503 postings in 365 days: Looking back at 2010

2010 has been a pretty wild ride in the Blogland - and one I'm glad is over. But at the same time, there's a lot to be thankful for. I certainly owe the growing numbers of Blogland readers a big THANK YOU!
Among the things I'm thankful for are an ever-growing readership, a record number of postings, the ability to give my readers a ringside seat to some of the hottest breaking news of the 2010 election cycle, the hospitality shown by my readers across the state and beyond, and the unfortunate moments in which I learned who my friends really were.
This year, the Blogland shared it's thoughts with our readers via a record 503 articles.
So let's look back at the year that was - and thankfully is no more ...

Lining up to replace Mulvaney

It looks like there will be a wide-open field to fill Congressman Mick Mulvaney's seat in the State Senate. Seven Republicans and a Libertarian are looking at running for the open Senate seat, in a district which reaches from the booming Charlotte suburbs in Fort Mill and Indian Land to the rural back end of Lancaster County.

This district has been in Republican hands since 1992, when former Senator Greg Gregory toppled 28-year incumbent Democrat Red Hinson. Mulvaney won the contest to fill the open seat two years ago, prior to kicking off his bid to oust John Spratt.

As Congressman-elect Mick Mulvaney prepares to join the U.S. House, seven Republicans and one Libertarian are eyeing his former state Senate seat.

The list of hopefuls - some declared, others still mulling it over - includes an accountant, pharmacist, car dealer, truck driver and senior home care consultant.

About the only thing missing is a Democrat.

The Bitch is (not) Back

Gov.-elect Nikki Haley won’t grant Oprah Winfrey an interview with Susan Smith, the Union mother convicted of killing her two sons in 1994.

Winfrey said on her show that aired Wednesday that she wanted to interview Smith for her final season. Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said the new governor won’t allow it.

“While Gov.-elect Haley has great respect for Oprah, let’s be clear: Ms. Smith got enough press when she killed her two children and lied about it to the country,” Godfrey said. “South Carolina suffered enough from this tragedy, and we are now focused on the positives in our great state.”

What we don't get is why Oprah was so desperate and cold-hearted as to consider the idea in the first place. It's petty and self-centered moments like this that make sure we won't miss her when her TV show goes off the air. But it's no more self-centered than Smith, who has continued to generate headlines since her incarceration.

In that regard, Winfrey and Smith probably have enough in common to fill at least an entire episode with the kind of fawning and whining that her show is well known for. Some people have no class. In this instance, this applies to Smith and Winfrey equally.

Jeff Duncan's energy mission

The Politico named Third District Congressman Jeff Duncan as one of ten House freshmen to watch on the subject of energy:

Jeff Duncan (S.C.) — The incoming Natural Resources Committee freshman wants to help boost the panel’s profile when it comes to energy issues. Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) lost his bid this year to swipe energy jurisdiction away from the Energy and Commerce Committee, but Duncan said there’s plenty of room for the Resources panel to get more active on energy issues by opening up federal lands that are currently off limits to energy exploration. “Let’s further explore the Outer Continental Shelf,” he said. He’d also like to see legislation to expand nuclear power and energy production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

This isn't surprising news to the Blogland - but it's certainly welcome news.

Alvin Greene on the State House special election scene

He paid the $165 filing fee on Christmas Eve to run in a special election. The 64th District seat was made vacant earlier this month after the death of Summerton Democrat Rep. Cathy Harvin. She died due to complications from breast cancer at the age of 56.

Cal Land is chairman of the Clarendon County Democratic Party and said Greene entered the race five minutes after the filing period opened.

More party switching

The fallout from November's elections continues with more elected Democrats jumping into GOP ranks:

GEORGIA: Republicans edge closer to their third legislative super-majority gain this year with State Rep. Bubber Epps joining the GOP, followed by State Rep. Rep. Mike Cheokas.

LOUISIANA: State Rep. Fred Mills crosses over, further building the GOP edge in that chamber.

Meet the 2010 Joker of the Year

When it comes to naming the Joker of the Year, there was no shortage of candidates for the title. However, we’re relieved that we won’t be awarding it to outgoing Governor Mark Sanford for a third year.

Instead of dropping yet another bomb on the Governor, we’ve found someone who truly blew it this year in a way that will be long remembered:

Outgoing Fifth District Congressman John Spratt - South Carolina's very own endangered species.

The 2010 Righteous Dude of the Year

As the Blogland is unrepentantly stuck in the 80s, only we would come up with a "Righteous Dude of the Year" award, inspired by that famous line in the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off:

The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wasteoids, dweebies, dickheads — they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude.

