Crawford Cook passed away this past weekend. He was the ultimate political insider. In 1997, he graciously sat for an oral history interview during which he reflected on his life.
He began his life in politics as campaign manager for Marshall Parker’s 1962 bid for Lieutenant Governor. Parker, then a Democrat, lost to Bob McNair, but in 1966 mounted a ferocious challenge as a Republican in the race for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Fritz Hollings. Cook worked for Hollings in that race and then served as Hollings’ chief of staff in Washington. Cook returned to South Carolina after Hollings’ successful 1968 campaign for a full term in the Senate. He later was closely associated with John West, South Carolina governor and Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. We will miss this grand gentleman.
His oral history will soon be mounted on the SCPC web site. In our interview, I noted that Hollings gave Cook great credit for his primary ousting of incumbent senator Donald S. Russell, who had stepped down as Governor to be appointed to the Senate after the death of senior Senator Olin D. Johnston. Cook then went on to help Hollings turn back Parker in the general election. Hollings noted the deep personal ties Cook had forged with leaders across the state. Cook responded, “He’s never told me that, but I’m glad to hear it because it really was very important. During my years with the Municipal Association, when the legislature was not in [session] I traveled almost constantly, making speeches for mayors and councilmen, at civic clubs, at church meetings, etc. I made a lot of personal friends across the state among the mayors and the councilmen. Frankly, I was surprised, when it came time to organize for Hollings, how many there really were and how willing they were to really go to bat for Fritz.”
By Herb Hartsook