Judicial candidate manners

Occasionally I check in at SCTweets.com. The other day, I saw a tweet from Rep. Anton Gunn that struck a chord:

Walking from the Blatt Bldg to State House Above Ground to avoid Judge Candidates

For those outsiders who don't know, the underground entrance from the State House garage often becomes a sort-of gauntlet where legislators are pestered by those seeking various offices which are elected by the General Assembly. It seems to be at its worst when there are judicial seats up for election, which brings up a point which has long been a personal pet peeve:

Many judicial candidates have bad manners.

At the annual AGC legislative reception, a number of judicial candidates dropped in on the event uninvited, as they do at many such events whenever there's a pending judicial election. They typically wander through the events, scanning to pick out legislators, and tend to completely ignore those in attendance whose organization has organized and sponsored the event which they are free-loading at.

Having worked with several judicial "campaigns", I know judicial candidates are scrambling to cover 2 or 3 events an evening in pursuit of votes. But it never hurts to show a little respect for those whose hospitality has allowed you the opportunity to seek votes. These events are sponsored by organizations who want their members to learn about how state government works, and a judicial candidate can show a little respect and appreciation by taking a few minutes to talk with them about the state's judiciary.

In this last round, kudos are due to Judge-elect Deborah Durden and former candidates Maite Murphy and Sarah Whetmore, who took plenty of time to talk with non-legislators at these kinds of events. The many others who weren't so nice won't be named - THIS TIME - but be warned that in the future, the Blogland might not be so gracious.

If you can't respect those who are picking up the tab to help you get elected, what kind of respect will you show the Joe Q. Publics of the world should you be seated as a judge?

Just something to think about if you or someone you know is seeking a judgeship.

Obama money flap overlooks the real problem

A day after we agree with The State, we find ourselves puzzled by their call for citizens to pummel Governor Sanford with calls and emails to protest his intentions to turn down federal funds intended to shore up the state budget:

Mr. Sanford could eliminate these problems by simply requesting federal funds. He has until Friday to do so, and we all need to do our best to make that happen:

• Individuals and groups must stop treating Mr. Sanford like the crazy uncle in the attic and let him know they expect him to start acting like a governor. Call, write, e-mail him; rally at the State House, at the Governor’s Mansion, across the state. Demand that he request the federal funds.

• Legislators need to find a face-saving way for him to change his mind, in case he cannot bring himself to admit that his actions are reckless and irresponsible.

We don’t know whether Mr. Sanford cares what the public thinks, but one thing is clear: He will not be persuaded by people who do not make their voices heard.

It's disappointing that The State couldn't have taken a more thoughtful look at the underlying causes of this problem.

It's time for a honest look at the root causes of the state budget shortfall. The revenues which fund the state budget are cyclical: when the economy goes up, revenues grow at a rate often faster than growth, and when the economy slips, revenues tend to sink faster than the rate of contraction. The reckless spending and budget growth of recent years spent billions of dollars of surplus money that could have been banked away for a rainy day.

State budgets under Governor Campbell and Hodges suffered greatly during recessions, and a lot of the legislative players around now were around then. They should not be surprised at the current turn of events, nor should they be attempting to pin all the blame on Sanford. While it's important to find a resolution to the current situation, it is also time for all concerned to make a solid effort to rein in spending growth and plan ahead for future downturns. Anything less is inexcusable.

Those who are concerned about the current budget crisis, whether they support or oppose Sanford's actions, should demand that steps be taken to follow a more fiscally responsible course in the future, and that everyone in the legislative process work together to chart that course.

DSS failures show RINO Sanford hypocrisy

Children have died in homes where parents were abusing drugs because the agency that is supposed to protect the state’s most vulnerable residents failed them, outraged child-safety advocates say.

At least five children have died and others are in danger unless the Department of Social Services removes children more quickly from homes where parents have drug abuse problems, according to the state’s Child Fatalities Review Committee. Caseworkers also must assure homes are safe before returning children to them, the committee said.

DSS has not acted on years of committee recommendations to change what the panel views as drug tolerance by agency leaders and decisions by caseworkers that put more children at risk.

Sanford talks a big game about the importance of increased gubernatoral oversight of state government, but his record in addressing the problems at SC DSS seem to suggest giving him increased powers would be a direct threat to the lives of South Carolinians. Unfortunately, it's not just DSS that is a problem. Corrections has long struggled with low pay and short staffing, and the Highway Patrol is not in much better shape.

While all three agencies play significant roles in protecting South Carolinians and should be the first concern of any Governor, Governor Sanford seems indifferent about them. Is he that indifferent to the safety and well-being of the people of South Carolina?

The pursuit of politics over competent management is more evidence that Sanford is a RINO of the highest degree - one who seeks to use politics to advance his personal ambitions. Unlike true conservatives who embrace the belief in the value of personal responsibility, RINO Sanford takes no responsibility for his actions, or the lack thereof, with regard to state government while he uses the GOP as a set of stepping stones. Instead, he goes after other parts of state government with a degree of hypocrisy seldom seen since the televangelists of the 80s.

Republicans should be appalled and demand that RINO Sanford clean up his own governmental house before he seeks to tackle the long-overdue mission of reforming the rest of state government.

If Sanford wants to run for President, he may want to stop throwing stones while standing in a glass house.

Kirk and Spock - Double barrelled torment

It's Shaturday again ... and we think it's not enough to give you Shatner. We're gonna give you him AND Leonard Nimoy singing.

If you can't take it anymore, blame Mike Reino. He made us do it.

Blogland reader appreciation contest - last chance to enter!

Ok everyone - the big Blogland reader appreciation contest is wrapping up. Those who have the best-written thoughts about what they think about the Blogland - good OR bad - can win free hotel rooms or have Anthrax (CDs) mailed to their homes.

