere on the grounds, costing him many Republican votes in his unsuccessful 1998 reelection bid. The Confederate flag was removed from the capitol dome in 2000, after Beasley left office. It was displayed on a pole in front of the statehouse until it was removed in 2015, at the prompting of Governor Nikki Haley after the Charleston church shooting.[8]

Beasley also faced allegations of having an affair with his former press secretary, Ginny Wolfe, but he disavowed the claim, saying, "I can tell you right now we [his wife the former Mary Wood Payne] have both been faithful to each other 100 percent."[6]

After, he lost his reelection bid in 1998 to Democrat James Hovis "Jim" Hodges (born 1956), Beasley became a fellow at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. In 2003, United States Senator Edward Moore Kennedy of Massachusetts awarded Beasley the John F. Kennedy "Profile in Courage Award" because of his call to remove the Confederate flag from the Capital dome.[9]

In 2004, Beasley entered the open competition to choose a successor to retiring Democratic Senator Ernest Hollings. He lost the Republican nomination to U.S. Representative Jim DeMint of Greenville, who won the general election.[10]

In 2007, Beasley endorsed Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, in the Republican presidential primaries, rather than eventual nominee, John Sidney McCain, III, of Arizona, who then lost the general election to Barack Hussein Obama.[11] In 2010, he endorsed Henry McMaster in the South Carolina Republican gubernatorial primary, but McMaster lost to Nikki Haley, later Beasley's benefactor.

Later years

In April 2005, Beasley established and incorporated the Center for Global Strategies, Ltd.[12]

In February 2017, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley nominated Beasley to be the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP).[13]He was chosen for the position the next month over twenty-two other applicants who had been nominated. Beasley's selection was based on his "extensive experience with key governmental and business leaders and stakeholders around the world, with very strong resource mobilization skills."[14]As the WFP director, Beasley also serves as the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.[15]

In December 2020, Beasley accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the WFP for its efforts in the fight against hunger.[16]


  1. Executive Director. wfp.org. Retrieved on October 5, 2021.
  2. A Nobel career path (February 10, 2021). Retrieved on February 12, 2021.
  3. Tonya Brown. Town of Society Hill salutes former S.C. Gov. David Beasley. wpde.com. Retrieved on October 5, 2021.
  4. 4.0 4.1 South Carolina – David Muldrow Beasley – 1995–1999. www.sciway.net. Retrieved on October 5, 2021.
  5. South Carolina Unemployment Rate. FRED Economic Research. Retrieved on October 5, 2021.
  6. 6.0 6.1 S. Carolina Incumbent in Unexpected Tussle. Retrieved on May 20, 2020.
  7. Louisiana Shuts Down Video Poker (July 1, 1999). Retrieved on October 5, 2021.
  8. Meg Kinnard. 10, 2015 20 years on, ex-SC gov Beasley's prayer on flag answered Confederate battle flag finds a new home among artifacts. Charleston Post and Courier. Retrieved on October 5, 2021.
  9. David Beasley & #124; JFK Library. jfklibrary.org. Retrieved on October 5, 2021.
  10. DeMint defeats Beasley in S. Carolina runoff (June 23, 2004). Retrieved on March 28, 2017.
  11. Huckabee Picks Up Key Endorsement. The State (May 19, 2007). Retrieved on April 22, 2015.
  12. Our Board. Retrieved on October 5, 2021.
  13. Schuyler Kropf (February 28, 2017). Nikki Haley nominates former South Carolina Gov. David Beasley for U.N. food post. The Charleston Post and Courier. Retrieved on October 5, 2021.
  14. David Beasley of United States appointed as head of UN emergency food agency. UN News Centre (March 29, 2017). Retrieved on June 28, 2017.
  15. Senior Management Group. United Nations (November 17, 2018). Retrieved on October 5, 2021.
  16. A Nobel career path (February 10, 2021). Retrieved on October 5, 2021.