GOP wins landslide victory in the Blogland

Early voting numbers are in for the Blogland precinct, and ... yep, you guessed it - the GOP ticket won in a landslide, including:

John McCain
Senator Lindsey Graham
Representative Henry Brown
... and the rest of the Republican ticket.

We've also endorsed the following candidates for various offices across South Carolina as being worthy of your vote:

State Senate races:
Dee Compton, District 10 -Abbeville, Greenwood, Laurens Counties
Shane Massey, District 25 - Aiken, Edgefield, McCormick & Saluda Counties

State House races:
Marvin Rogers, District 49 - York County
Phil Lowe, District 60 - Florence & Sumter Counties
Nikki Haley, District 87 - Lexington County
Jill Kelso, District 108 - Charleston, Georgetown & Horry Counties
Shannon Erickson, District 124 - Beaufort County

County offices:
Dean Fowler, Florence County's Treasurer
Sabrina Gast, York County's Coroner

In any event, we encourage you to not punch the master party button. Instead, use your head, think a little, and go for the sick and twisted pleasure of punching each Republican spot on the ballot.

For a little fun ... if there's an uncontested Democrat on the ballot, remember the write-in feature is easier to use than ever, with the touch-screen keyboard. In those cases, you may want to consider having a little fun by typing in the names of movie or cartoon characters.

As for uncontested Republicans ... what the heck - do it to them too.

But if you haven't already cast your ballot, please take a moment to watch this video, and be sure to share it with any of your friends who have yet to vote:

WASP on Barack Obama: "Call him what he truly is… a Marxist, in Socialist clothing!"

While we haven't always agreed with his political insights, we've found the frontman of Tipper Gore's favorite band - WASP - Blackie Lawless to be outspoken on issues. Us 80s headbangers remember how he took on that Democratic fascist pig and her PRMC gang. Here in the Blogland, we've talked about the WASP album, "Dying for the World", which was inspired by Lawless' rage over the attacks of 9/11.

Now, he's standing up to the latest fascist pig to rise up on the national political scene, Barack Obama, challenging the dangers that lie just below the surface in a posting on his website entitled "Read in case of National Emergency":

The books Obama has written about himself are very clear as to his true ambitions concerning his Leftist, Marxist views but the average person will not take the time to read them, In the 1920’s while in prison, a young Adolf Hitler wrote “Mein Kampf” (My Struggle) which outlined his entire plan for World Domination and the extermination of the Jewish race. No one would read it, and then when they did it was too late…. any book that was not approved by the Nazi Party was burned. The “Communist Manifesto” by Karl Marx at one time, was required reading in our schools. This book is Obama’s “How To” guide with his ideal of the “Redistribution of Wealth”. If you don’t think so, go back and look at the above radio interview. Somewhere Karl Marx with his Godless, Utopian vision is laughing in delight.

If it is true that “What is Past, is Prologue” then we need look no further than Obama’s books. His blueprint is there in black and white. Literally and figuratively.

I will vote for McCain, not because I believe in all he stands for, but as a mandate against Obama, to keep him from becoming President. Yes, I will cling to my guns and my religion, and continue to believe in the Constitution, the Cornerstone of our society and trust that this is STILL a ”Government of the People, By the People, For the People”.

The point of all this is, that no matter whatever any of us encounter in life, look for the truth. The truth can and will stand up to anything. If that truth cannot stand up to scrutiny then you must see it and call it for what it truly is.

If any would be Messiah comes along and he looks like it, acts like it and smells like it then you call him what he truly is… a Marxist, in Socialist clothing!

Amen, brother.

This'll be our last post on the subject, because for the next few days we here in the Blogland are gonna be doing all we can to stop that lying SOB and his militant cohorts from winning the White House.

They wanted a fight, so we're gonna give 'em one!

Sic Willie had a good idea

Some Blogland readers have noticed we've made a couple of changes. For those of you who haven't really noticed, or wondered why we changed, we'll tell you what we did, and why we did it:

  • The advertising sidebars which provided nothing more than visual clutter are gone. The Adsense service was paying so little for ads that we figured it would be another year or two before we saw our first $100 check for ad revenue. That blows.

  • There are now featured videos in the place of the ad sidebars. Those will feature various cool music performances, along with the occasional video from stuff like the big Master's graduation.

We figured you, our loyal readers for whom we are eternally grateful, would appreciate the reduced visual clutter and find the new content more entertaining than the ad boxes.

But we won't lie - it's not our idea. One of the beautiful things about the net is that no idea is too good to be stolen, and smart ideas are viral. This revamp was inspired by seeing Sic Willie add video content when he revamped his blogsite. We thought it was cool, so we decided to do it too.

But rest assured we have no intentions of trying to move in on his soft porn business. We've got that much respect for the guy.

Elect Jill Kelso - A fresh new voice in the State House

Voters along the South Carolina coast have an opportunity to shake things up and send a great new voice to the State House by electing Republican Jill Kelso to House Seat 108, which covers the lower Grand Strand, the city of Georgetown, and much of northern Charleston County.

The incumbent, Democrat Vida Miller, has held the seat since 1997, appealing to crossover voters as a self-identified independent. Thus far, it has worked, but Kelso has worked hard and presented herself as a candidate whose affiliations and political philosophies are not in conflict. From what we've been told, she's made considerable headway in her candidacy.

Kelso has taken Miller to task for ignoring issues in the district, including being an absentee board member of a non-profit whose director had raided them for over five million dollars, and has campaigned hard on a platform based upon strong constituent outreach, supporting restructuring and challenging Columbia's pork barrel culture. While we see these as good things, the incumbent doesn't seem to think fixing the tax-and-spend culture that has created a state budget which roller coasters into disaster during every economic slowdown is that important.

When we talked with Kelso, she didn't take the conventional partisan tack, but rather talked about issues and ideas with an eye on solving problems, not scoring political points. That is just the kind of leadership our state needs.

We would never presume to call someone with Miller's record of community service unethical or corrupt because such charges wouldn't be true. But sooner or later, mistakes are made, and when that happens, it's time for a change.

The time for a change has come, and Jill Kelso has shown us she's up to the task of representing District 108, which is why we're endorsing her.

Keep Dean Fowler Treasurer - Florence County's fiscal watchdog

Today, we couldn't help but notice our good friend Mike Reino actually beat us to the punch with something we were meaning to get around to writing when he endorsed Florence County Tresurer Dean Fowler for re-election.

While Mike captures what Fowler does at the local level, we'd like to take this to another level and tell you that Dean Fowler is recognized around the state as a go-to guy when it comes to running an efficient Treasurer's office with great customer service. That level of trust is an honor accorded to few people who hold such offices around the state.

