Catholic-Orthodox relations warming?

Thanks to Robert, a regular Blogland reader, for sending me this link to this article which suggests notable headway is being made in reconciling relations between Orthodox churches and the Vatican

As an Eastern Rite Catholic, that part of the Catholic Church which continues to embrace Orthodox traditions, such progress in the dialgoue between East and West is welcome news indeed:

This evening, with vespers in the basilica of Saint Paul's Outside the Walls, Benedict XVI is closing the week of prayer for Christian unity.

There are some who say that ecumenism has entered a phase of retreat and chill. But as soon as one that looks to the East, the facts say the opposite. Relations with the Orthodox Churches have never been so promising as they have since Joseph Ratzinger has been pope ...

A righteous dude

They all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude. 

- Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Earlier today, this photo caught Representative Ferris Bueller ... um ... Alan Clemmons walking out of the surf into sleet and 36 degree weather. Yes, he's soaked and freezing, wearing his suit, taking part in the local "Polar Plunge" which helped raise $76,000 for Special Olympics.

The more we get to know this guy, the more we like him - especially having the guts to take a plunge like this, in his usual sharp-dressed style.

I used to love her ...

For a little weekend fun, we wanted to share this image taken of a South Carolinian's vehicle.

Thanks to Adam Fogle at the Palmetto Scoop for pointing this one out.

We're not sure if there's a story behind this one, but whoever it is, we'll be sure to stay away from the special woman in his life, for fear of becoming the next target in his sights.

... which kind of reminds us of that Guns 'N Roses song:

Fact checking the State of the Union

The last day or so, everyone we know is having at it with their opinion of Obama's State of the Union speech. Their assessments tend to run hand-in-hand with their previously-held views of the President, with supporters praising him and opponents criticizing him, and few, if any, changed minds in between.

Instead of giving you what the Blogland thinks, it seems more informative and credible to share some independent analysis from several sources with our readers.

The sources we reviewed raised concerns about Obama's truthfulness in several areas:

The Blogland, Version 2 (point 1)

After a little experimentation, as well as considerable feedback from Blogland readers, the new version of the Blogland, dubbed "2.1" is here to stay.

The process of revision followed lots of feedback from our readers. By far the biggest issues were with was the column format in which each posting was presented in its entirely, making it hard for most regular readers who did not visit the Blogland on a daily basis to keep up.

The recent change to the "desktop" layout served as a sort-of transition phase while the new version was identified and the bugs worked out with a more complicated, script-enhanced version. With those bugs overcome, we're glad to inform our readers that this layout is here to stay for the forseeable future.

We hope you like the new format. If there's something you like, don't like, or would like to see, please let us know.

As always, thanks for reading and be sure to enjoy the weekend.

Carolinas AGC legislative reception - next Wednesday

We're just a week away from the big annual Carolinas AGC legislative reception, which will be held on Wednesday, February 3.

This is a great opportunity for legislators and staff members to unwind a bit after session and touch base with people in the state's construction industry, so we're hoping to see a lot of legislators and staff there.

Of course, the Blogland will be there, so you don't want to miss the occasion.

That's Wednesday, February 3 from 6 to 8 pm at the Koger Center, right across from the State House. Mark your calendar and come join us.

Beaufort's "Double Impact" on fees and fines

Congratulations are in order to Beaufort Senator Tom Davis, whose fight to rein in state fees and fines passed a major milestone when Senate Bill 517 passed the Senate on Tuesday.  The bill now goes to the House, where a similar House bill (3576), sponsored by fellow Beaufort legislative Representative Shannon Erickson also awaits further action.  Both bills would require all fee increases to be approved by the General Assembly. 

While passing along costs via fees and fines can help shift costs from taxpayers onto those who use services, a position which the Blogland generally supports, many state agencies have raised fees considerably during recent budget years, a move which some say was intended to offset budget cuts. Davis was concerned that this process was being abused and that legislative overview of the process was required:

Government budgets have been hit hard, but so have the budgets of families and businesses across South Carolina. We cannot let government use these hidden revenue sources to increase the burden on taxpayers during this economic decline. Prosperity will come through economic freedom and empowerment, not burdensome fee increases.

Thank you General Spears

The announcement of Adjutant General Stan Spears' retirement put to rest long-running speculation about his plans to seek another term.