Click HERE to find out how YOU can enter.

Millwood challengers lining up early?

Fins to the left ... fins to the right ... it works great if you're a Parrothead, but if your name is Joey Millwood, it might be bad news indeed.

Just months after taking office, the fins of sharks appear to be to the left, right, and all around Millwood. Since his surprise win over House Education and Public Works Chair Bob Walker in last year's GOP primary, he has had a tough time convincing fellow Republicans to support him. In the fall, disgruntled Walker supporters fielded a write-in challenge, while others supported his Democratic opponent. Playing a key role in the now-rebuffed coup of the Spartanburg County delegation helped further drive a wedge between him and those who didn't support him last year.

According to those we've spoken with, two names have already surfaced as potential challengers to Millwood: former Landrum Mayor Doug Brannon and Rosemary Byerly, a long-time GOP activist and former Spartanburg GOP Chair. Those we've talked with seem to believe either candidate would make a credible opponent. Even more threatening for Millwood's re-election prospects is that it was also believed that these two would work together, possibly agreeing to back a single candidate for the seat.

With these two out there already, it's hard to imagine there won't be more people looking at the race. Especially since Millwood's actions continue to give credence to the claims of his detractors.

While there are plenty of legislators who have arrived in Columbia to an unfriendly welcome, often due to upsetting well-liked legislators, it is unusual to see in-district opposition coming together so quickly. This suggests that Millwood faces a difficult, and possibily short, tenure in the House - and that he is becoming his own worst enemy.

LaDonna Ryggs - A Republican Leader for Spartanburg County

The candidacy of current Spartanburg County GOP Chair Rick Beltram has opened speculation as to who will succeed him. Long-time Republican activist and current State Executive Committee member LaDonna Ryggs - a big Blogland fan - has announced her intent to seek this office.

LaDonna Ryggs is the kind of committed Republican worker who has earned an opportunity to serve in this office, and the Blogland endorses her candidacy.

While the rules allow Rick Beltram, the current SpGOP Chair, to seek re-election, as well as run for the state GOP Chairmanship, we believe his candidacy for state Chair should be his sole responsibility. Electing LaDonna Ryggs would ensure a smooth succession with a well-qualified candidate - and allow Beltram to focus his full energies on his state chairman's bid.

Her extensive record of service to Republicans and party organizations around the state is one of the most exemplary we've ever seen. She has campaigned tirelessly around the state for years and helped build the state Federation of Republican Women into a strong network we affectionately refer to as "The South Carolina Mafia". Under her leadership, this organization has worked to seat its own in various appointed and elected offices around the state, as well as sending many to the recent national convention.

LaDonna's proven leadership abilities offer great opportunities for Spartanburg County Republicans, which is why she is best-suited to succeed Rick Beltram. Spartanburg Republicans should elect her to this post.
... however, it is important to note this is not intended to reflect upon Beltram's state candidacy as the Blogland intends to offer no endorsement in this race. Blogland readers are urged to get off their duffs and attend the many events at which state chair candidates, both collectively and individually, are present and get the information necessary to make up their own minds.

Blogland contest - Hurry up ... enter and WIN!

Recently, we kicked off a reader participation contest here in the Blogland, when we announced:

Earl Capps wants to BUY YOUR VOTE.

That's why he's offering two free nights of hotel lodging - anywhere in the US of A - to the individual who can give the best answer as to why they love or hate the Blogland. Worthy runners-up will be eligible to receive free rooms or have Anthrax (CDs) mailed directly to their homes.

To be eligible for this contest, all entries must be emailed to earl@earlcapps.org so he'll know who sent them. Once received, all entries will be posted on the blog for our readers to see.

Inside Interview: Rep. Murrell Smith

Hailing from Sumter, State Rep. Murrell Smith has been in the House since 2000. Raised in the Pee Dee region, Smith is an attorney, owns a couple of other businesses - a Wild Wing Cafe and a medical supply company - and is active in a number of local boards and community organizations as well.

This is one seriously busy guy, so we appeciate his taking us up on our invitation to do an Inside Interview. Let's see what he has to say for himself:

1) Tell us how you got into politics.

I have always been interested in politics. Building on this interest is the opportunity I had to get to know Ms. Constance Antonson while at Wofford College. I housesat during the summers for Ms. Antonson and during this period her passion for conservative politics spread to me. She was a professor of Humanities at Wofford and became actively involved in the Republican Party from Goldwater forward. She helped with the George Bush campaign in 1988 while I was housesitting, was elected National republican Woman of the Year in the early ‘70s, and helped lead the charge at the 1976 Republican Convention, which almost resulted in Reagan being nominated over Gerald Ford. She inspired me to get involved in politics through her actions. Through her, I started working on state level campaigns while in college. She also sent me to the Young Americans Foundation Conservative Orientation Seminar in Valley Forge for ten days one summer. I spent those ten days listening and learning from conservative speakers from throughout the country. Next, fast forward to 1994 when I worked on Jeff Young’s Campaign for House. Jeff approached me in 2000 to tell me the incumbent for my house district was not running again, Jeff asked me to run. I ran and won my seat.

2) What issues do you see as priorities for yourself and your district this year?

Obviously the economy, unemployment, reduction in spending. From a larger perspective, I want to look at the stimulus package and try to avoid the traps it may be creating for our future. These traps would be the future obligations that will continue beyond the allocated stimulus money.