Naming this year’s Righteous Dude wasn’t easy, as there were so many who made a big splash on the state’s political scene this year. But decisions had to be made, and we made our choice:

First District Congressman Tim Scott.

More names in House District 64 race

It may be the week of Christmas, but that doesn't slow down Clarendon County politics one bit as more look at jumping into the race to fill the seat vacated by the passing of State Representative Cathy Harvin.

County Council Chair Dwight Stewart has entered the race, making it at least a two-way Democratic primary with Kevin Johnson, the Mayor of Manning. There may be more coming, as we've heard Clarendon County Coroner Hayes Samuels and former Senate candidate Alvin Greene are considering running. There is also the possibility of a member of State Senator John Land's family jumping in.

Republicans have a couple of candidates looking at the race as well.

Getting tough on Lowcountry scumbags

Two losers will be gone for a long time, thanks to a couple of Lowcountry judges ...

Last Thursday, Circuit Judge Kristi "Handcuffs" Harrington sents this Berkeley pedophile away for life:

The jury found Ronald Lee McCauley of Summerville guilty of three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of unlawful conduct toward a minor and two counts of lewd act upon a child, according to a statement released by the 9th Circuit Solicitor's Office.

Circuit Judge Kristi Harrington sentenced McCauley to three terms of life without the possibility of parole.

Then on Friday, Circuit Judge Deadra Jefferson gave this cop-shooter the max:

A jury took less than one hour Friday to find Brandon Simmons guilty of shooting Charleston County Sheriff's Deputy Jeffrey DeGrow six times.

Simmons, 22, received the maximum 25-year sentence from Circuit Judge Deadra Jefferson, 20 years for one count of assault and battery with intent to kill and five years for one count of possessing a firearm during a violent crime. The years will run consecutively.

Race on for Rep. Harvin's House seat

The first name for House District 64, which was vacated by the passing of Democratic Rep. Cathy Harvin of Summerton, has emerged.

Kevin Johnson, who has served as Mayor of Manning, Clarendon County's seat, for ten years, is the first to formally announce he's running. Clarendon County Council Chair Dwight Stewart, another long-time Clarendon politico, is reportedly looking at the seat as well.

Other Democrats are reportedly looking at the seat and local Republicans have reported inquiries and may field a candidate as well.

Haley transition: So far, so good

After the events of the last year, as well as other information, the Blogland was admittedly apprehensive about the direction of the Haley administration. However, the early moves taken in the transition have been both intriguing and comforting.

Yesterday, the Governor-elect announced her senior staff picks. All of seemed pretty qualified, but three stood out as outstanding picks with the experience and ability to do great things for the incoming Governor:

  • Rob Godfrey, Press Secretary. He knows how to organize and pitch a message and knows the South Carolina media "battleground" well.
  • Ted Pitts, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Cabinet Affairs. We've gotten to know Ted a little over the last couple of years. He's got a strong work ethic, good leadership experience, and isn't afraid to reach out to people to bring them on board.
  • Trey Walker, Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs and Communications. Nobody knows their way around Columbia and state politics better than this guy. Trey is a cool-headed guy who has worked in a variety of roles in both politics and policy. He know's who's who, and how to work with them.

Appointing Catherine Templeton, an attorney with a strong resume in both the public and private sector, to head up SC LLR, was another strong move. Haley cited her as someone who will promote public and occupational safety, efficiency, and advocate the state's right-to-work status. Based on her resume, we believe she is well-capable of delivering progress in these areas.

But we're not the only ones who think she's making some smart choices.

Taking aim at the I-95 speed trap in Ridgeland

Former U.S. Attorney Pete Strom stirred the smoldering fire over the I-95 speed trap in Ridgeland by posting this report and request for feedback from those who've received tickets while driving through the town's area of jurisdiction over the key East Coast freeway:

According to the Ridgeland Municipal Court Traffic Court Roster , approximately 1,950 people have been charged with a traffic violation and are scheduled to appear in traffic court on Monday, January 3, 2010. At fines ranging from $100-$300, this is an extremely profitable way to recoup funds for the Town, especially considering the fact that the majority of people stopped are traveling through South Carolina to an out of state destination and will likely pay the fine to avoid traffic court.

We would like to hear from South Carolina residents who received a Uniform Traffic Ticket from the Town of Ridgeland, as well as out of state drivers ticketed while passing through South Carolina. Please post your comments below and describe the details surrounding your traffic citation. Also, please indicate whether your driving was impaired by the flash of the light from the video camera or whether anything else distracted you.

State Senator Larry Grooms has taken an interest in this issue, as have others. We'll be talking with them and following this, so stay tuned ...