As a friend of the family, I got to learn a lot about how much time and energy General Spears put into his job, as well as how effective the South Carolina Guard performed in overseas combat missions. South Carolina personnel were well-supported and their relatively low casaulty rates speak to his leadership.

General Spears' service to his state, his nation, and his troops has been unprecedented. He has stood watch over his state's military personnel through two overseas conflicts, as well as numerous disasters. Few South Carolinians can approach his record of service, one which sets a standard we should honor and aspire to.

For his lifetime of service, General Stan Spears has my most heartfelt respect and gratitude. Blogland readers should thank him - and his family - and wish him well in his retirement.

Vacancy sign on at the State House?

Two years ago, the House saw an unprecedented twenty-five freshman members take seats (twenty percent of the House membership), the most new faces seen in the House since the early 90s. 

The last time such turnover had been seeen was in the 1992 and 1994 cycles, when two dozen House seats held mostly by white Democrats by Republicans and black Democrats following reapportionment, aided by strong GOP turnout in those election years. Typically, these high-turnover periods are followed by a long period of stability. However, this year will likely be a continuation of this streak of high legislative turnover.

With ten House members having announced their plans to move on: Jeff Duncan, Nikki Haley, Ken Kennedy, Doug Jennings, Lanny Littlejohn, Ted Pitts, Rex Rice, Tim Scott, Don Smith, and Michael Thompson, the 2010 cycle is likely going to be another year of big turnover. We've heard several other names who are considering leaving as well, but have yet to announce their decisions.

Tim Scott to jump into First Congressional District race?

Not even a month after Henry Brown's decision not to seek re-election and the race for the Republican nomination for the First Congressional District seat (all but a guarantee of election in November) bears little resemblance to what it was two months ago.

The entry of Paul Thurmond into the race has generated lots of attention, and speculation is growing about the possibility of North Charleston State Representative Tim Scott switching from the Lt. Governor's race to the Congressional race.

We've also become aware of Scott cancelling a couple of candidates' forums outside of the First District, another sign that he may be about to switch races.

All our sources say he's all but in the race, with an announcement to be made as early as next week.

Stay tuned.

Help working college students: Increase the SC college tax credit (House Bill 4249)

When I was in college, that thing called a lottery started, promising that students who could maintain full-time enrollment and keep a 3.0 GPA or better would get thousands of dollars a year in tuition assistance.

While working full-time and being a parent, I kept full-time enrollment and a GPA that never dipped below a 3.0 (my final was 3.72) - but learned what a lie that promise was.

The truth is that few working adult students, regardless of their ability to meet eligibility criteria, are allowed to receive lottery money for tuition assistance at four-year public colleges, while the students who don't have to work, often live at home, and don't pay taxes get a free ride.

Does this sound the least bit fair?

Susan Smith just doesn't know when to quit

Susan Smith may have been someone with a real cold heart, playing a number of men in Union behind her husband's back and drowning her two sons in John D. Long Lake, but the woman knows how to keep making a splash in the news media.

In 2000, she was back the national media spotlight when a prison sex scandal broke following an investigation which discovered she had relationships with two prison guards.  The investigation turned up a series of prison sexual encounters, even among those inmates who worked at the Governor's mansion.

Then she got more publicity when she appeared in an online prison pen-pals ad.

Now she wants to get out prison, alleging her legal counsel, in spite of navigating her out of getting the death penalty, was somehow not competent to represent her and that she somehow did not get a fair trial.

Nettie Britts update: Benefit in Greenville - Sat. Feb 6 - Be there!

To celebrate President Ronald Reagan's 98th Birthday, there will be a benefit to help of one of our readers - Midlands GOP activist and USC student Nettie Britts, who was attacked in her home by a still-unknown attacked last summer, suffering considerable head injuries, and from what we were told, came real close to death.

Unfortunately, the perp remains at large.