  • Crime- I want to look into meaningful reform to the state criminal justice system and not into those “quick political” fixes. I have been appointed vice chairman of the Criminal Sentencing Task Force, and its goal is to do a top to bottom review of the criminal justice system. This is important not only to the state but also to Sumter because of its increasing crime rates.
  • On the local level, the Sumter Delegation consolidated the two Sumter County school districts into one last year. I hope this brings efficiency, accountability, and increased opportunities to students in Sumter County. A last stand of one of the school districts against consolidation was an attempt to construct a $3.5 million administrative building for a district that will only be in existence two more years. I, with the rest of the delegation, worked hard to prevent the construction of the building. Last week, a committee created and appointed by the delegation voted against the construction of the building. This signifies a true victory for the taxpayers of Sumter County. It is my hope that the laying to rest of the building will allow the committee’s and the delegation’s focus to shift to that of the success of the consolidated school district.

3) What issues would you like to see receive greater attention?

  • Zero Base Budgeting - until we embrace this concept we are not able to produce any meaningful budget reform in South Carolina.
  • Restructuring - Governor Sanford has brought this issue to attention, and I wish that that the Legislature would take a more proactive approach to moving towards this reform. Restructuring would lead to more efficiency and accountability in government. It would also help bring the state government into the 21st century.
  • Department of Corrections - I think more attention needs to be brought to the funding and overcrowding of the SCDC. Jon Ozmint is currently running one of the most efficient corrections systems in the nation and we continually ask him to do more with less. We continue to approve and allow them to run deficits due to the incarceration of more people while not providing the department with adequate funds for the prisons. SCDC needs to be fully funded or we need to look into alternative criminal sentencing options. We need to continue to incarcerate violent offenders but need to look into alternatives for nonviolent offenders such as drug courts, mental health courts and other alternative sentencing options. These alternatives can provide a form of rehabilitation and a second chance at life for nonviolent offenders. If they fail to rehabilitate through these mechanisms, however, then they must return to prison.

4) You live in a region which is well-known for BBQ. Got any recommendations for us?

McCabe’s BBQ in Clarendon County- hands down. I do represent a portion of Clarendon County so I am still on home turf here. Next, we (Sumter) have a small BBQ place run outside of a man’s home, Maple’s BBQ. It is truly one of the best-kept BBQ secrets in Sumter County. I also have a liking for Ward’s hash- also found in Sumter. When I venture outside of Sumter or Clarendon County, I cannot pass up a trip to Brown’s BBQ in Kingstree.

5) What are your thoughts about new media, such as bloggers?

Bloggers have created an added dimension to news sources across not only South Carolina but also the nation, and have brought much transparency to state politics, which is always good for the system. It has broadened the scope of news media, as a whole, from the state house in ways that are good, bad, and ugly. It has created a heightened scrutiny for those of us who serve. I always say, “Sunshine is the best disinfectant.” I believe that blogs have brought a lot of sunshine to the state house, which can only be positive for the state.

6) What are you looking most forward to this session?

Surprisingly, this is not a political answer. While I am excited about all events and issues going on at the Statehouse this Session, the event I am looking most forward to, first and foremost, is the birth of my first child, a little girl, at the end of April!

Callanan, Clark, and Schuster - Integrity, Hard Work, and Positive Leadership for the Berkeley GOP

In recent years, Berkeley County GOP politics has become nasty, deceptive and outright abusive. Much of it has been at the hands of the current leadership who has engaged in campaigns of character assasination and intimidation while avoiding conducting audit of their accounts. The current Chair had a recent DUI arrest, and a recent Chair resigned following reports of missing funds and news of over two dozen personal bad check warrants.

Some of the current Chair's shameless tactics and stunts have been well covered in the Blogland.

It is important to remember that the GOP congressional majority was toppled largely because voters got sick of the sleaze and underhandedness. Likewise, the current leadership in Berkeley County threatens to hand opportunities to Democrats. Republicans who want a party that can truly lead by example would be wise to elect the following three candidates at their county convention:

Tim Callanan, Chair: This County Council member from Daniel Island has been a proven fiscal conservative on Council and a fresh voice of sanity and respect in local politics. His fresh perspective will make him an excellent Chair.

Cindy Clark, 1st Vice-Chair: Cindy has been a Republican leader from the trenches. She's got a rock-solid work ethic and has been fair to all. She can build teams and do the late work necessary to help win elections.

Charles Schuster, 2nd Vice-Chair: Charles has been a loyal Republican for decades and has led the county's GOP Breakfast club ably and ethically. After becoming the target of false character attacks and deception by the current Chair, electing him would help thank him for what he's done, as well as what he's endured.

These three are well-known for being principled, hard-working, and thoughtful, while staying above the fray of the nasty infighting of Berkeley County politics. As such, they are well-positioned to move the Berkeley County GOP beyond the current quagmire of factional feuding. It is refreshing to see them having the willingness to chart a new course, and it's a direction which has been long overdue.

Blogland readers in Berkeley County who want change, reform, and leadership with integrity need to vote for these three candidates.

Justice League shake-up putting Robin in spotlight

In Berkeley County, where many things aren't what they seem, reports are that Robin, the Boy Wonder of Justice, has been sighted working alongside Wonder Woman in tackling the world of crime. According to one source:

We're not sure why Robin isn't working for Batman these days, but we're certainly glad he's working with Wonder Woman. We hear great things about how they're getting along.

- Superman

Other sources reported a Blogland staffer was recently seen leaving the back of the Dorchester County courthouse and driving away at a high rate of speed. It was uncertain if he was being pursued by Wonder Woman and Robin, or if that was his normal manner of driving.

Wonder Woman and Robin were later sighted in a Berkeley County BBQ restaurant, having cornered the staffer. Reportedly he was begging for mercy, promising never to do whatever he was doing again.