Rep. Limehouse takes on fake military vets

In "Trading Places", a favorite movie in the Blogland, Eddie Murphy portrays a down-on-his-luck con artist. When confronted by police, he claims to be a legless Vietnam vet and Green Beret: "it was real hush hush. I was Agent Orange, Special Agent Orange, that was me."

Last week, Les Agro of Summerville told a story about being a Navy SEAL who'd taken part in the 1991 liberation of Kuwait. It was a tale he's convincingly spun for at least eight years.

On Tuesday, Agro admitted he's an impostor.

Senate Democrats and the Great Mallard Massacre

According to a tweet from Senate Democratic Caucus director Phil Bailey:

Today will be known as the Great Mallard Massacre. Dec 14, 2010. Never Forget.

George Campsen, legislator and father of Sen. Chip Campsen, dies

George Campsen, Jr., the father of State Senator Chip Campsen of Mt. Pleasant, passed away this evening. Our thoughts, prayers and condolences are with his family.

Campsen was a successful businessman with a long record of community involvement. He'll be missed.

According to the Charleston Post and Courier:

Campsen, of the Isle of Palms, was perhaps best known as operator of Fort Sumter Tours, which he founded in 1961.

Born and reared in Charleston, Campsen was a 1951 graduate of The Citadel, where he was captain of the boxing team. He was an Air Force veteran of the Korean War and went to law school at the University of South Carolina.

He served three terms as a state representative from 1958 through 1964.

Campsen was widely regarded as a powerful story-teller and persuasive trial lawyer, as well as a successful businessman. He parlayed a $7,000 down payment on the first boat for Fort Sumter Tours into a thriving family-run business, which now includes SpiritLine Cruises.

His wife, Myrtle Smith Campsen, died in 2007. He is survived by four children: George E. "Chip" Campsen III, Richard Campsen, Cyndi Mosteller and Terrye Seckinger.

More looking at running for Mulvaney's Senate seat

Since yesterday's report on the developing race to fill Congressman Mick Mulvaney's seat in the State Senate, three more names have surfaced as potential candidates for the seat:

  • Rob McCoy from Lancaster. McCoy recently lost a challenge to Democratic State Rep. Jimmy Neal.
  • Mike Short from Fort Mill. Short served several terms on York County Council.
  • Winston Smith from Lancaster. Smith is the current Chair of the Lancaster County GOP.
We've also been told that Democrat Bayles Mack and Paul Lindeman have opted not to compete in the GOP primary.

Crowded field for Mulvaney's Senate Seat

More names keep popping up in the contest to replace Congressman-elect Mick Mulvaney in the State Senate, with filing for the seat scheduled to open on New Year's Eve.

We've already talked about two who were looking at running for the seat: long-time Democratic Fort Mill attorney Bayles Mack and Lancaster pharmacist Hugh Mobley.

Here's who else is looking at seeking the GOP nod for the Republican-leaning district:

Haley joins the ports race

It's a war up and down the East Coast for shipping business, as the New York Times points out. The once-dominant Port of Charleston has fallen in its standings, especially to Savannah, but the need to keep up with larger ships threatens to reshuffle the deck in favor to Charleston's advantage.

They quote the incoming Governor, who seems determined to take the matter seriously:

“You now have a governor who does not like to lose,” she told a crowd at an annual dinner for the ports, which was held the same day last month that the Corps of Engineers announced the approval for the Savannah dredging. “Georgia has had their way with us for way too long, and I don’t have the patience to let it happen anymore.”

Given the importance of the Charleston port to the economy of the entire state, more forceful leadership on this matter would be a good thing.

Overview of the U.S. House calendar for 2011

The office of the House Majority Leader gives an overview of its intended working calendar for the 2011 session of the House, featuring less time spent in Washington by members, more transparency of the legislative process and better planning.

Democrats go duck hunting

On Tuesday, the State Senate Democratic Caucus holds their annual duck hunt at an undisclosed location in rural South Carolina.

While we understand that conditions will be absolutely miserable for such an occasion - cold, damp, and dreary - we wish them good luck and safe hunting.

GOP on verge of legislative clean sweep in the South?

The 2010 elections and their aftermath saw much of the remaining state-level power of Southern Democrats evaporate. Prior to this, they held roughly half of the Southern legislative chambers, but the GOP took control of nearly half of those chambers : the Houses and Senates in Alabama and North Carolina on election night, and the Louisiana House shortly afterwards, leaving the Democrats in charge of just seven out of 26 legislative chambers from Austin to Richmond.

Republicans made considerable gains in every Southern state which held legislative elections this fall, gaining 163 seats.  By contrast, in the seven Southern legislative chambers which the Democrats still hold, their collective majority is just 37 seats, with the GOP cutting those majorities nearly in half by gaining a total of 30 seats in those chambers in last month's elections:

"F**k the President"? F**K everyone!

