GOP consultant Rod Shealy dies at 56

Rod Shealy
Rod Shealy
By Logan Smith - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Republican political consultant Rod Shealy died on Wednesday in Charleston after a long battle with cancer, according to South Carolina Republican Party Chair Karen Floyd. He was 56.

Shealy, who helped run campaigns for politicians such as Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer and senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint, gained notoriety for negative campaigning throughout his career. He underwent surgery in 2008 for a cancerous brain tumor at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, which is where he died on Wednesday.

Shealy chronicled his fight against cancer on his blog. The last post was in May. "Whatever my future holds is okay with me. It's a great life, and I love this life, but I've certainly had my fair share of it -- probably more than my share -- so when my time comes, it comes," he wrote.

Shealy was known for his colorful Hawaiian shirts, publishing six small newspapers and a bare knuckles style that's gotten him in trouble. He was first diagnosed with melanoma in 1983.

He is perhaps best known for his 1990 recruitment of an unemployed black fisherman to run against Arthur Ravenel for the U.S. House to drive up white voter turnout and help his sister in another primary the same day.

Shealy's political allies and foes alike were quick to offer their sympathies and memories upon learning of Shealy's death on Wednesday. "I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today if it weren't for Rod Shealy," said Republican consultant Wesley Donehue.

"I'm very saddened about Rod Shealy's death," said Democratic consultant Lachlan McIntosh. "He and I engaged in many ferocious battles over the past 10 years - I loved every minute of it."

Information about a memorial service has not been released.

Copyright 2010 WIS. All rights reserved. AP contributed to this report.