But we caution you these reports have yet to be confirmed. When contacted for comments by phone, the staffer whispered a short and panicked message:

I used to worry enough about Wonder Woman, but that Robin dude ... no way man, I'm not saying a thing until I speak with my lawyer.

Slow down on I-26

This excellent story which aired on Channel 4 news Tuesday night about my employer's I-26 project talks about the safety concerns:

Some recent data:
  • Four company vehicles have been rear-ended in the work zone since work began in August. Three with employees in them at the time.
  • A random sampling of traffic citations shows motorists cited when the work zone speed limit is reduced to 45 m.p.h. for night work showed an average speed of 74 m.p.h.
  • Since January, there have been seven critical loss-of-control incidents where motorists were going so fast they either hit concrete barrier wall or ran off the road entirely
  • In a recent two week period, the Highway Patrol issued over 300 tickets during night work.
The state troopers are limited in their ability to help us due to short staffing and funding. Requirements that all ticket monies go to the state's general fund were well-intentioned, aimed at preventing the classic "speed trap towns", but those towns found a loophole to allow them to keep ticket money. If this law was changed, then fines collected from dangerous drivers could pay for extra trooper coverage, instead of expecting taxpayers to pick up the tab.

Until then, our employees will continue to dodge cars and objects being thrown at them with little help. At least until someone gets killed.

Come talk to college students at CofC

Yours truly is busy teaching some evenings at the College of Charleston. This semester and in the fall, I'll be teaching Public Speaking courses, and for the Spring '10 semester, I'm working on developing a course in politics and new media.

An important part of the teaching experience is to get beyond the theory of things and present real-world examples and the insights of those who actually do things. To help do this, I've extended an invitiation to those who have professional insights to come talk with my classes and share some relevant thoughts.

This semester, a regional sales manager for Honda and a circuit court judge have graciously agreed to talk with my students. They've shared insights about how to be a good speaker and the importance of developing one's speaking skills, as well as some valuable career advice.

While it's not as prestigious as talking to the way cool bunch at Dutch Fork High School, it's still a great chance to share some real-world experience to help give these students a little more enriching experience. If you're interested in coming to talk to my classes, drop me an email and let me know. So long as you keep your discussion germane to the class, I'd greatly appreciate having the help!

The Blogland will not comment as to if this video represents actual conditions in my class:

What kind of combat weaponry are you?

The first time, the test called yours truly an AK-47. This time, it's an M-134. If you haven't taken it before, give it a try:

M-134 "Mini-Gun"

A true brute, you have a "presence" every where you go. You can take on any opponent with little effort, your dependable and your reputation does the talking.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz

The Capps GOP Agenda? Lock and load!

Obama's health-care plan for America's veterans?

As part of his agenda for "change", the American Legion website reports on Barack Obama's health care plans for America's veterans:

The leader of the nation’s largest veterans organization says he is “deeply disappointed and concerned” after a meeting with President Obama today to discuss a proposal to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries. The Obama administration recently revealed a plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs in such cases.

“It became apparent during our discussion today that the President intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan,” said Commander David K. Rehbein of The American Legion. “He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it. ... This reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate ‘… to care for him who shall have borne the battle…’ given that the United States government sent members of the armed forces into harm’s way, and not private insurance companies.

Moye Graham: A Republican Leader for Clarendon County

Moye Graham is well-known to Blogland regulars, but he's also a well-recognized face in Clarendon County politics. A native of the area, he's been involved with the local Republican Party for many years. Last year, the Blogland endorsed him in his successful bid for a 6th District delegate slot for that year's GOP national convention.

This year, Moye Graham is seeking the chairmanship of the Clarendon County Republican Party. We believe he is the right candidate for the job and endorse his candidacy.

Tides of fortune for Clarendon County Republicans are starting to move in a positive direction. Several statewide GOP candidates have broken the 40% mark in recent years, as retirees have begun moving into developments along Lake Marion, combining their votes with the county's rural conservative voters. In the 2006 elections, most GOP statewide candidates made stops in Clarendon County, many of them more than once, signalling this area could be moving into the contested column.

Given the right kind of leadership, Clarendon County Republicans could help usher in a long-overdue era of competitiveness in a county where most races for public office are uncontested in both the June primaries and November elections. Moye Graham's Clarendon roots and political experience suggest he could be a smart leader who is able to work effectively to organize and lead the local party. Just as importantly, his relationships with Republicans beyond Clarendon County could help bring the resources and talent needed to help Clarendon Republicans become relevant in local politics.

We've made a lot of friends in Clarendon County, and it's become our favorite rural community for a lot of reasons. Many of those are active in the local Republican Party, and we know they tune into the Blogland regularly. We would encourage them to give Moye Graham a well-deserved opportunity to lead their party.

Millwood eats crow for dinner

Recently, we warned of the potential risks of Joey Millwood playing in the grownup pool of Spartanburg politics:

Millwood, a political novice, may have been right, but we think a power play where one-third of the members use the rules to run over the other two-thirds is going to leave a sour taste in some people's mouths. We're sure those who got railroaded are - in the best Spartanburg political tradition - already plotting payback.

Payback, while it is often petty, is a bitch. Mr. Millwood will probably find it delivered when he leasts expects it. Until that time comes, we hope Representative Millwood enjoys his chairmanship and his newly-minted RINO status. He's worked hard to earn them both.

Well, looks like we might have seen the issue differently than the legal experts and that the definition of a quorum as a majority of weighted votes was invalid. Given this opinion that was issued by the state Attorney General's office, he may be getting his comeuppance sooner than one would expect.

The delegation has been split since its first meeting in November. The disagreement revolves around the election of officers, and each side used a different interpretation of the same court case to support their argument.