Apparently there are Democrats who didn't get the message from last month's elections. 

The first group is comprised of House Democrats, who recently voted to keep Nancy Pelosi as their leader. In a meeting where they rejected the compromise tax deal stricken between President Obama and House Republicans, one House Democrat eloquently described the new go-it-alone approach:

An unidentified Democratic lawmaker let slip his frustration at President Obama’s proposed tax compromise, apparently muttering “f**k the president,” during a heated debate this morning.

But that unidentified Democrat wasn't alone in the efforts by the budding Suicide Caucus to ignore the message from last month's elections, where votes cast nationwide resulted in a historic top-to-bottom rout for Democrats. Their activist base has gone from grumbling on the sidelines to taking their fight public:

Democratic defections continue through South

Similar to the months following the 1994 elections, where a GOP electoral wave was followed by numerous defections by Democrats, more Democratic officials in Southern states announced their decisions to join the Republican Party since our last post on this subject.

Many of these recent defections have shifted political power across the South, most notably in three states: Alabama (House GOP super-majority), Georgia (five seats shy of super-majority), and Louisiana (GOP leads in the House, and Democrat lead in Senate down to two seats).

Here are the latest Southern Democrats to cross over to the GOP:

2011 Inaugural event info & tix online

The 2011 State Inaugural - so hot an event that even Strom Thurmond's gonna be there!

You can get info about events, both free and paid, online and even buy tickets to the Family Fun night (I'll be there) and the Inaugural ball by going online to http://2011inaugural.sc.gov.

Here's a listing of inaugural events (so far, we expect many of the constitutional officers will be having their own events, and we'll inform you of those as we become aware of them):

You AND the moped you rode in on

It's no secret that in South Carolina, mopeds are a common transportation choice for many on the lower socio-economic rungs who've lost their driver's licenses. The problem is that many of them aren't any more responsible on two small wheels than with four, especially taking up an entire lane of a road while they putter along at maybe 20 m.p.h.

And you'll certainly never see any of them looking as safe or responsible as the two in that photo.

Yours truly had a moped when I was about 14. It never occurred to me that I had equal standing in traffic, so I always rode to the right and tried my best to stay out of the way of motor vehicles.

A couple of state Reps from Spartanburg County - Derham Cole and Eddie Tallon - don't like what they've seen either and are working to fix the problem:

South Carolina's House freshmen back committee leadership term limits

The Wall Street Journal is reporting House GOP freshmen standing their ground on limiting the terms which a House Republican can be a Chair or ranking member.

The two of South Carolina's four House freshmen that we were able to reach indicated they were standing their ground on this position.

According to the WSJ:

Newly elected Republican lawmakers say they don’t like the idea of granting waivers to GOP term-limit rules that bar members from serving more than six years as a chairman or ranking member of top committees.

That’s a bad sign for Rep. Jerry Lewis, who is seeking the chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Joe Barton, who wants the gavel for the Energy and Commerce Committee.

What Have I Done? WisDOT Work Zone Safety Ad

As the holiday season puts many of us on the roads a lot more, along with increased incidence of drinking and driving, your friends at the Blogland would like to present a public service message about driving safely in construction zones.

If you know any Lowcountry lawyers named Anne, ask her to watch this video with you, in case she finds herself with more free time on her hands these days.

Guest Op-Ed: Charlie Lybrand supports Sarah Palin

In recent months, the Blogland has begun accepting guest op-ed submissions for publication, allowing our readers to have their moment in the spotlight and share their news, opinions, and attitudes with our readers.

If you've got something to say, send it. We don't promise it will get published, but if it's well-written and has the potential to stir discussion, it might just get published.

Today's guest op-ed comes from long-time Charleston politico Charlie Lybrand. He has served as Charleston County's Register of Deeds since 1994, and served on Charleston County Council for several years before that.

Selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2010 may be the most important thing John McCain has done for his country since serving so honorably in the Navy and then as a POW in Vietnam. The Keating Four, or the McCain Fiendgold Bill or his insistence on securing Amnesty for all of this country’s illegals certainly aren’t highlights in his career. But giving us Sarah Palin, may make up for these missteps.

You shouldn't believe everything you hear about Alan Clemmons

You hear a lot of big talk and hot air in Columbia.  The Blogland has to sort through it all the time, as part of our ongoing missing to try to get to the truth of the matters to help inform and influence our readers.

It would be easier to just buy them off, but we didn't have the budget for that, and a lot of them are too honest anyway.