But while many County Treasurers are content to sit back and collect taxes, that's not enough for Fowler, who has been a long-time critic of taxes and spending in local politics. He sees the real world impact taxes have upon Florence County residents, and he's not afraid to speak out to help protect them from excessive taxation.

Fowler's opponent was dismissed from his job as the Florence County Tax Assessor after an investigation turned up a wide range of problems with his office:

Florence County documents show there were numerous financial, legal and other concerns with former Tax Assessor Leval Williams who said charges during his grievance hearing were based on “misinterpretations and lies.”

The documents, released to the Morning News under a Freedom of Information request, also provided details of his grievance process which has upheld Williams’

Williams, now running for county treasurer, was fired March 14 from the tax assessor’s post.

- Documents detail concerns with former tax assessor, Florence Morning News, 10/25/08

Such allegations are troubling and Florence County voters can ill afford to take a chance on Williams. Especially when they have a strong incumbent in Fowler who knows the job and has done an outstanding job.

Doing your job well, and then going above and beyond the call of duty ia what real leadership is all about. That's what Florence County has in Dean Fowler, which is why Florence County voters should vote to give him another four years in office.

Re-elect Nikki Haley - A rising star and a leading reformer

Several years ago, Nikki Haley arrived in the House with a big splash when she knocked off the senior House member to win her Lexington-area House seat. Since then, she’s continued to draw attention as she’s aggressively pushed a reform agenda and challenged the status quo in Columbia.

More than once, we’ve helped promote her current reform effort – requiring roll-call voting in the General Assembly. Since she came out for it, a wave of support has built up behind it so big it’s hard to see this issue not moving forward when the General Assembly returns in January. Once that mission is completed, we expect she’ll move onto another issue which has long been overlooked. Fixing problems is what she enjoys doing, which makes her extremely valuable in the State House.

Given the district’s strong lean and the fact that this district hasn’t been represented by a Democrat in over three decades, we’re a little puzzled as to why someone would want to challenge her in the fall. But it’s a free country, so her challenger has every right to run. But running for office doesn’t mean one should win. Voters have a proven workhorse and reformer in Nikki Haley, and they would be wise to send her back to the House to continue doing what she’s been doing – working for to make our state friendlier for business growth, as well as fighting for much-needed reforms in state government.

Keep Shannon Erickson working hard in the State House

We’ve seen a lot of freshman hit the House with overly-high expectations, only to hit a brick wall when they realize how big a place the House can be. When Shannon Erickson hit the House last year, she didn’t let the task at hand discourage her, or buy into the school of thought that says freshman legislators are supposed to sit back, watch, and do little else.

We awarded her the Outstanding Freshman Representative award for this term because she has shown outstanding initiative and leadership. Combined with her tireless work ethic which has made her a successful businesswoman, Representative Erickson did something few legislators do in their first year – she pushed a bill through to the Governor’s desk. The Lauren Gentry Act was a real solution to a real problem in her district, as well as in schools across the state. Such vision and effectiveness in a first-year House member is rare indeed. If returned to the House, she’ll build on this record of hard work, smart legislative leadership, and solid attention to issues in her district to become a fast riser in the House.

Her opponent’s pending criminal charges of causing a disturbance at Ladys Island Elementary, in the heart of District 124, are concerning. While the charges haven’t gone to trial, we know that they haven’t been dropped either, which gives us reason to view his candidacy with some caution. To be honest, we’re curious as to why he’d even run for office with such charges unresolved. The voters of District 124 should ask him to bring some resolution to this case.

Representative Erickson has a record that clearly makes her the choice for the seat. We’ve seen amazing things from her, and if the voters of her District give her another term, we know they won’t be disappointed.

Re-elect Shane Massey – Fresh new leadership worth keeping

Last year, in the special election fight to replace Democratic Senator Tommy Moore, few people expected Shane Massey to emerge from the pack, but he did, scoring an impressive landslide run-off win and then he prevailed in a tough fight against a veteran Democratic House member. We endorsed him in that race, recognized him as the Outstanding Freshman Senator from this four-year legislative term and he hasn’t disappointed us.

One of his first acts was to sponsor legislation to put an end to earmark spending in the state budget, a key campaign promise which he eagerly kept. He is also a hard worker back in his district, eagerly giving out the number to his cell phone, which he calls a “24-7 constituent service hotline”. With a passion to address big problems, as well as pay close attention to matters back home, Massey has a balanced perspective towards the job of being a Senator which has received considerable praise.

Senator Shane Massey has met and exceeded expectations for a freshman Senator, and has earned the respect of many both inside and outside of the Senate. He’s worked hard for his district, as well as the best interests of the state as a whole. These are all good reasons why voters would be wise to vote to keep him in the Senate.

Send Dee Compton to the State Senate

The race to replace Senator John Drummond has been a close race since the spring, and two good candidates have offered for the seat: Republican Dee Compton, a member of Greenwood County Council, and Floyd Nicholson, the Mayor of Greenwood.

With a record of fiscal conservatism backed by no less than S.C. Association of Taxpayers President Don Weaver, Compton has consistently voted against raising County residential property taxes. Not only that, he worked to find ways to consolidate departments, implementing hiring freezes, and privatize those county services which could be done more for less by the private sector. In a rural area in which attracting new industry and jobs is a challenge and money can be tight in many households, this kind of fiscal responsibility is exactly what the District needs.

Compton brings a record of leadership in both Greenwood City and County, and his hard-working candidacy enjoys the support and respect of regional and statewide leaders. While the Democratic candidate has been a good citizen with a commendable record of service to the people of Greenwood, Compton's record and broad base of support from both citizens and community and political leaders makes the difference in this race.

Next week, we’re asking the residents of District Ten to trust Compton to be their next outstanding Senator. We believe he is best-qualified to get results for them in Columbia.

Keep Sabrina Gast – York County’s proven and hard-working Coroner

We met Sabrina Gast last spring for the first time. As the Governor’s interim appointee to the job, she brought tremendous credentials, as well as respectability to an office which gone through considerable negative publicity.

We encouraged Governor Sanford to pick her for the job because of these outstanding qualifications, as well as her strong willingness to serve the people of her county with competence, professionalism, and compassion. Her qualifications, her record of service, and commitment to an often-thankless job have proven her appointment to be a wise choice. The voters of York County would make an equally wise choice by voting to keep her as their Coroner.

Re-elect Phil Lowe – A hard worker in the State House

The race for House District 60 is likely to be a knock-down drag-out fight to the finish. But two years ago, when the seat was vacant and Phillip Lowe was running to replace retiring Rep. Marty Coates, we thought the same thing, but he proved us wrong when he scored a twenty-point win.

