Restructuring support in the Senate

In the six votes on restructuring the state’s constitutional offices (Adjutant General, Comptroller General, Superintendent of Education, Agriculture commissioner, Secretary of State, Lieutenant governor), the party loyalty showed, with the GOP making up the core of the majority that voted for the proposals, and the Democrats making up the majority of those in opposition.

Obedience by Republicans and disobedience by Democrats was key to the success or failure of the proposals. All but one proposal gained a simple majority, but only one broke got the thirty-one votes required to advance a proposal to the 2008 ballot: Comptroller General (thirty-two in the affirmative). Two others - Commissioner of Agriculture and Secretary of State – fell short by a single vote.

Considering the importance of party voting, a little analysis of who voted which way shows some interesting observations about party loyalty, or the lack thereof:

Crossing over: In averaging the votes, Democrats were twice as likely to vote in favor of the restructuring proposals (average 3.67 out of 20 members) than Republicans were to vote in opposition (average 1.83 out of 26 members).

Defections per vote: The GOP did much better, with more than two defectors on only two of the six votes (three for Adjutant General and four for Lt. Governor) than the Democrats, who lost more than two on four of six votes (six for Adj. Gen., five for Comptroller Gen., three for Ag. Commissioner, and five for Sec. of State).

Notable crossovers: Three Democrats voted for a majority of the proposals (Lourie – five, Setzler and Sheheen – four), while only Knotts voted against a majority of the proposals – four times. All other Republicans crossed over only once or twice, but two other Democrats crossed over to the GOP majority on three votes.

“New Democrats”?: Both Lourie and Sheheen are considered to be up-and-comers in the Democratic party. Both took GOP-leaning Senate districts by garnering considerable cross-over votes, and in these votes, it would seem as if they were maneuvering toward the center, by supporting these key initiatives of Governor Sanford. This won’t hurt them with their swing voters, and certainly help draw attention upon them as potentially-viable Democratic prospects for statewide offices in 2008.

The GOP holds the strategic high ground on this issue. With a little more work, or if another seat or two changes hands in 2008 (and there are far more Democrats in GOP Senate districts than Republicans in Democratic ones), it seems as if substantial restructuring of constitutional offices is simply a question of “when”. The Democrats face the challenge of restoring discipline on an issue which can reinforce GOP power, but which most voters could care less about either way.

If Republicans were to offer a deal to Democrats to offer “immunity” for the Education and Adjutant General offices in return for support for the Agriculture and Secretary of State’s offices, they might well get the additional vote needed to pass both.

Barring any reversal of political fortunes, it’s hard to see how the Democrats can hold this tide back much longer.

7 Response to "Restructuring support in the Senate"

  1. Anonymous 31/1/07 01:23
    i can't see how you oppose restructuring the comptroller and still call yourself a republican. do you support reform, or not?
  2. Anonymous 31/1/07 01:32
    how come the Treasurer's office got overlooked? as much as Ravenel talked about restructuring, you'd figure this office would've been first on the list.

    maybe some people don't want him to run for the Senate, and think that if they end the office, then he's freed from the promise he made to not run for the Senate if elected.
  3. kristin 31/1/07 09:26
    Regarding the Comptroller and the Treasurer: IMHO it's the Budget and Control Board that is at stake and that is why the legislature doesn't want to make them appointed positions.

    Where do all loyal staff people go to finish out their vesting in the SC Retirement system? The Budget and Control Board.

    Who comprise the BCB Board? The Governor, Treasurer, Comptroller, Chairman of the Finance Committee in the Senate and Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in the House.

    Restructure the administrative side of our state government and what happens to the limitless employment these board members have to offer?
  4. Anonymous 31/1/07 10:09
    GO SANFORD!!!
  5. moye 31/1/07 14:47
    I am mostly a Sanford man on most stuff but I believe that the Treasurer and Secretary of State and maybe the Comptroller should be elected. Of course I may change my mind in the future.
  6. Brian McCarty 1/2/07 02:13
    Of course thinking Democrats like the restructuring idea. It gives them the best shot of taking over state government again. If they only have to get one office elected, (the Governor), they can fill the others with people ready to carry out a big government agenda on day one.

    It is hard to picture the SC electorate voting a straight Democratic ticket on the constitutional officers as they stand, but winning one is possible.

    I am suprised Sheheen and Lourie, who both supposedly harbor gubernatorial dreams, don't have Sanford stickers on the their cars.
  7. Anonymous 1/2/07 13:30
    pretty good analysis. i'll bet someone is working to cut just that kind of a deal right about now.

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