McMaster said in his opinion that he “cannot conclude that (the case) has set aside the method of determination of a quorum recognized by the common law and codified in the Freedom of Information Act.”

Perhaps Mr. Millwood should try working with people instead of shoving his political agenda upon them. If not, we figure his tenure as the supposed Chair of the Spartanburg delegation may be rather short.

Rumored SCGOP candidate seeking to buy votes?

Reports have surfaced that blogger Earl Capps is offering to pay off potential supporters if he decides to seek the SCGOP Chairmanship.

Yes, we said Earl Capps wants to BUY YOUR VOTE.

That's why he's offering two free nights of hotel lodging - anywhere in the US of A - to the individual who can give the best answer as to why they love or hate the Blogland.

Worthy runners-up will be eligible to receive free rooms or have Anthrax (CDs) mailed directly to their homes.

To be eligible for this contest, all entries must be emailed to earl@earlcapps.org so he'll know who sent them. Once received, all entries will be posted on the blog for our readers to see.

Remember, you can't be a loser unless you play, and if you don't play, you're a loser already!

Shatner sings to whales

It's Shaturday, and we're going downhill fast folks.

Today, Shatner isn't just signing, but he's singing to whales. Where is Greenpeace or PETA when you need them?!?

Race for House District 48 starts early

With the cat out of the bag about Representative Carl Gullick's plans to move to Kentucky, speculation swirls about who will run to fill his seat in a special election which will likely take place this summer or fall.

Our sources have told us that Kyle Boyd, who challenged Gullick last year, has decided not to run for the seat.

Greg Rogers, a Republican from Fort Mill, has begun planning a candidacy for the seat, reportedly with the assistance of Quinn and Associates. According to a number of people we've talked with, Rogers achieved a certain degree of notoriety among York County Republicans for planning a beer bash for the county's Young Republicans chapter. While it turned out later that Rogers' event wasn't sanctioned by the county YR's, the county GOP was left to pick up the tab for the event. One longtime York County Republican activist who discussed this with us referred to him as "Bar Tab Rogers".

Rogers also sided with failed efforts to target a couple of GOP County Council members for primary ousters. Several Republicans we've talked to indicated these issues have hurt his ability to attract support.

Some of that hostility may be driving support to Fort Mill school board member Michael Johnson. Johnson lost a GOP primary bid for the seat in 2004, when former Rep. Becky Richardson retired from the seat, but later won the school board seat. This time around, Johnson is off to a strong start with the support of many in the GOP establishment, including the open support of both Gullick and Kyle Boyd.

After Richardson took the seat for the GOP in 1990, it took the Democrats until 2006 to field even a token candidate for the seat. Democratic prospects for this seat are slim to none, and no reports have surfaced of Democratic plans to contest the seat, so the GOP race is the one to watch for control of this seat.

As Gullick's plans to vacate the seat come together, we expect the plans of potential candidates will become more clear. Stay tuned.

Lowcountry GOP Breakfast Club - This Saturday in Summerville

WHEN: Saturday, March 14th at 9:00 a.m.
WHERE: Kelly’s BBQ restaurant, US 78, Summervile
CONTACT: Ron Turner, Chairman (843) 814-1805 or email

The March meeting, to be held next Saturday (March 14) at 9am, at Kelly’s BBQ on US 78 in Ladson, will feature Dean Allen of ROAR (Restore our American Republic). Allen will discuss the current state of the Republican Party and challenge attendees to hold the GOP accountable for being true to its conservative principles.

For the last seven years, this organization has featured monthly meetings every second Saturday which have featured candidates, policy experts and grass-roots Republican party activists who have promoted candidacies and discussed current issues. Combined with an “open forum” question-and-answer session, the general public has been able to learn about important issues and express their concerns on these issues, as well as grill candidates for public office.

Past speakers have included each of the current GOP statewide office holders, including Governor Sanford, Congressman Henry Brown, Senator Jim DeMint, as well as many regional legislators and representatives from grassroots and policy advocacy organizations such as Gun Owners of America, Fair Tax, and the South Carolina Policy Council.

Breakfast is served for $6.50 per attendee, and the general public is cordially invited to attend, regardless of political affiliation.

South Carolina DSS cannot find Alabama

SC DSS's child support system continues to amaze with its ineptitude. According to the friendly folks at the Parents Rights Now blog:

According to the South Carolina DSS Abandoned Property List, ALABAMA CHILD SUP, whose last known address is PO BOX 244015, MONTGOMERY, AL 36124, has failed to claim some money that South Carolina collected on its behalf. So Alabama, if you are reading this, give South Carolina a call; the State of South Carolina has some money for you. And if you are holding money that belongs to South Carolina, we are certain that South Carolina could use it.

If it is true that the State of South Carolina is holding, and probably drawing interest on, money that belongs to the State of Alabama because it does not have a “current address” for the State of Alabama Child Support Division, then what hope do non-institutional obligees have regarding receipt of their money?

If you know the State of Alabama, or know someone who does, please give South Carolina DSS a call. They could use the help.

Prosecution and Defense attorneys’ debt forgiveness program - a smart investment

Wilson said she not only may lose prosecutors who specialize in cases involving driving under the influence and criminal domestic violence, but she also may have a hard time avoiding laying off some of the 10 staffers who work with victims of crime in Berkeley and Charleston counties.

"That's an area that's near and dear to all of us because it directly affects people who already have been wronged," Wilson said. "For us to not be able to give them the quality of service that we have in the past would be, in my view, victimizing them again."

If they think that's bad, there's a small, low-cost program that, if eliminated, may ensure that some of those prosecutors won't be there long enough to get downsized. Two years ago, a program, which was one of 228 to survive the Governor's veto pen, put up $225,000 to forgive student loan debt for those who work either in solictors or public defenders offices.