Usually there’s a reason a candidate pulls a blow-out victory in a tough race. We know why - Lowe's work ethic and willingness to focus on issues stands out.

In talking with his colleagues and getting to know him, we can see why he impressed the tough customers that are the voters of House District 60. In an era of well-packaged politicians, backed with slick and elaborately-spun messages, Lowe believes getting results requires hard work, instead of big talk or back-room deal-making. In his first two years in the House, he’s taken that outsider take on real-world leadership and put it to work for the Pee Dee in the State House.

In a district like this, there are a lot of people who like to take a long hard look at a candidate before they cast a ballot, which is commendable. We believe when they people of District 60 kick the tires and look under the hood to see what kind of Representative they presently have, they’ll find Lowe’s solid work ethic and willingness to see things through is worthy of their vote. If they want to keep a good thing going, they should send him back to the State House.

Vote for Marvin Rogers – The right voice for real change

For a long time, York County’s legislative delegation has seen little change. Senators Gregory, Hayes, and Peeler, along with Representatives Delleney, Kirsh, and Simrill are all into their second or third decade of legislative service. The departure of Rock Hill State Representative Bessie Moody-Lawrence, who has held Seat 49 since 1992, has created a rare opportunity for York County to send a new face to Columbia. While replacing that much experience would seem to present a tough challenge for voters, the choice is easier than one might think.

Our choice for the seat is Republican Marvin Rogers, who will face John King, the Democratic nominee.

In a district which is almost evenly split between rural and suburban mostly-white areas and mostly-black urban areas, Rogers has worked to reach all voters with an inclusive political agenda based upon addressing common concerns about economic development, promoting the quality of life, and bringing the district’s diverse communities together. While representing such a broad constituency might make him a wild card in the House, a little political independence can be a good thing.

It’s important to note that King’s family is a long-time family in Chester County politics. He moved to the district several years ago after his political career stalled in his home county. We think the voters deserve someone who wants to serve the public, not someone who sees them as stepping stones on the path of ambition.

The differences between Rogers and King are clear – honest and inclusive vision over blind political ambition. Rogers is the honest choice, and that’s why we’re supporting him. We hope the voters of District 49 will join us in doing so.

Beyond Election Day 2008: Declaring a winner

Regardless of who wins the White House next Tuesday night, the biggest winner of Election 2008 won’t be John McCain or Barack Obama, nor the party which controls Congress. The biggest winners of the 2008 election will be those whose pioneering efforts shifted political campaigning on the Internet from the fringes of American political culture into its mainstream.

In the 2004 elections, those who waged politics in the virtual world, such as Howard Dean and the blogger that debunked Dan Rather’s now-infamous Bush memo were like the Phil Sheridans and J.E.B. Stuart of the American Civil War - raiders who struck at the vulnerable flanks and rear of the battlefield, sometimes affecting the larger picture, sometimes not. This year, they are now among the Shermans and Stonewall Jacksons of the American political landscape – the leaders and orchestrators of powerful forces whose ranks and operations played key roles in the overall plans of the war.

We should not be surprised those who campaign via the Internet become the Grants and Lees of the 2010 and 2012 elections – the overall commanders of all the forces fighting for their cause. As with any profession, those who are successful at the lower levels – who often pioneer new tactics and approaches – ascend to the higher ranks. Someone who started as a blogger become a national campaign manager, or someone who started out organizing via MySpace or Facebook chair the DNC or RNC.

In his book
“Being Digital”, penned in the mid-1990s, Nicholas Negroponte described the early years of the Internet explosion, in which he predicted that these changes were inevitable and that radical changes upon how people communicate were soon to come:

The change from atoms to bits is irrevocable … Why now? Because the change is also exponential - small differences of yesterday can have suddenly shocking consequences tomorrow.

The difference between the electronic world and traditional campaign methodologies is stark – television ads and direct mail pieces which take days to produce and distribute to audiences are losing their influence upon voters, as web-delivered content, which can be rolled out in a matter of hours, wields increasing amounts of influence. While television campaigns have gradually shrunk from minutes in length to thirty seconds or even less, web videos on campaign websites are often one to three minutes long. This suggests that voters who skim newspapers, toss the direct mail pieces after a cursory glane, and won’t sit still for a 60 second tv spot will go online and spend several minutes watching an online video or reading a blog posting. This shift represents a profound change in the landscape of political communication.

The other effects of political activity on the Internet have also matured: the ability to recruit, organize and rally supporters of candidates, serve as primary sources of fundraising, and to influence the agendas of both traditional and new media outlets. It’s now difficult to imagine how today’s political candidates for offices higher than county dogcatcher can wage successful campaigns without incorporating internet tactics and tools into their campaigns.

In looking at the South Carolina political landscape, few will likely remember when yours truly authored the now-forgotten Evacuate Hodges website. While that website represented something new to South Carolina politics in its time – the use of the internet as a primary source of information dissemination – blogs, aggregator websites, comment sections in the web-posted new stories of traditional media websites are now commonplace, wielding considerable influences upon electioneering and public policy in South Carolina.

When you think about it, this rapid evolution and growth of influence sounds a lot like the changes Negroponte predicted. Today, Palmetto State politicians, strategists, lobbyists, and interest group leaders routinely seek the support of online political activists, and seldom a day goes by without some traditional news media outlet quoting (often without due credit) some website author or blogger.

The consequences of these changes are not just important for our own nation. American political tactics and strategies have both direct involvement and indirect influences upon campaigns waged in many of the world’s democracies, as what is proven effective in American campaigns is quickly exported elsewhere to win elections. Those who change how campaigns are waged here will end up influencing how democracy is practiced on a global scale.

Whether you’re talking about South Carolina, or the national political scene, this is the year the change from atoms to bits produced fundamental changes upon how we campaign for public office, as well as how we govern. These profound and lasting effects which will reach farther and last longer than the tenure of the next President. While John McCain or Barack Obama may shape the course of a nation, netroots culture will shape the future of democratic governance on a global scale. In doing so, those who have moved internet-based politics from the fringes to the mainstream have won the greatest victory of the 2008 elections.

Beyond Election Day 2008: A tough act to follow

In modern times, same-party Presidential succession has been a difficult task. Since FDR, no American President has succeeded a President of his party and went on to serve two full terms.

While Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford and George Bush were able to follow Presidents of their own party, all of them struggled in their administrations: after ascending to the White House after the death of FDR, Truman barely won election for his full term, Johnson was soon mired in Vietnam and dropped out of the 1968 election, Ford lost his bid for a full term, and Bush struggled through a wildly-swinging ’88 campaign, only to lose re-election. Adalai Stevenson, Richard Nixon (1960), Herbert Humphrey, and Al Gore all lost their efforts to keep the White House in the hands of their party.

