SOUTH CAROLINA: Born during the presidency of Teddy Roosevelt, trapped behind German lines on D day, and the only person ever to win a write-in campaign for the U.S. Senate, Strom Thurmond appears tanned and ready to run for an unprecedented eighth term. "He is a fascinating man, and too easily discounted," reports TIME's Lisa H. Towle from Raleigh, North Carolina. "I don't think there is a South Carolinian alive today who has not received a letter from him. When you graduate from high school, he sends you a letter. Everybody." It is Thurmond's service to his constituents and his attention to detail which make him so popular in his home state. If he runs again, as expected, Towle says the 93-year-old legislator would be favored to win. "Even if the voters are worried about his age or his health, that does not mean they'll vote against him," she adds. Thurmond is a few weeks away from becoming the oldest member of Congress ever, and he would be 100 years old at the end of an eighth term. Many from beyond South Carolina's borders have trouble understanding how Thurmond, who vehemently fought against forced "race mixing" in the '60s, can remain so popular. Towle points out that Thurmond's record on civil rights (He also voted to make Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a holiday) shows a savvy both for the opinion of his constituents and for the winds of political change.