As part of our ongoing fact-checking mission, we're going to discuss some things we've heard that Alan Clemmons may try to tell you today:
  • When he tells you he's just 37, he's probably handing you a line.
  • When he tells you today's his birthday, he's telling you the truth.
So be sure to wish him a Happy Birthday!

Dirty Harry and the Bootleg Merchandise

Last week, Secretary of State Mark "Dirty Harry" Hammond's office did a sting at the Metro Flea Market on Highway 1 in West Columbia, snagging three people selling just under $200 grand worth of counterfeit merchandise:

The Secretary of State’s Office partnered with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department to conduct a sting in West Columbia on December 1, 2010, that resulted in the confiscation of nearly $188,000 in pirated DVDs and CDs and counterfeit merchandise.

What we're trying to figure out is how many items they seized. It had to be a lot.

But it looks like two of the three were given fair warning previously about this, thus they can't complain about Hammond dropping the proverbial axe on them. Maybe they just felt lucky:

Rep. Cathy Harvin

The thoughts and prayers are with the family of Clarendon County State Representative Cathy Harvin, who died today following years of courageous fighting against cancer.

Harvin (second from the left in the photo) was a devoted neighbor of Clarendon County, following her late husband in serving in the State House. Well known for her gracious hospitality and high energy, she was involved in numerous community efforts. She donated far more than the amount of her legislative salary to fund numerous community activities and awards.

Agree or disagree with her on issues, one could respect her enthusiasm and drive to make her time on this Earth count.

Representative Harvin should be appreciated for her legislative efforts, courage in battling cancer and her strong sense of community spirit. She was a very uncommon and remarkable figure who touched the lives of those around her and will be missed by many.

Tea Party groups' "10 point" pledge long on talk, short on homework

Our pals down at the Columbia Tea Party are working on this project; thought I’d share it with you. I’ll bring you updates when there are any, they plan to finalize this 10 point pledge and present it to all representatives now serving in SC House of representatives and senate.
Before they go protesting government, it might help if they actually knew what they were talking about, because two of the ten items they're demanding are already required by state law.

Getting personal: Why the Blogland won't go there

The Blogland's mission is simple: to engage in thoughtful discussion, sharing information that we think readers will want to read to inform, advocate and sometimes entertain. To keep the pot stirred with a growing audience and increased level of influence, it's not easy. One of the most important challenges for the Blogland is to keep it factual, fair, and respectful.

Part of this effort means avoiding engaging in the ongoing personal slimefest that seems to be all the rage in South Carolina media circles. In recent weeks, news media - both new and traditional - have focused on personal missteps by family members of South Carolina politicos. Over the last two years, what's personal has become the stuff of headlines all too often.

My opinion of the approach can be expressed in a comment which I shared with a so-called reporter last summer: "What part of my life is nobody's business don't you understand?"

Tim Scott challenges racial identity in politics

The Congressional Black Caucus sent an invitation to Congressman Tim Scott to join their ranks.

The Congressional Black Caucus got a response from Congressman Tim Scott:

While I recognize the efforts of the CBC and appreciate their invitation for me to caucus with them, I will not be joining at this time. My campaign was never about race.

S.C. Republicans working for transparency at home and in Congress

While it seems as if every new Speaker makes substantial promises to use technology and transparency in new ways, House Republicans can already point to ways they've done just that, including asking for feedback on the America Speaking Out platform and YouCut, where users can suggest and vote for government programs they wish to be cut from the federal budget. The agenda that's been put forward to date by leading Republicans like incoming Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has the potential to increase the use of technology in enforcing congressional transparency.

When it comes to transparency issues, South Carolina Republicans may turn out to be ahead of the pack.

He makes bowties look good

We want to wish a very Happy Birthday to one of South Carolina's coolest and most insightful politicos - Wesley Donehue.

For those who can make it, he'll be doing a special edition of Pub Politics, South Carolina's must-see web show, from the Sly Fox in the Vista starting at 6pm today. 

We've been told he's turning 36 today, but we haven't been able to confirm these reports.

Even if you can't make it, please join us in wishing him a Happy Birthday.

So this is what "change" is all about?

As Barack Obama talked about "earning the respect" of foreign nations and ending pay-to-play politics on the campaign stump, it's a little puzzling that his approach to solving the Guantanamo prisoner problem comes across as more pay-off politics and heavy-handed treatment of our allies:

Slovenia, seeking a meeting with President Obama, was encouraged to “do more” on detainee resettlement if it wanted to “attract higher-level attention from Washington”; its prime minister later “linked acceptance of detainees to ‘a 20-minute meeting’ ” with the president, but the session — and the prisoner transfer — never happened. 

Please note that Slovenia, the nation having its arm twisted by the White House, is a member of NATO, the United States' foremost political and military alliance.