This program would pay up to $40,000, at up to $5,000 a year, in student loans for those attorneys who have been employed for at least three continuous years in one of five offices:

  • S.C. Attorney General's Office
  • S.C. Commission on Prosecution Coordination
  • S.C. Commission on Indigent Defense
  • Any Circuit Solicitor's Office
  • Any County or Circuit Public Defender's Office
In a Blogland interview, Kevin Brackett, the 16th Circuit Solicitor, pointed out "the amount spent in a year was less than some death penalty trials cost". He was concerned that many law school graduates, facing hundreds of dollars a month in student loan payments, would instead opt to go into private practice. To help illustrate the point, he discussed his early days in the 16th Circuit Solicitor's Office, right after graduation, where he had to live in a low-rent apartment in Rock Hill, with a roommate, to be able to afford repaying his debt on an entry-level prosecutor's salary.

Attorney General Henry McMaster defended the program, as a

Wonderful idea to offer an incentive for those who choose to serve and continue serving our state as criminal prosecutors or public defenders. It's my hope the program will flourish, even in these trying economic times.

This is a program which the Legislature should consider funding. It's a small investment that will go a long way to keep our courts rolling.

Beaver Management?

According to Carolina Politics Online, John McCain is fighting beaver management efforts in North Carolina:

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has been getting some blowback from criticizing the use of $650,000 in Federal tax dollars to pay for beaver management in Mississippi and North Carolina and it has beaver seekers in an uproar, including Congressman David Price (D-NC-4).

We're wondering if Bryan Cox or Ashley Landess at the Policy Council have a position on this kind of pork spending.

Podcasting anyone?

When I got my Zune player, I started out with loading up over 6000 songs from hundreds of CDs in my personal collection. Then I got into podcasting, and I'm having a ball with it.

Since I drive quite a bit to jobsites and here and there and elsewhere, I've found they're a good way to feed myself more information.

What podcasts am I listening to on a regular basis?

... so as for the rest of you in the great big Blogworld, what do YOU listen to?

Jeff Sewell - not part of the Floyd campaign?

Since it's inception, the Karen Floyd candidacy for SC GOP Chair seems to have been chased by someone claiming to be part of it's campaign - the current owner of SCHotlie, Jeff Sewell.

The folks over at FITSNews, where Sewell won their readers' choice contest for "Slow Zebra", called Sewell out for claiming that he was managing Floyd's campaign:

Jeffrey Sewell - editor of the website SC Hotline - has informed dozens of GOP activists that he is “managing” Floyd’s bid, which has received extensive promotional consideration from his website.

According to our sources, Sewell is telling Republican activists that his efforts will be “supported” by Washington-based pollster Jon Lerner and Atlanta-based consultant Robert Cahaly, and that Floyd will mount an “aggressive” bid that may include negative ads against her principal opponent, Columbia Attorney Kevin Hall.

Sewell made the same claim to yours truly a few weeks ago in a phone conversation, while he was trying to cajole and hustle me into dumping the event agenda for a GOP breakfast club that I had spent weeks organizing, wanting me to pull the plug on a half dozen other speakers who had committed a long time in advance. He started out with "come on, you've gotta work with me" ... and leading up to a thinly veiled threat of "you know she's going to win, and you want to be on the winning team ... ".

Those who know me know threats don't work on me. But judging from a number of comments he posted on the FITSNews site, he loves to make them.

It is hard to believe it was coincidence that the Blogland yanked from the listing of SCHotlie about 12 hours later. I started getting calls about it in a matter of hours (I'm so grateful for my loyal readers!). While it's his site and his right to do so, it seems a pretty short-sighted thing to do when they want to curry favor.

A few days later, he sent an email asking to "bury the hatchet". I wasn't interested in the offer.

In a phone conference a couple of days later between Karen Floyd, Robert Cahaly, and myself, several points were made clear:

1) Jeff Sewell was not running her campaign, nor was he part of the campaign organization,
2) They did not sanction him attemping to strong-arm my group's event, and
3) They felt badly that he had gone rogue on her behalf.

Since they went out of their way to address the matter, it seemed only fair to accept their apologies as legitimate and take them at their word.

It would seem as if the numerous displays of biased commentary in headlines praising Floyd and bashing Hall on SCHotlie are Sewell's attempt to stake a claim with the Floyd camp, however uninvited and unwelcome such efforts may be. It certainly raises concerns about what Sewell's next moves to influence this race entail.

We can understand one wanting to be part of something, but sometimes one can't have it all, and it may even be better to stay neutral, as the Blogland has done thus far in this race. But apparently Sewell sees it differently. It's unfortunate that he has chosen to use his abilities - and SCHotline - to run sloppy attack tactics which only help muddy the waters and further divide a party which will face one of its toughest electoral challenges in the 2010 election cycle.

Human scum on the web

For a little weekend socio-cultural commentary, we would like to share with our readers the MySpace page of one Marvin Allen Rutledge of North Charleston.

Mr. Rutledge and two others are in Charleston County Jail this weekend, having murdered Orlando Benitez, shooting him in front of his five-year old daughter while he was playing with her, and then going through his pockets while Benitez he was dying, his daughter watching the entire thing.

We feel comfortable in asserting this sack of crap is the killer, since he reportedly gave a statement admitting to the robbery and murder.

One of the other two had Benitez' wallet and the third one was on "high supervision" probation after being convicted of armed robbery back in November. We suspect "high supervision" means he's free to get high and commit more violent crimes, as long as he checks in with his probation officer every few weeks.