That’s not a very good record, but there’s may be a good reason. In his book “Tides of Consent: How Public Opinion Shapes American Politics”, James A. Stimson looks at American attitudes on issues, as indicated by research data obtained from decades of American voter opinion surveys. His findings show a clear cyclical pattern in the mindsets of the American public, showing the presence of a political center in which a bloc of voters oscillate between the parties in sufficient number to sway Presidential elections between the two major parties. 

Based upon overall identification on issues, his research indicated that voters shifted towards the left on positions by just under 15% during the Eisenhower administration, 12% during the Reagan-Bush tenure, and towards the right by about 8% during the Clinton years. While it suggests voter opinions shift gradually under GOP administrations, they shift more quickly under Democratic administrations – which might help to explain the electoral romps of the GOP in the 1978 and 1994 elections, both presidential first mid-terms.

In looking at the average of polling data on public support for spending for education, health care, urban programs, and welfare programs, as well as increased taxes, voter support for these positions dropped to an average in the low 40s in the latter days of the Carter administration, then peaked near sixty percent when Clinton took office, only to shift back below the fifty percent mark at the end of the Clinton administration.

Stimson’s findings point out a major reason for these shifts: when a Presidential administration acts on an issue, voter opinions on that issue begin to shift away from that position. Stimson provides plenty of data to back up this position. We can see wide swings over a number of issues, typically shifting only when the party in the White House changes or significant actions like the 1982 tax cuts or 1996 welfare reform take place. Typically once an action is taken to address an issue where voter support has soured, or an administration has been seated which promises action on those issues, voters feel less averse to that issue.

While the Bush administration was often not very conservative, it was perceived as that. Domestic spending, long a concern of fiscal conservatives, skyrocketed, swelling the national debt and annual deficits and souring voters on the GOP brand name. But Stimson's data shows the same shift away from the Presidential party post-Watergate for Republicans and during the Carter and Clinton years for Democrats.

Those who argue the best thing for the GOP would be for McCain to lose may be right. The GOP quickly recovered from the post-Watergate years thanks to Carter’s blunders, but its party ranks withered and it lost considerable ground between the second Reagan mid-term and the election of Bill Clinton. If McCain pulls off a small win, a battered GOP may not be of much help to him, or be able to regain ground lost in recent years.

However, there is not a single Democratic President since FDR whose administrations went smoothly – Truman lost Congress and struggled to resolve the Korean War, JFK dealt with the Bay of Pigs, a growing Vietnam War and divides in his party over civil rights, Johnson with Vietnam, civil rights and widespread urban violence, Carter with foreign and energy policies and a massive recession, Clinton with his bungled first two years and the Monica Lewinsky affair. This doesn’t bode well for an Obama administration. Not only that, but history usually dictates that a party’s upswing will not last for long – typically two election cycles before stagnation sets in or the course reverses itself.

This should give both candidates, and their parties, much to think about and watch out for over the next two and four years.

Beyond Election Day: Looking ahead

Post-graduate school life has been a time for reflection – the process of pondering what one has accomplished. Along the way, that has included going back over papers from research projects, re-reading old journal articles and books, looking at a lot of stuff that was set aside for future research projects on a “just in case” basis, going to some conferences to present past research and show support for friends who are still in the graduate program.

One of my special areas of research in the field of communication, not surprisingly, was political communication. This being an election year, a lot of what I’m rummaging through is helping me understand what is going on out there.

Those who’ve attended my lectures know I’m fond of giving out some of my favorite book titles. I also enjoy giving them as gifts. Not the usual political books which present distilled writings of well-known politicos, but those who have great insights and/or experience in the campaign world, as well as those who’ve studied the political process and factors which help inform and guide the voting public. I find these works useful because I can, without knowing the affiliation of the authors, hold them up to what I see out there and find that they help me better understand what is going on, as well as predict what is to come.

In “Beyond Election Day”, I’m going to touch on some of this research to help better understand what is going on with this year’s voters, explain why it’s happening and help predict where we’ll go from here. Tomorrow will feature “A tough act to follow”, where I discuss the underlying historic voter trends, followed the next day by “Declaring a winner” - my prediction of who will really win on Election Day. This will include some keen insights from some of my favorite books and research authors.

As is the usual Blogland style, what you expect and what you end up getting are often very different. I promise this series will be no different, and hope it will give you some useful insights to ponder.

Happy Birthday to Cathy Gilbert

We wanted to wish Cathy Gilbert, the editor of the Manning Times, Clarendon County’s newspaper, a happy birthday (though we won’t say which one).

The intrepid staff – and the multiple personalities – that make up the Blogland team were invited to a birthday party hosted for Cathy by Clarendon County State Representative Cathy Harvin. The house was, to say the very least, impressive and the hospitality top-notch. Of the many friends and well-wishers there, local State Senator John Land paid the best tribute of all, praising her for her hard work in a wide range of community efforts, as well as by promoting a strong sense of community through her work at the newspaper.

Her gift basket, topped by a congratulatory proclamation from the Senate, was as overflowing as the praise, appreciation and friendship shown by the attendees.

While in a house full of Democrats, the many attendees overlooked the “Nobama” and McCain-Palin stickers on the car and made us feel right at home. It’s that kind of hospitality and sense of community has made Clarendon County our favorite rural community (well, that and D&H Barbeque – we’re hooked on the stuff like it’s crack).

We had a great time getting to meet some really good people, and appreciate the hospitality of the two best known Cathys of Clarendon County.

Happy 21st birthday Cathy!

Legislative race watch - Part 3: The Senate races

In this year’s Senate races, there aren’t a lot of seats that are contested, but a surprising number of those that are contested are pretty heated. Much of this is due to the fact that there are a handful of swing and GOP-leaning Senate districts that have remained in Democratic hands, often due to the presence of longtime Democratic incumbents in those seats.

Senate District 10 (Abbeville, Greenwood & Laurens Counties) – open Democrat:

Dee Compton ran a strong campaign in the primary and won the nomination big. He rolls into a fall race against Democrat Floyd Nicholson, the current Mayor of Greenwood. The last serious challenge the GOP waged for the seat was against John Drummond, the retiring incumbent, back in 2000. In that race, Republican Hunter Eddy waged an underfunded campaign against Drummond and still got 41 percent. Since then, Greenwood County, the core of the district, has turned from a Democratic-leaning county into a Republican one, with the GOP in control at the courthouse.

Without Drummond’s star power to hold the seat, Compton’s momentum and the GOP lean of the district puts him in the driver’s seat in the race for this seat, but Nicholson has a record and a support base in Greenwood. While Compton held a decent lead after the GOP runoff, there are those who think the race has closed considerably, giving Nicholson, who has doggedly hung on, an opportunity to hang on and keep the race close.