She's doing much better, but she has a lot of work ahead with rehabilitation, and that's not been cheap.  Your support - both moral and financial - would be a tremendous help to her as she forges ahead with her rehabiliation, as well as still on track to graduate from USC this December.  We'll be attending a black-tie optional event in a couple of weeks (seeing me in a tie is worth coming alone), and invite all our readers - and anyone they know - to join us:

Augusta Manor  -  February 6, 2010
1004 Augusta Street Greenville, South Carolina

Tickets: $25 per Person, Sponsorship $200

Cocktails 6:30 - 7:30 (Cash Bar)
Heavy Hors D'Oeuvres
Silent Auction
Black Tie Optional
Ballroom Dance Music by National Champion Phil Nolan

Birthday fun in Florence

Stephanie Rawlinson is one of the rising stars of Republican politics in the Pee Dee region. So it wasn't too much of a surprise to see many of Florence County's most active GOP operatives gathered for a surprise birthday party last night.

Even her husband was in on the plot, with her walking into a house packed full of appreciative friends, having no idea what was planned.

Anytime people follow the belief that GOP really means "G-O-Party", the Blogland is gonna be there as well. So with not much else to do that night, I went on up to show our appreciation for her work - and to have a lot of fun. Which everyone did.

While the cake refers to a 40th birthday, that is NOT how old she really is. However, I am not at liberty to say how old she really is. Something about getting drug into a swamp and beat to a pulp ...

As always, thanks to the most fun trio in South Carolina Republican circles: the McLaughlin sisters and Dana "the Lubricant Chick" Shriver, who were holding a ladies-only meeting in back when it was time to leave.

Faith versus Religiosity

I ran across this interesting quote on my priest's blog regarding the difference between Faith versus Religiosity earlier this week and thought it was worth sharing with my readers.

The quote is attributed to Father Alexander Men, a Russian Orthodox priest who was a prominent figure in the days the Church was beginning to re-emerge from Communist suppression.

Often what passes for Orthodoxy or another Christian confession is simply natural religiosity which, in its own right, is a kind of opium of the people. It functions as a sort of spiritual anesthetic, it helps a person adjust to his surrounding world, over which one can hang the slogan: ‘Blessed is the one who believes that it is cozy in the world.’ This is all wrong! …Your God is a consuming fire and not a warm hearth, and he is calling you to a place where all sorts of cold winds are blowing, so that what you imagine does not exist. You adapted and developed a completely different teaching to suit your own human needs. You transformed Christianity into a mediocre, popular religion. …Christianity can be authentic and it can be false. The false form is always more convenient. It always suits us better, which is why contemporary religious life is often characterized by a churchly falsehood when people prefer that which is convenient, calm and pleasant, conforms to their own ideas, consoles them, and which they enjoy. It is not at all to this that the Lord called us when he said ‘the gate is narrow’ and ‘the way is narrow.’ Again and again we need to understand that this Spirit is not warmth, but a fire. It is a fire.

Thanks goes out to my priest who continues to patiently wait to see me show up in church, which doesn't happen as often as I'd like due to all the hours I'm putting in these days.

Peachey, an old friend from high school who I joke with about all the quotes she posts on her Facebook, outta get a kick out of seeing me quote someone else.

Rep. Nathan Ballentine looks at judicial elections

Recent news media coverage has drawn some attention to the state's process of selecting and appointing judges:

One of South Carolina’s top lawmakers said the state will postpone screening of judge candidates until the state Supreme Court settles legal questions about the process.

The move is the most recent fallout from the controversy swirling around the reappointment of 9th Circuit Family Court Judge F.P. “Charlie” Segars-Andrews.

Richland County Rep. Nathan Ballentine, via his blogsite, shares some of his observations on the judicial selection process with his readers:

State Senate Bill 1068 requires Utilities and Contractors to put Safety First in South Carolina

Underground utilities may not sound like an exciting issue - until you've hit one, costing money, possibly causing service outages, and if you're not lucky, blowing up a large area.

That's what could easily happen with the state's existing laws, which were enacted in 1978 - and have not been updated since.

The "Call Before You Dig" 811 system is a nice idea, but it won't protect you because, unlike most states in the country, calling that service does NOT mean utilities will be notified.  That means if you call, they may not mark, and if they fail to respond, or mark improperly or inaccurately, there is NOBODY under S.C. law who can hold them accountable.

How does THAT make you feel?

State of the State tonight

It's that time of the year again - when Mark Sanford goes into his office, drops some LSD, and emerges to give us ... the annual State of the State address.

We're not sure what we're going to hear, but we suspect it will be of little use and no relevance whatsoever. It's too late for him to turn this sad state of affairs around.

