I supported Bob Staton in the primary, in part because I felt Floyd's support base was too far right, and her emphasis on issues, such as school choice (which I support), was directed at that base. Focusing so much on that narrow a base of support, while valuable in a GOP primary, could scare moderate voters (just ask David Beasley) and be a fatal weakness in a fall campaign.
I expected the Floyd campaign to hunker down and ride the usual GOP advantage to victory, with a minimum of effective effort to reach the political center or into key Democratic constituencies. In a state where the GOP has won a staggering majority of races for constitutional offices since the early 90s, it's certainly a smart way to play it.
Yesterday, I got to eat some of my words for lunch, and I’m big enough to admit it.
Monday, Floyd stood up with a number of black community leaders and public figures from around the state who announced their support for her. Bold move.
However, this group of endorsers included a Democratic legislator, and a former Democratic candidate for Superintendent of Education - the kind of people who would usually back their party’s nominee, or quietly sit the race out so as not ruffle feathers with their fellow Democrats.
Statements by two Democrats at this event were particularly bold:
"I have been a lifelong Democrat but in this election I am supporting Karen Floyd because our young black men are not getting the education they deserve in the current system. The Education Department has been reporting how much our test scores are improving, but what they never acknowledge is that the achievement gap between black children and white children continues to grow. Frankly, I’m tired of seeing our young black men graduate high school without knowing how to read and write."-African American Hall of Fame inductee Dewey Tullis
"Members of the South Carolina Legislature have approved education funding increases in several consecutive sessions. We voted for the increases with the assurance the system needed more money to turn our current situation around. But the spending increases have done little, if anything, to affect change in the African American children’s test scores, ability to read and write and drop out rate."-State Representative Harold Mitchell (D – Spartanburg)
“an ‘act of desperation,’ spurred by slipping support in her own party and driven by outside money coming into the state supporting tax credits that would harm rural and economically disadvantaged areas, and blacks in particular.”
- The State, 8/29/06
This effort to reach out to traditional Democratic constituencies was a surprising turn of direction by the Floyd campaign and certainly qualifies as my political “Play of the Week”.
While it remains to be seen if this is the beginning of a bold effort by her campaign to reach voters in the political center, or just an isolated bright idea, it certainly makes this race one to watch.