We think Compton will win, but this could be a close one. But if the GOP can’t win this one, then they might be on their way to having a very tough night statewide.

Senate District 11 (Spartanburg County) – incumbent Democrat:

Democratic Senator Glenn Reese has ridden out the rising GOP tide in the Upstate. Holding a seat he’d won in a special election following the Lost Trust conviction of Republican Rick Lee, he’s on his 17th year in the seat. Without fail, the GOP always finds a challenger and gives him a strong race. But while he’s never broken the sixty percent mark, he’s not lost either.

This time around, his challenger is Mike Gardner, a former Highway Patrolman. He’s got the county’s formidable GOP establishment solidly behind him, which never misses a chance to go after Reese in this GOP-leaning district. But this time, Gardner’s got extra help that Reese’s past outgunned challengers haven’t had – mailings by SCRG which are touting Gardner and attacking Reese. This time, Reese is going to have a tough challenge on his hands, and we don’t see any landslide coming for either candidate.

We think this race will be one to watch, and Gardner could make some surprising headway in a race that could come down to the wire. But a Gardner upset win will rely upon a strong GOP turnout, which is possible, but not assured.

Senate District 16 (Lancaster & York Counties) – open Republican:

In 1992, Greg Gregory scored a big upset win, ousting Red Hinson, who’d held the seat for a generation. While Gregory may have caught Democrats off-guard, the Democrats aren’t going to underestimate the GOP candidate this time around. Their candidate, Mandy Norell, is waging a strong campaign against Republican State Rep. Mick Mulvaney who represents about half the Senate district. A modest majority of the rest of the district is in the heavily-Republican precincts in the Fort Mill area, and the rest of the district is in central Lancaster County. If Mulvaney wins his House District precincts, he’ll be a sure bet to carry the seat.

We hear Mulvaney’s got a lead in this race, but both sides are still fighting hard for the seat, which says it’s closer that either side would like for it to be.

Senate District 25 (Aiken, Edgefield, McCormick & Saluda Counties) – incumbent Republican:

Last year, Shane Massey was one of several Republican candidates who entered the race to replace retiring Senator Tommy Moore. He raised eyebrows when he led in the primary and then scored a landslide run-off victory against Moore’s longtime campaign manager, and then scored an unlikely, but razor close, victory, beating a veteran Democratic House member in a seat with a 36% black voting population.

Knowing that ’08 would be a tough year for Republicans in his district, Massey never really quit campaigning to try to build a slight lead for re-election. Not surprisingly, the Democrats see the district’s demographics as giving them an opportunity to win the seat back and they’re giving it all they’ve got. This race is about a perfect toss-up, and it’s going to come down to turnout. The side which can turn out two or three hundred extra voters on Election Day will likely win this seat.

Senate District 28 (Dillon, Horry, Marion & Marlboro Counties) – incumbent Democrat:

Four years ago, Democrat Dick Elliot faced a challenger with little name recognition or resources, and barely held the seat. This time, he’s got a real fight with Republican Bill McKown.

McKown has worked the district well, including Democratic areas, most notably took sides with Marlboro residents in fighting a proposed regional landfill, and he’s raised a ton of money. But Elliot expected his close ’04 finish would lead to strong challenger this time around, and has fought back hard to fend off McKown’s challenge, including puzzling support from Buddy Witherspoon, who recently blasted Senator Graham for cozying up to Democrats, and County Auditor Lois Eargle, who was well known for backing Governor Sanford’s Democratic challenger.

If Horry County’s GOP turnout stays high, and is augmented by many of the new GOP voters who have moved into the coastal portion of Elliot’s district, McKown could score an upset. In any event, this race will be close and bears watching. If the GOP can turn their voters out and keep them united enough to win this seat, it’ll probably be a signal that they’re having a pretty strong night throughout the state.

Legislative race watch - Part 2: Lowcountry House races

House District 97 (Dorchester County) – incumbent Democrat:

This seat has changed parties in all but one election since 2000, and nobody has won this seat by more than a couple of hundred or so votes in that time. In 2000, George Bailey gave it up to make a bid for the State Senate, and took it back two years later. In 2006, he lost the seat to Democrat Patsy Knight. This time, he’s the challenger and she’s the incumbent, and both sides are working hard to edge the other out.

We think this race could go either way, but you can expect that the outcome will lbe about as close as the last four races waged for it.

House District 108 (Charleston, Georgetown, and Horry Counties) – incumbent Democrat:

Since Vida Miller won an open race for this seat in 1996, the GOP has tried repeatedly to win the seat back. Beating an incumbent often requires recruiting the right candidate and running them in the right year, where favorable turnout would push them over the top. Thus far, these efforts have fallen short – either with good candidates in bad years, or bad candidates in good years. But this year, Republican Jill Kelso is running a surprisingly strong challenge to Miller.

Kelso has worked the ground aggressively, while Miller seems to have made some mistakes in her re-election bid. Kelso has taken advantage of every opportunity to challenge the incumbent, and Miller’s people seem to be playing catch-up, which is unusual given Miller’s usual ability to keep the high ground in her past races.

Miller hasn’t held onto this GOP-leaning seat for twelve years by being a lousy candidate or leaving re-election to chance, and this time is no different. But this time, Kelso is giving her a hell of a fight in a race that could be close.

House District 115 (Charleston County) – incumbent Republican:

Two years ago, Republican Wallace Scarborough streak of easy rides in this district ended when he won in a close race to Democrat Eugene Platt. While Platt was itching for rematch, Anne Patterson Hutto argued that a more serious Democratic candidate could have won the race, and Democratic primary voters gave her a chance to do so this year.

Two years ago, Scarborough’s divorce issues were played up in the news media, costing him considerable ground that Platt was eager to exploit. While he’s resolved the divorce and moved on (and we’ve discussed some of that here), Democrats still feel these issues are still around. Political history usually suggests that if an incumbent survives a race where these issues surface, the negatives usually fade and voters move on. We’ll see if that’s the case this time around.

This House seat hasn’t changed hands very often in the last three decades, reflecting the cautious mindsets of the quiet middle class residents who make up much of its population. But when they do get a new legislator, they’re not afraid to boot the old one out. Of the four people to hold this seat since 1980, two of the four were ousted for re-election: Republican Woody Aydlette in 1988 and Republican Lynn Seithel in 2000. Scarborough almost became the third out of four to get the boot two year ago, and he’s fighting hard to avoid that fate this time around.

It seems Scarborough’s campaign is a little better organized this time around and he’s ready for a fight. Which is a good thing, because this time around, he’s got one.