We'd love to hear some real apologies to the people of the state for making them international laughingstocks, as well as to those in state government who were at the receiving end of the many personal attacks and misrepresentations launched by his willing stooges over the last seven years. Then we'd like for him to quit, turn himself into the cops for abusing state government resources, move to Argentina, or allow the mother ship to take him back to the home planet. Whichever works for him is fine with us.

But in his mind, he's done nothing wrong, so we won't get so lucky tonight.

Since we can't give you that, we'll give Brian McCarty at Voting Under The Influence props for Top 9 things you likely will not hear Governor Sanford say in his State of the State Address.

A "Marshall Plan" approach to Haitian assistance?

Over much of the last century, American forces and dollars have been sent to bail out Haiti many times, only to find the nation stuck where it was a century ago - corrupt, inpoverished and unable to function without regular help and/or intervention by outside entities.

Following the recent massive earthquake, Haiti has all but ceased to exist as a nation. A nation which, in good times, barely functioned and required UN peacekeepers to keep order, has become - in effect - America's 51st state with a flood of American forces and generosity while much of its own leadership is dead, missing, or laying low.

While the scope of the current crisis is bigger than past ones, the deep-rooted issues remain unchanged: natural disasters which overwhelm its feeble infrastructure, a long tradition of rampant corruption and brutal Third World poverty. Just like European wars of years past often reached America's shores, the problems of Haiti have often boiled over, so ignoring them is not a practical option.

SENATOR Scott Brown

Here's some Change We Can Believe In;


Palmetto State Republicans fuel Mass Hysteria for Scott Brown

With Massachusetts voters going to the polls on Tuesday, the race for the Senate seat once held by Ted Kennedy has devolved into a quagmire for once-confident Democrats. This state, one of the most Democratic in the nation, has become a national battleground as Republican Scott Brown has built a strong coalition behind his Senate candidacy, boasting overwhelming support from Republicans and Independents, as well as many rank-and-file labor union members and Democrats.

National observers have declared the race a toss-up and many polls are showing Brown creeping into the lead in recent days, in spite of a late barrage of vicious and personal attacks by Democrats.

While the Obama team made a last-minute decision to try to salvage the situation with a flurry of last-minute appearances by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton (seeing the Clintons having to come bail Obama’s agenda out is rather ironic), they’re not the only ones rushing to this fight. Numerous South Carolina Republicans are engaging in all-out efforts to support Brown’s surging campaign efforts, including

Are you helping elect Scott Brown?

As the days count down to Tuesday's Senate special election in Massachusetts, and polls continue to point towards the possibility of an upset victory by Republican Scott Brown, we'd like to give Blogland readers another good reason why we need Scott Brown in the U.S. Senate: Massachusetts law enforcement leaders are backing him:

Did you know you can help by making phone calls from your home, even from South Carolina?


Visit his website - CLICK HERE - to join the team.

Responding to Pat Robertson

In watching the unfolding disaster in Haiti, it's amazing that somewhere so close to the United States could go through such a disaster. For some, it's bound to make us wonder if we could face the same thing here. Especially since the Charleston metropolitian area is seismic ground zero for the eastern half of the United States, with the grim calamity of the Great Charleston Quake of the late 1800s as proof of what could happen.

A lot of us hope and pray that it's not as bad as it seems, but when even the Presidential palace and Parliament building have collapsed, the dead includes people as prominent as the nation's Catholic Archbishop, it's hard to imagine that it's not going to be as bad as initial reports are suggesting. In addition to the massive loss of life, the nation of Haiti may have, for all practical purposes, ceased to exist as a functioning nation or society for the forseeable future. This will likely have major long-lasting consequences for those in Haiti, as well as through the rest of the region.

Then we get Pat Robertson, who blamed gay and lesbian Americans as one of the reasons for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, offers his own thoughts about what happened and why. According to CNN:

Robertson, the host of the "700 Club," blamed the tragedy on something that "happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it."

The Haitians "were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever," Robertson said on his broadcast Wednesday. "And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.' True story. And so, the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' "

As someone who was raised Baptist, but later crossed over to become Catholic, I respect Protestants. including Evangelicals and Fundamentialists, even if I have come to see faith a little differently. I have no doubt that many are as puzzled as I am about what was said.