Buying foreign favors and snubbing allies to clean up the mess made by short-sighted Presidential policies sure sounds like the kind of thing that Candidate Obama said he'd never do.

But we guess that's what they call "change"?

Leslie Nielsen

While he didn't star in a lot of major Hollywood hits, his presence was unmistakable. It's hard to imagine classic Hollywood comedy without thinking about Airplane and Police Squad.

Talent like this doesn't come this way often.

He'll be missed in the Blogland and a lot of other places as well.

It must have been a slow news day at WIS

Bloggers are accused of being one-sided, unprofessional, and not living up to journalistic standards. So when we find sloppy and unprofessional reporting by traditional news media outlets who are supposed to be setting the standards for journalism, we find such claims amusing.

Last week, WIS TV reporter Jack Kuenzie decided to grant a disgruntled former employee a forum to air his grievances against his former employer. In this story, Victor Harris, a Midlands resident, alleged he was fired from an unnamed Midlands trucking company. In the story, Harris claimed, without presenting any evidence, that he was fired for refusing to drive more than the permitted number of hours. He also alleged that safe practices were regularly ignored by his former employer.

So where did the story go wrong? Lack of fairness, lack of evidence and a clear lack of understanding of the trucking workforce demand:

Catch up with the Blogland via Facebook

As part of the efforts to make the Blogland more connected to its readers, as well as to each other, there's now a Facebook fan page for readers to sign up to.

Those who sign up will get the new Blogland stories on their Facebook feed, as well as have easier access to yours truly. As an exclusive bonus, you can expect some tidbits that won't show up on the blogsite as well.

Tune in for more of the news, opinions and attitudes that you've come to expect from the Blogland by CLICKING ON THIS TEXT LINK or hitting the box on the left side of this website.

Post-election party switching boosting GOP's 2010 gains

Just like 1994, the 2010 GOP wave that swept the South didn't stop with election night. A wave of party switches which helped pad the GOP's electoral gains in the months following the 1994 elections seems to be repeating itself.
Here's this fall's party-switching action:
  • Following the GOP's upset takeover of the Alabama House and Senate, four House Democrats crossed over, giving the GOP a two-thirds super-majority in a chamber where it was the minority a month ago. Alabama state Reps. Alan Boothe of Troy, Steve Hurst of Munford, Mike Millican of Hamilton and Lesley Vance of Phenix City announced their plans to defect, citing a wake-up call from their constituents who went heavily for Republicans in most other races.

With Republicans now holding either two or three of the "cards" (House, Senate and Governor) for reapportionment control in most of the southern tier states from Arizona to North Carolina (Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico are the exceptions), these switches may not be the last.

Thankful for you

On this day of Thanksgiving, the Blogland has many things to be thankful for, but most importantly, we're most thankful for ...


Your readership, support, story leads, feedback, interview responses and patience mean the world to us.

Wilkins a smart pick to lead Haley transition

A lot of people, the Blogland included, had it's skepticism about how Governor-elect Nikki Haley would approach. We agree with WYFF-TV's op-ed that picking Greenville attorney David Wilkins, former State House Speaker and Ambassador to Canada, to lead her transition efforts was a smart move:

In Wilkins, Haley gets a seasoned political mind and a strong voice in the South Carolina political process. She also gets a name which is widely recognized and accepted as a party leader who is separate and apart from the Sanford Administration. Finally, Wilkins is respected by both parties and may be someone who can help unite the legislature with the Governor's office after a rocky eight year run. We believe David Wilkins is the right man at the right time to help Governor-elect Haley mold the Governor's Office and he may mend some legislative fences along the way.

In the 1990s, Wilkins proved his ability to lead in the State House, building consensus for GOP proposals in the State House before Republicans took control after the 1994 elections, as well as leading the chamber after Republicans took control. He did a lot of heavy lifting to move through legislation regarding restructuring, property tax reduction, auto insurance reform and truth-in-sentencing. 

Two years after his return from Canada, where he won considerable praise as the United States ambassador, he'll be back in thick of state government via the Haley transition team. His experience will be invaluable to helping get the Haley administration off to a good start.

We hope this kind of smart thinking about combining conservative principles with smart governance will become the standard for doing business in the Haley administration.

Worth watching

With the ARRA short-term bailouts ending and state government revenues still down, few are expecting that 2011 will be anything but another tough fiscal year. The Charleston Post and Courier gives credit to Governor-elect Haley for not waiting for January to start working to manage the situation:

The state's budget situation is bad and going to get worse, with another $1 billion in revenue losses expected next year. It's an occasion for action, not hand-wringing, and Gov.-elect Nikki Haley has taken a major step toward cutting government without crippling it.