House District 124 (Beaufort County) – incumbent Republican:

Last year, Shannon Erickson won this open House seat after the incumbent won a special election to go to the State Senate. The Democrats, who haven't run a candidate for this seat in years, found one with local defense attorney Jim Brown.

Brown has received a round of negative publicity here and elsewhere in both new and print media over outstanding criminal charges for a disturbance in a Beaufort area school, while Erickson has remained focused on her message of hard-working constituent service and her accomplishments at getting legislation moving through the General Assembly - which is something few freshmen have the ability to do.

The district’s voting population is 36% black, which means the Democrats have a good core voter bloc to start with, but Erickson has worked hard and the most of the rest of the district’s population is overwhelmingly Republican. The yellow-dog Democrats that her challenger needs simply don't exist in that district. While it’s not likely that Erickson can run away with a big win, we think this race is still hers to lose.

Legislative race watch - Part 1: Upstate and Midlands House races

House District 29 (Chester, Cherokee and York Counties) – incumbent Democrat:

Two years ago, the race for this seat was the closest in the state, with Democrat Dennis Moss edging out Republican Danny Stacy by just a couple dozen votes. This year will see a rematch between the two that many expected.

Cherokee County has trended Republican in recent years, and the York County precincts are a mix of Republican and swing rural precincts. Last time, Stacy being edged out in his home county hurt and Moss’ 110 vote lead in Chester County made the difference, but if Stacy can turn Cherokee voters his way and the York GOP’s strong organization can increase his lead in their precincts, the Chester precincts won’t save him this time. The sum total of these factors is a race that should be close, no matter what.

House District 45 (Lancaster and York Counties) – open Republican:

In the latter half of the 20th century, this House seat was a breeding ground for Democratic power brokers – Tom Mangum, a former House Ways and Means Chair, and Jim Hodges, who chaired Judiciary and went on to serve a term as Governor, both held this seat. When Hodges left, the GOP ran a strong race for the seat, and again in ’04. When Hodges’ successor, Eldridge Emory, gave it up in 2006, GOP Rep. Mick Mulvaney pulled off a close win.

Two years later, the seat is open again, and both parties are running hard for it. While the District’s precincts in the Fort Mill area draw in hundreds of new mostly-Republican voters every year, it has a history of close races and the Democrats will fight to gain this seat back, in hopes of regaining control of the Lancaster County delegation. Deborah Long, the Republican candidate, probably has the edge in this race, but we’re expecting the race to be close.

House District 49 (York County) – open Democrat:

After 16 years in the House from York County, Democratic Representative Bessie Moody-Lawrence has decided to call it quits. For this district which is composed nearly equally of strongly Republican white suburban and rural voters and Democratic black urban voters, the race should have favored the Democratic nominee, John King, over Republican Marvin Rogers. But this race has been anything but normal or usual.

In Marvin Rogers, the Republicans have a candidate who has sold himself well to voters throughout the district, and with John King, the Democrats have a candidate with no ties to the district, and a political resume mostly in another county. Republican voters seem sold on Rogers, while King is failing to lock in the Democratic voter base – this means the race is unusually competitive. Also, Moody-Lawrence, popular in the district, has been silent in this race. Rogers has not missed a beat and is campaigning aggressively, not only to ensure his GOP base, but also to crack the Democratic networks that usually decide the outcome of races for this seat, with a fair degree of success.

While the demographics say the Democratic primary should have decided this race, Rogers has made a solid effort to put it in play. Expect the race for this seat to defy traditional political thinking, and don’t be surprised if it’s close.

House District 60 (Florence and Sumter Counties) – incumbent Republican:

The Pee Dee region is clearly Democratic turf. The region’s legislators are almost entirely Democratic, with just four GOP House members and one Senator mostly holding turf based in the few Republican enclaves in the region – four of the five in Florence and Sumter Counties. Two years ago, Phillip Lowe ran for this open seat after Republican Marty Coates had struggled to hold it. A lot of people didn’t give him a chance to prevail, but he stunned everyone with a 60-40 win. This year, the Democrats found a new candidate in Zachary Cooper, and they’re trying again.

With a 40% black population, Lowe’s big win in ’06 was a major surprise and he’ll be hard-pressed to pull off a second big win. For Lowe to win, he has to lock in an overwhelming edge with the district’s Republican and independent voters, enough to offset the expected surge in Democratic voter turnout.

If anyone can do it, we believe Lowe can. But whatever happens, expect it to be close, perhaps the tightest of all House races.

House District 79 (Kershaw and Richland Counties) – open Republican:

This was a close race two years ago, and we think it will be again. Two years ago, the Republican field was divided between GOP incumbent Bill Cotty and a petition candidacy by perennial GOP candidate Michael Letts and driven by SCRG attack mailings. Democrat Anton Gunn made the most of the opportunity and almost won the seat. This year, Cotty decided sixteen years of service was enough, and Gunn is running again, facing GOP nominee David Herndon.

There’s a modest Democratic base in the district which combined with Gunn’s charismatic appeal, will count for a lot. But this time around, the district’s GOP voters are no longer divided by a high-dollar campaign for a far-right petition candidate. This means that while Gunn can wage a strong candidacy, this race should favor the Republican candidate. But this district’s voters are very independent-minded and often vote for candidates as individuals, as evidenced by Democratic Senator Joel Lourie’s close 2004 upset win of the overlapping Senate district. That means Herndon can lead if he is a strong candidate, but if he’s not, Gunn could pull off a close win.

York Democratic House candidate carpetbagging way to State House?

There's nothing wrong with a little ambition when one has earned it. But when one abandons multiple offices mid-term to move up the political ladder and then move to another county when he can't win an election in your hometown ...

You get John King, the Democratic candidate for State House District 49.

John King started out in politics a part of Chester County's controversial King family. Abandoning a City Council seat, he moved up to County Council, only to lose a 2002 challenge to GOP Rep. Greg Delleney.

When that didn't work, this perennial candidate moved to York County, where he lost a close challenge two years ago to the incumbent Rep. from District 49, Bessie Moody-Lawrence. When she opted to retire this year, King was back, making his third bid for the House.

Right now, King has two incompleted terms in office and two losing House races in two different counties to his name. In his second bid for this House seat, several community leaders have openly questioned King's record of serving the urban and rural communities which make up this House seat, which reaches from the south side of Rock Hill to York.

With eroding support among normally-Democratic community leaders in Rock Hill, local political observers aren't ruling out the possibility King could hand this normally-Democratic seat to the thriving York County GOP organization.

State legislative race previews start tomorrow

With just three weeks to go before Election Day, the races for seats in the General Assembly are starting to heat up.

Two years ago, we picked seats we thought would be close, and we came up pretty good. All but one of the seats where the winning percentage was under 55% made our list, and only one race we picked as close came in over that mark. Since we did so good, and got some interesting responses from our readers, we're going to do it again, looking at House and Senate races across the Palmetto State.