According to his MySpace page, "Little Marvlo" was busy "Get'n Ryte" the last time he updated his website. Right now, we're sure he's more concerned about Get'n Arraigned or maybe tonight Get'n Raped.

His life may have been about "Money", according to his MySpace page, but someone who lives in a trailer park and had to commit murder to get some probably wasn't very good at getting any.

What's even more pathetic is the 17-year old girl who helped carry on Mr. Rutledge's genes, as identified by her MySpace page:



We're not sure what she's saying, but the only "shit" we see in this whole sad story is Mr. Rutledge. Well maybe her taste in men - or rather boys - is about the same. Some of the commentary in her website is among the most ignorant and illiterate we've ever seen - proof that computers have become so user-friendly that even someone with a third-grade mentality can figure out how to use them.

Somehow, it's not going to surprise us if this is another example of our tax dollars at work.

Inside Interview: Rep. Boyd Brown

From lakefront recreation to lush forests and rolling fields, history-laden State House District 41 encompasses a lot of wonderful country in Chester and Fairfield Counties. There are a lot of nice drives through there - River Road along Lake Wateree, US 321 from Chester to Winnsboro, or SC 34 right across the district - that we'd recommend if you've got free time on a weekend.

Winnsboro was one of the state's first inland towns. General Cornwallis' army wintered there, getting their tails handed to them at Cowpens and Kings' Mountain during that time. Then you have Ridgeway, perhaps the prettiest town in the South. If you miss Mayberry, just head up I-77 to that little town and visit their antique stores, tea room, worlds smallest police station and magnificent homes.

The Brown Family has a long history in Fairfield County, originally hailing from that small town of Ridgeway. Boyd Brown started the Brown's public service file in 1936 when he was elected to the SC House, where he went on to serve as Chairman of the Labor and Commerce industry. When he died at an early age, his son, Walter Brown, took his place before becoming Sinking Fund director (now Budget and Control Board) under Governor Hollings. He went on to serve South Carolina in various positions, before becoming "the state's most influential lobbyist" according to The State newspaper at the time of his death in 1998. His two sons became public servants, one serving as Family Court judge, the other is one of South Carolina's longest serving County Councilmen.

Fairfield County's second Boyd Brown is in his first term in the House, representing District 41 in his great-grandfather and grandfather's old seat. He won Creighton Coleman's old seat with 81% of the vote when Coleman moved up to the Senate. We met him recently at the Carolinas AGC event, and he took us up on the opportunity to be the first House Democrat that we've Inside Interviewed:

At the age of 22, you're the youngest member of the House. How well have you fit in with your fellow legislators? How might this be a different experience at your age than for someone older?

Well, my first day on the job, Thad Viers kept eyeballing me. He finally walked over and said "weren't you a page?" (I was for Creighton in 2005 and Senator Short in 2007) For the first couple of weeks, that was a common misconception, but over time it's beginning to improve. I had to pull out my ID to prove I was a member last week, and another member asked me to make some copies. I don't mind any of this... I'm just a Freshman.

As far as differing experiences for me than someone older, I see where I want to change the direction of this state, where some of the older crowd wants to either a)maintain the status quo, or b)they see this as a cap on their career. Personally, I think Bakari and I are in a neat position of representing not only our constituents, but our generation as well.

You campaigned for Tommy Moore for Governor and interned with Congressman John Spratt - how did these experiences help shape your own political plans?

I've always wanted to be a public servant, and it's kind of come naturally. Working for those two individuals were experiences I'll never forget. They both are known coalition builders who reach across party lines, and as I go forward in my career I hope I can model myself after Chairman Spratt and Tommy. As far as shaping my career, seeing parts of this state where government has failed our citizens really helped kick start my political career. I always wanted to go into politics, but after seeing shoeless children at a cold parade in Burnettown while working for Tommy Moore, I realized it was time for some new blood in Columbia. The next year, Senator Short announced her retirement, Creighton told me he was going to run for that vacancy, so I threw my hat in the ring about a year out... and it paid off.

What are some things that are important for you and your district?

Rural infrastructure, public education, the US Supreme Court case versus North Carolina over water rights... However, the most important issue facing my community and this state are jobs. South Carolina has the 3rd highest unemployment rate in the country, heading to 2nd, and we're talking about wait periods for rape victims to have abortions and fusion voting. Are you kidding me?!? I bet 90% of this state can't even tell you what fusion voting is, and the other ten percent is unemployed. So let's keep our eye on the ball and talk about job development and put the tools in place to recruit new industry.

SCGOP Chair candidate linked to other candidate?

As many Blogland readers recall, past tensions between Earl Capps, blogger and potential SCGOP Chair candidate, and Rick Beltram, current Spartanburg GOP Chair and SCGOP Chair candidate, were reportedly rather thick. So much that when he visited the Spartanburg GOP Memorial Day picnic last year, several there were eyeing both of them as if expecting fireworks.

However, recent revelations suggest there may be a different side to this story. This picture, released by Clarendon County GOP Vice-Chair Moye Graham from the 2008 convention, shows the two enjoying a few minutes of conversation and smiling for the camera:

Did their past feuding really serve as a subterfuge which masked a shadowy conspiracy between the two? Is Capps on the take to support Beltram? Enquiring minds deserve to know the real truth.

Self-defense options

For what it's worth, we'd recommend option #2

Rep. James Smith's Afghan photo album

James Smith is a Columbia attorney and Democratic State Representative, but he's also a pretty brave guy in our book. Those who doubt the guy has a heart of gold and backbone of steel should go look at his photo album and journal of his trip to Afghanistan, where Captain James Smith of the South Carolina Army National Guard recently did a tour of duty:


Thanks to Mark Knoop at SC Statehouse Blogs for the lead!