Mrs. Haley has named a Fiscal Crisis Task Force to make recommendations before the Legislature meets in January. The quality of that group is an indication that the General Assembly will get a substantive plan, not only to cut state government, but to reform it.

Why did conservatives support Harrell over Norman?

Many fingers are being pointed at the landslide defeat of Ralph Norman in his challenge to sitting House Speaker Bobby Harrell. In losing 112-5, he found few bases of support. Republicans lined up solidly behind Harrell, including many of the more conservative members. Even Republicans on his home county delegation were split, three for Norman (including Norman) and three backing Harrell.

Some conservative activists have been asking what went wrong. We've heard, and examined, two theories about some of the dynamics in the Speaker's race:

Haley vs. Harrell?: The first "conspiracy theory" we've heard was from those who alleged this was a Haley vs. Harrell battle. We've spoken to a number of legislators, as well as a couple of people close to Haley, all of whom have made it clear that Haley was not involved in this race, nor were House members trying to send her any sort of message.

RINO vs. Conservative: While the first theory we heard lacked credibilty, the second theory we heard - that Norman wasn't as conservative as his backers might have believed - had more credibility.

A look at the 2009-2010 scorecard of the Palmetto Family Council's PAC, an influential organization in GOP circles, gave Norman a 50% score. Norman was tied with Rep. Brian White as the lowest-scoring Republican on their scorecard. We've been told these ratings were shared amongst legislators in recent days.

It's no small irony that Carl Gullick, who Norman replaced last year, had an 83% score, in spite of those who argued Gullick was a "RINO".

Hammond announces 2010 Angels and Scrooges

Carrying on a tradition started by his predecessor, Secretary of State Mark "Dirty Harry" Hammond announced this year's "Angels and Scrooges", identifying those registered charitable organizations who devoted the largest, as well as smallest, shares of their revenue towards their programs.

It's interesting to note that while all of the Scrooges were based outside of South Carolina, eight of the ten Angels were based in-state.

The Angels were groups which had been established for at least three years; has collected revenue greater than $20,000; 80 percent or more of the revenue must go toward the charities’ program goals; makes good use of volunteer labor; and receives minimal funding in grants.

The Scrooges were those who spent a high percentage of their collections on stated program activities and/or use of a high percentage of collections to pay professional solicitors. The following criteria were considered:  the charity had given 40 percent or less of the revenue to the charities’ program goals; collected revenue greater than $20,000; and spent a large amount of donations on the use of professional fundraisers.

So who were the good guys and bad guys?

House Leadership elected: Harrell rolls Norman, Jay Lucas elected Speaker Pro Tem

York County State Rep. Ralph Norman lost his bid for Speaker earlier today. with most of the House conservatives backing incumbent Speaker Bobby Harrell for another term. Final vote count: 112 Harrell, 5 Norman.

Republicans on Norman's home county delegation were split. Norman was supported by Tommy Pope and Gary Simrill, while Reps Greg Delleney, Deborah Long and Steve Moss went with Harrell.

Darlington County Republican Rep. Jay Lucas was elected to replace outgoing Rep. Harry Cato as Speaker Pro Tempore.

Today's Judicial qualifications

The Judicial Merit Screening Committee released candidates for three judicial seats today:

  • Fifth Circuit, Circuit Court Judge: Benjamin, Meadors & Hood
  • Ninth Circuit, Family Court Judge: Mack, Martin, Turner
  • Thirteenth Circuit, Circuit Court Judge: Englebardt, Mackenzie & Verdin

Special thanks to Ferris Bueller for keeping us updated. More screening reports are due tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Congressional redistricting to benefit Horry County?

A while back, the Blogland discussed the prospects of South Carolina getting a seventh seat in Congress, speculating on how the seats may be drawn. Right now, all the signs point to reapportionment being a big win for the folks from heavily-Republican Horry County.

Over the last few decades, political muscle of the county which bills itself as the "Independent Republic of Horry" has grown considerably, making it the largest metro area in the state not to have a resident member of Congress (Aiken, Beaufort and Florence are the others).  Each round of redistricting over the last three decades has added a State House seat to the county and the county likely will claim another seat, or draw in major parts of seats from neighboring counties, next year. Also, the Senate seat currently held by Dick Elliot was originally an upper Pee Dee seat, but over the 1991 and 2001 reapportionment cycles has gradually been moving into Horry, a process which will likely be completed next year.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that Myrtle Beach State Rep. Alan Clemmons is expected to be one of the key legislative players in redistricting. He cautioned us that "regardless of where a 7th SC Congressional District calls home, the area encompassed by the other 6 districts will, by necessity, be dramatically altered."

But there are other people outside of Horry County who would probably like moving Horry into a 7th District.