This election year offers, at best, marginal change in the makeup of the General Assembly. Many of these seats made our list two years ago, or were Senate races that were close four years ago, mostly due to demographics of the districts. As such numbers don’t change overnight, we’re not surprised to be looking at races in many of the same districts that were close last time around.

Thursday morning, we'll kick the three-part series off with the first batch of House races, so be sure to come back and check it out!

Learn First Aid & CPR this Saturday in Bluffton

If you've always wanted to learn basic First Aid and CPR, and can get down to the Hilton Head area this Saturday ... come on down to the Red Cross office in Bluffton where yours truly will be teaching a class.

We thought about offering free booze ... hookers ... but that stuff is awful expensive. Not only that, but it occurred to us that maybe people should be willing to participate in the course because they care about their community and want to be good citizens.

But seeing as how we've extended invitations to do this class, and even travel the state to offer classes for anyone who can get a handful of participants together, but got almost no response, we're starting to think that our readers are all talk and no action.

For those of you who aren't just all talk, there's room in the class for a few more. The class runs from five to six hours, so come on down and empower yourself to help others and maybe save a life.

York GOP HQ vandalism part of a pattern of Klan-style intimidation

Over the weekend, the vandalism of the York County Republican Party campaign offices has received attention by new media, as well as traditional print media.

We understand intimidation tactics occcurred around the Upstate over the weekend. The same night in Chester, a GOP activist was accosted by several males when leaving the Chester GOP headquarters, who surrounded him and threatened him for opposing Barack Obama. He escaped unharmed.

According to Victory 2008 regional coordinator Joe St. John, the York County Democratic Party chairman was there with an apology before the news media arrived. While some would say that his fast response was coincidental and that he really didn't know these things were happening overnight ... we'll leave such judgments to our readers.

George Orwell once wrote "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" ... well, we're sure if a similar incident of vandalism occured at a predominantly-black church, NAACP office, or Democratic Party office, we'd see a little more outrage - as well as visitors from the Justice Department. But when it's part of a pattern of voter fraud and political intimidation tactics are directed at Republicans, it's no big deal. Such disparity reminds us that we still have a long way to go in building a truly equal, civil and tolerant society.

To whoever was behind these and other incidents, we would encourage them to go ahead and put on the bedsheets and light up a cross, because your words and deeds seem so much like a Jim Crow-era Klucker that it’s hard for us to tell the difference.

At least this way, you'd be more honest about who and what you are.

Beaufort House candidate 'fesses up to school incidents

Weeks after we were the first to tell you, the folks at the Beaufort Gazette were invited to a press conference held by State House District 124 candidate Jim Brown, where they learned him and his wife had been arrested for a series of incidents involving Beaufort County schools.

This is just one of many cases in the blogosphere where you get the news well before the folks at "credible, traditional news media outlets" get around to talking about it.

When we'd initially talked about it, we were well aware of his wife's connections to the issue, but declined (to the frustration of some of our readers) to bring her into our story, because she's not a candidate for public office. We figured that if you want to hear all about someone's family and personal issues (we all have them), there are other websites you can go to.

In considering the claims made by Mr. Brown in the Beaufort Gazette story, we've been left wondering about several questions:

1) Why would she have her husband, who generally handles criminal defense, handle her lawsuit, instead of an attorney who might be more suited to this type of case? Even if it's not a professional conflict of interest to have a family member provide legal counsel, it doesn't feel right to us.

2) Is there a connection between her arrest in May of 2006 and the lawsuit, which was settled out of court in January 2007?

3) Brown is a criminal defense attorney. He could easily have pushed to have this case brought to trial, dropped, or stalled in hopes the case dies on its own. Since he essentially admitted his guilt, then we wonder if he was stalling to avoid an embarrasing conviction which would have hurt his candidacy.

4) What else is out there? Knowing he would do this at a public school isn't very reassuring.

While Mr. Brown may have hoped to have put the issue to rest, all we see is someone who wanted to make an issue of his family, admitted he's a loose cannon, and in doing so, raised even more questions. That's unfortunate, because such a move should normally be intended to bring clarity and resolution to difficult issues, not stir the pot further.

As an aside, we've heard of many cases where sexual harassment lawsuits against governmental entities in South Carolina are often settled because it's cheaper than fighting the charges, with no regard for the personal and professional reputation of the accused, or consideration that settling lawsuits may invite more. For the benefit of the taxpayers, especially given the current financial picture, perhaps this policy needs to be revisited.

More on employee benefits

We know a lot of our readers are transient political career types who don't get benefits, but for those of our readers who do have steady jobs or are looking for one, we try to share a little bit of HR insights for our readers to check out.

The folks at SCBizMag did another article on employee benefits in South Carolina which we thought was a great follow-up to last week's posting on the same subject.

A statewide employee benefits survey reveals premiums for single and family coverage in South Carolina are lower than the national average, but the demand on employees has accelerated ...

... Rosenfeld Einstein surveyed 158 employers throughout the Palmetto State representing $374 million in health care spending.

Preferred provider organization plans account for 64 percent of plans in South Carolina. PPOs average $356 per month for single-coverage premiums and $1,000 for family coverage, compared to national averages of $386 and $1,037, respectively.

High-deductible health plans grew 2% from Rosenfeld Einstein’s last survey in 2006. Average monthly HDHP premiums in South Carolina, at $289 for single coverage and $848 for families, are also below the national average.

Deductibles, however, for PPO plans average $918 for single coverage and $2,425 for family coverage. The national average is $461 and $1,040, respectively.

Interesting data, and another great reason why you should check your company's benefits to see if they're giving you the best deal for your money - and for theirs.

24: A preview of the upcoming season

While I'm presenting on an academic research panel today, I'll throw out something for you 24 fans.

It's looking like Jack Bauer will not disappoint in the upcoming season of "24". Tune in to your local Fox affiliate on the evening of Sunday, November 23.

Stay tuned ...

Leonardo's Notebook puts the present financial "crisis" in perspective

We'd like to ask our readers to stop and take a moment from this crisis of confidence in things monetary in order to share a discussion on Leonardo's Notebook that we believe raised some valid questions about what our priorities are, and just how bad the current situation really is (or is not).

Matt shared comments from both Pope Benedict and an Al-Queda militant who both point out the root of much of the ongoing banking crisis - blind greed and selfish motives - concluding:

I can't help but understand that they're drawing from the same anagogic well, if you'll allow the image, in their criticisms of the financial crisis however differently they express it.

When someone else has made the point quite nicely, it makes little point to pontificate further. Therefore, we'll ask you to hop on over to Matt's blog and join the ongoing discussion.