Gingrich: "I don’t actually build oppositions"

He's gone ... and now Newt Gingrich is back in the the game, riding high in the saddle in the post-Bush era for the GOP. A story by Matt Bai of the New York Times looks at how Gingrich's step away from the power of being Speaker of the House allowed himself to find a new role as an intellectual leader of a party which has lost its way, as well as the majority status which he had done much to build.

Gingrich does much to discuss the need for Republicans to run on ideas, navigating carefully between engagement with President Obama and defining a clear course of their own. The architect of the Contract with American, Newt describes his mission as one of promoting ideas and constructive agendas, not guiding an angry opposition party:

I don’t actually build oppositions. I build the next governing majority. I have no interest in being an opposition party.

He also confirms what we've heard for some time about his plans to join the Catholic Church, following a path not dissimilar from that taken by yours truly a few years ago:

A Baptist since graduate school, Gingrich said he will soon convert to Catholicism, his wife’s faith.

We're certainly glad to see him coming over.

A long read, but well worth reading. Go check it out.

From the campaign trail ...

We got this picture from Moye Graham, a Blogland regular, featuring the three announced SCGOP Chair candidates on a recent stop in Manning.

This race is so much more open and active than past races, where much of the work was done behind the scenes. The more active, hands-on level of campaigning for this job has energized the GOP base, with many events where they are showing having noticably increased turnout.

But we must admit that we had to wonder if Bobby Gibbons, Clarendon GOP Chair, and Moye Graham, Clarendon GOP Vice-Chair, were standing in between the candidates for better placement, or to keep them separated?

Berkeley County GOP Breakfast Club features SCGOP Chair candidates this Saturday

Is Britney Spears a singing popslut? Or maybe Jessica Simpson or Raul Castro? Find revelations here.

Location: American Legion, Howe Hall Road, Goose Creek
Date/Time: Saturday, March 7, 2009 @ 9 a.m.

Contact: Charles Schuster, Moderator –
843-509-6027 / schusterce@yahoo.com

As the three announced candidates for the Chairmanship of the S.C. Republican Party continue their campaigns, they will be visiting Goose Creek on Saturday, March 7, for a candidate forum:

• Rick Beltram of Spartanburg
• Karen Floyd of Spartanburg
• Kevin Hall of Columbia

Meeting at the American Legion on Howe Hall Road in Goose Creek, the candidates will present their agendas and take questions from attendees.

Breakfast is served for $5.00 and the public, regardless of political affiliation, is welcome to attend this important event.

The Capps GOP Agenda: Mail Anthrax to Republican households

As part of his effort to inject hard rock influences into the often bland and easy-listening ranks of the GOP, reports have surfaced that Earl Capps, blogger and prospective candidate for SCGOP chair, is planning to mail Anthrax to leading GOP activists.

Before Governor Sanford sends SLED to kick his ass into next week, it is important to point out to Blogland readers that references to Anthrax are referring to ANTHRAX THE HEAVY MOSHIN' THRASHIN' METAL BAND.

His explanation for this plan was simple:

Since I bought my Zune player before the holidays, I've copied a lot of my collection to digital format and backed up those files as well. I've got quite a few CDs that I don't need anymore, so I thought I could share some Anthrax with fellow Republicans who really need to get infected with this stuff. But I'm willing to bet if I sent some to the Governor's office, they really wouldn't get the joke - especially after someone sent him fake anthrax not too long ago.

My advice to anyone who may have gotten fake Anthrax - accept no substitutes. Only real Anthrax will do.

This announcement to start mailing out Anthrax took some observers by surprise, even for those who have become used to Capps' irreverent and possibly pyschotic ways:

I'm not sure what he's getting at by sending out Anthrax. Personally I think he needs to be sending out Black Sabbath CDs, starting with my house.

- Mike Reino, Blogger at SC6

This is exactly what the GOP needs. I'm sure under Earl's leadership, it won't be long before the SCGOP is the first political organization with its own "Behind the Music" episode.

- Brian McCarty, Blogger at Voting under the Influence

What the hell is this Anthrax, and why don't we just send SLED to his house to kick his brains in?

- Overheard coming out of the Governor's office, sources unknown

Divided GOP ranks give tax-and-spenders a win in the State Senate

We've heard from a number of fiscal conservatives from around the state about the goings-on in the Senate about the efforts to establish a new board which would review state tax policies and recommend changes. Along with the Policy Council, they're not happy about a losing effort by Senator Bryant, who put forth an amendment which would have prevented the commission from recommending tax increases.

In this effort, which failed in a 20-19 vote Sixteen Democrats were joined by four Republicans in blocking Bryant's amendment, while eighteen Republicans were joined by one Democrat in supporting Bryant.
An "Aye" vote was to kill Bryant's amendment, a "Nay" vote was to support it:

AYES: Alexander Cleary Coleman Cromer Ford Hutto Jackson Land Leatherman Leventis Lourie Malloy McGill Nicholson O'Dell Reese Scott Setzler Sheheen Williams

NAYS: Bright Bryant Campbell Courson Davis Elliott Fair Knotts S. Martin L. Martin Massey McConnell Mulvaney Peeler Rankin Ryberg Shoopman Thomas Verdin

A concern which has been addressed to us is that they believed that any one of the four GOP Senators who were absent when this vote was held - Chip Campsen, Larry Grooms, Wes Hayes, or Mike Rose - been there, the vote would have been tied, giving Lt. Governor Andre Bauer the chance to cast a tie-breaking vote. Bauer is well-known for casting votes against tax increases.

Had any two of them been there, Bryant's effort would have succeeded outright.

We hope the four absent GOP Senators had a good reason for missing this vote, because the people we talked with sounded awful pissed about it.