The Whip. Whipped.

It's official - J.C. Hammer ... um, Jim Clyburn .. gets hammered, dropping a bid for another term as the Democratic House Whip, allowing Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) a free ride to be the second-in-command of the House Democrats as they go into exile, led by the same person who led them into this year's massacre: Nancy Pelosi:

A race between Hoyer, D-Md., and Clyburn, South Carolina's 6th District representative, for the post of party whip took shape in the days following the election and quickly took on racial overtones. Clyburn is the most powerful African-American in Congress, and he drew a formal endorsement from the Congressional Black Caucus. But he failed to generate enough additional support to overcome Hoyer’s strength among liberals and conservatives alike, and it appeared his only options were to run against Hoyer and lose or else concede the obvious and step aside.

Glenn McCall to seek SCGOP Chair?

This morning, RNC Committeman Glenn McCall confirmed to the Blogland that he is considering entering the race to replace outgoing SCGOP Chair Karen Floyd.

At the present time, our sources have also indidcated that Columbia attorney Todd Kincannon, a former SCGOP Executive Director, and Newberry businessman Chad Connelly, who lost a 2003 State Senate primary to Senator Ronnie Cromer, are also looking at running for the seat.

Stay tuned ...

Picking the hot State House races - how we did

In the run-up to last week's State House races, we picked out several races that we felt would be close races that deserved watching: House Districts 29, 44, 47, 79, 115, 116, and 119. Two of these three races we picked as ones to watch were GOP gains.

We'll discuss how the seven we picked fared, as well as look at two other races that we completely missed:

GOP lining up behind Mobley to replace Mulvaney

State Senator Mick Mulvaney hasn't even turned in his resignation and the race to fill his Senate seat may already be ending.

According to the Lancaster News, GOP leaders in the Senate district are already lining up to support Lancaster pharmacist Hugh Mobley, while the 2008 Democratic candidate, who ran a close race for the seat, opted not to seek the seat:

Mobley has already picked up the support of three Republican leaders – state House representatives Deborah Long of Indian Land and Ralph Norman of Rock Hill and Greg Gregory, the former District 16 state senator from Lancaster.

This leaves confused Democrats like Bayles Mack little opportunity to enter the race.

Karen Floyd: Mission Accomplished

Whatever one may call Karen Floyd, nobody can call her "quitter".

Four years ago, when she lost her bid for State Education Superintendent by a mere 500 votes, few - including yours truly - would've imagined she'd be back anytime soon, much less winning the Chairmanship of the SCGOP unopposed a year later.

What's happened for South Carolina Republicans during her tenure as Chair would probably have been considered just as unlikely:

  • A three seat gain in the State House (5 if you count 2 seats gained by a special election and a party switch a month prior to her taking office, both efforts in which she was heavily involved),
  • The ouster of long-time GOP target John Spratt in the Fifth Congressional District,
  • A clean sweep where every statewide GOP candidate won by no less than four percentage points (four years ago, Floyd lost by 500 votes and two other winners by margins of less than 4%).
How big a deal were these gains?

Lieutenant General Melvin Zais

The Island Packet newspaper tells a pretty interesting story about incoming State Education Superintendent Mick Zais' father, Melvin, that we felt our readers would want to read:
Melvin graduated in 1937, prepared to be a journalist. But first he was committed to a hitch in the U.S. Army. During the buildup to World War II, he volunteered for America's first airborne battalion. By 27, he was a lieutenant colonel. He rose to four-star general and was commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam.

The blue-collar Yankee married a Tennessee belle, and they had two boys. Both of them graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Like their father, both were paratroopers in Vietnam. And all three of their sons have been paratroopers in Iraq.

Both of Melvin's boys got doctorates, and the younger one, Mick Zais, made it to two-star general. Last week, Mick Zais was elected South Carolina's state superintendent of education.

Lt. General Melvin Zais, a veteran of both the Second World War and Vietnam War, led the 101st Airborne division and then the Third Army. His many decorations and honors include the Distinguished Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Legion of Merit with Two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Bronze Star. In his later years, he retired to Beaufort County.

Karen Floyd not seeking a second term as SCGOP Chair?

The Blogland has learned that SCGOP Chair Karen Floyd will hold a press conference this afternoon to announce her decision to not seek a second term at the helm of the state party.

This decision, on the heels of a major sweep in last week's elections, has caught a number of people that we've spoken with off guard, especially since SCGOP Chairs typically hold office for two to four terms, including the last three: Barry Wynn, Henry McMaster and Katon Dawson (who complains we never say anything nice about him). Those who want to succeed Floyd will have six months to campaign to replace her at the May 2011 convention.

So who might want the job?