Post and Courier questions Bidens "alternate universe"

For all Joe Biden's supposed foreign policy expertise, it's a little puzzling how such a seasoned politico has managed to come up with some of the really strange whoppers he's put out there over the years. Yesterday, the Post and Courier nailed two of his latest big ones.

Al Gore may have invented the Internet, but in a recent interview, Joe Biden told us FDR was on television decades before it was invented and years before he was elected to address the nation:

This brings to mind Sen. Biden's remarkable comment to Katie Couric on Sept. 22 describing how President Franklin D. Roosevelt went on national television after the October 1929 stock market crash to explain what needed to be done. Never mind that he wasn't president at the time, and that television wasn't in use until 20 years later.

Joe Biden speaks of the recent days of peace and brotherhood in Lebanon after the liberation of that country by the invasion of US and French forces (it never happened, but if it did and the French were involved, wouldn't they have lost?):

BIDEN: When we kicked — along with France — we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, 'Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don't ... Hezbollah will control it.'

P&C: In the real world, Hezbollah was never "kicked out" of Lebanon, so there was never an opportunity to move any foreign forces — NATO or otherwise — to Lebanon to "fill the vacuum."

... and Palin's critics call HER kooky?

Great waterfalls resource

If you're looking to do some fall getaways in the Palmetto State, you may want to check out Allen Easler's SC Waterfalls website . This guy has done a ton of homework on the subject and this website is a fantastic resource of waterfalls around the South Carolina Upstate. Go check it out!

Mark your calendar

This Wednesday, October 8, the Young Adult Catholics of Columbia will be holding a political event featuring two speakers, one from each party, who will discuss the positions of their parties candidates relative to the concerns and values of Catholics.

One will be our fave GOP strategist, Wes Donehue, and the other will be state Democratic Party third vice-chair Joey Opperman. These two have a history of locking horns, having led their respective parties at USC at the same time, as well as hanging out and drinking. We're sure it will be a pretty neat reunion, and an entertaining show for all of those who attend.

They'll be speaking (and drinking) at Delaney's down in Five Points on Wednesday (October 8) at 6 p.m. If you're in the Midlands, go down and check it out!

Nikki Haley's roll call voting train rocks and rolls

AC/DC is about to rock fans with a great new album (their new CD is out on the 20th), proving to the world they've still got a lot to say. Likewise, Lexington County Representative Nikki Haley is rocking the State House and proving she's just begun to get down with her roll call voting reform effort.

The train of support for her proposal keeps growing. In recent days, Lt. Governor Andre Bauer and Senate Majority Leader joined Senator McConnell in backing Haley's proposal on the Senate side, giving us hope that this effort is going to roll through the Senate quickly.

But it's not just the folks at the top that are starting to get the message. Yesterday, at a meeting of the state Federation of Republican Women, Haley's proposal was endorsed by the group.

The people of this state deserve honesty and transparency from their government, and it's about time their legislators gave them just that. We want to thank Haley for leading the way, as well as the many Republicans, from top to bottom of their party's hierarchy, who are jumping on the train on this important issue.

When this train comes down the tracks, there's only three options - get on board, get out of the way, or get run over.

While we're yakking, here's the video for the song "Rock and Roll Train" off that upcoming AC/DC album:

It's gonna be boring in Columbia

Those of you who've seen Ferris Bueller's Day Off will probably remember Ben Stein's scene: "Bueller ... Bueller ... anyone ... anyone ... ?" Well, this Friday (October 3) will probably seem very much like this in downtown Columbia at the Clarion Hotel.

Yours truly will be discussing the findings of an academic research project on political television advertising at the annual conference of the Carolinas Communication Association.

For those of y'all who haven't got anything better to do on a Friday, I'll be on a 10 a.m. panel in Salon A at the Clarion on Gervais Street. Come on down and say hello.

Clarendon GOP to open headquarters on Sunday

The Clarendon County GOP is opening their campaign headquarters on Sunday:


Be sure to mark your calendar!

GOP's Marvin Rogers surprises in bid for House District 49

What’s unusual about the people in this photo?

Aside from York County GOP House candidate Marvin Rogers, all but one of the others plan to vote for Barack Obama for President … and then cross over to support Rogers in his bid to replace outgoing State Representative Bessie Moody-Lawrence this November.

On Monday, several community leaders from the predominantly-black south side of Rock Hill, the county’s last major bastion of Democratic voting strength, announced their support for Roger’s candidacy. Nearly 100 people turned out at the All Star restaurant in this part of Rock Hill, mostly black and residents of the community, to join these leaders in supporting Rogers.

The speakers praised Rogers’ record of involvement in the community. Rogers has been active in a number of organizations, including Interfaith Hospitality Network and Head Start. Speakers endorsing Rogers included:

Dr. Jennifer Disney, a Political Science professor at Winthrop Univeristy and the President of A Place for Hope, endorsed Rogers and criticized his opponent for only being seen in the Blackmon Road community when he had an opportunity to do a photo-op with John Edwards.

Other attendees included:
  • Kashaka Kikelomo, Director of the First Steps program in Rock Hill County Schools who said “Marvin has boots on the ground. He’s in the community.”
  • Donna Berry, the founder of A Place for Hope.
  • Cedric Thompson, founder of the Reach Back youth program.
  • Candace Thompson, a local real estate banker and cheer leading coach in local schools.
This district is about evenly balanced between Republican voters south and west of Rock Hill and black voters in Rock Hill and York. The county’s robust Republican Party is sure to maximize GOP voter turnout in the district, putting Rogers within striking distance of winning the seat. If Monday’s press conference is any indication, Rogers could be assembling the kind of bipartisan and multicultural coalition he'll need to score a major upset in November.

Stay tuned.

Understanding employee benefits

Working in the HR world, we ran across this interesting article which cautions that many may not understand their employee benefits.

In a lot of organizations, a good benefits package can be worth a lot of money. In some cases, improving benefits, such as 401K and health insurance, can be more valuable than the direct cash benefits of a bigger raise or annual bonus.

A survey by Columbia's own Colonial Life Insurance found it was believed that a lot of employees may not fully understand the benefits their employers offer:

More than 90% of employers who responded said it was important to their business that employees understand and appreciate the value of their benefits. Only 21% of employers think their employees have a good understanding of their benefits. Nearly 5% think their employees know nothing at all about their benefits.

While this survey is limited in that it measured third-party perceptions, as opposed to actually determining the level of awareness held by employees, it still raises interesting questions about well the HR and corporate communication staff is doing at informing employees about their benefits.

As always, we encourage our readers to do their homework and be informed. So take a little time to make sure you know what YOUR employee benefits are. They could make your employment a lot more rewarding.