I have to thank a friend of mine for sharing a blog posting that looks at what was said, and expresses his own view of faith. Part of it stood out, as it is some of how my faith works for me:

Faith in Christ, for me, is similar. It’s intimate. I’m more comfortable giving quiet prayers, intimate prayers. Often alone, in fact. I speak of faith the way I speak of personal matters. Of course there is a time for proclamations, but that’s the key, isn’t it? There’s a time. And a prayer isn’t a proclamation, it’s a prayer! It’s sometimes annoying to hear a prayer that is actually a sermon disguised as a prayer. I always picture God standing there listening, confused, asking the guy praying whether he was talking to Him or somebody else.

These seem to be good things to keep in mind. As we head into the weekend, let us keep the people of Haiti - and each other - in our thoughts and prayers, private, personal, and otherwise.

Carolinas AGC Legislative Reception - February 3

Like the calendar girl is suggesting ... it's that time of year again - the annual Carolinas AGC legislative reception will be held on Wednesday, February 3.

This is a great opportunity for legislators to unwind a bit after session and touch base with people in the state's construction industry, so we're hoping to see a lot of legislators and staff there.

Of course, the Blogland will be there, so you don't want to miss the occasion.

That's Wednesday, February 3 from 6 to 8 pm at the Koger Center, right across from the State House. Mark your calendar and come join us.

At the State House today

It was a long day at the State House, talking about a couple of issues important to the Blogland - and the people of South Carolina - with a lot of legislators.

As always, it was great to see all the friendly folks - and its always funny to see people who should hate yours truly for past stories, but never stop to think that this long-haired, casually-dressed type was the trouble-making author of the Blogland.

A lot of people deserve thanks for their hospitality today, as well as their willingess to discuss these issues. We won't go into details as to what we talked about, or who with, but they know.

We'd have gotten to more Senators today, but with the late filibuster in the Senate, it just wasn't in the cards. For those who couldn't make their appointments, no problem. For those staffers who did their best to accomoodate us, thanks!

Of course, January is "hunting season", where college board and judicial candidates swarm the State House, seeking appointments or re-appointments. We got to talk with a few of them as well (but a lot of them have no interest in someone who is not a legislator and some are quite rude about it) today, and we appreciate their willingness to talk, but as the photo above shows, some legislators are begging for mercy.

Which we've talked about before.

The one we saw around the most was Maite Murphy, eagerly working for at At-Large Circuit Court seat.

More on those issues we've discussed soon ...

Dems get desperate in Massachusetts Senate special election

With an increasing number of polls showing a looming upset in next week's Massachusetts Senate special election, the Democrats have stopped ignoring Republican Scott Brown's candidacy and gone on the attack, launching the first negative ad in the campaign:

Brown has remained upbeat, responding with positive response:

Calling Ms. Coakley’s opponent, State Senator Scott Brown, “a Republican in lockstep with Washington Republicans,” the ad flashes photos of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove and warns that Mr. Brown favors tax cuts for the wealthy.

Ms. Coakley’s ad seeks to shore up a natural base for her – women voters – and also points to Mr. Brown’s support in 2005 of an amendment to a state bill on emergency contraception that would have let doctors or nurses deny such contraception to rape victims based on religious objections.

The amendment failed, but Mr. Brown ultimately voted for the broader bill, which required emergency rooms to provide rape victims with the morning-after pill.

Mr. Brown’s college-age daughters held a news conference Tuesday to emphasize that he had, in fact, supported the final bill (click here to see the story).

In a new advertisement of his own, Mr. Brown said Ms. Coakley’s “attack ads are wrong and go too far” and hit on his signature theme: Massachusetts needs fresh blood — i.e. a Republican — in Congress.

“I’m running in the name of every independent-thinking voter to take on the political machine and their candidate,” he says in the commercial.

There's probably a good reason why the Boston Herald endorsed Brown over Coakley, telling readers:

If you love what’s going on in Washington, well, then by all means vote for Martha Coakley. She’s a perfectly nice person, and she won’t make a dime’s worth of difference in the balance of power in Washington.

But if you’re not happy with the status quo, if you think the way business is being conducted on Capitol Hill today is a disgrace and an affront to taxpayers, then you probably agree it’s time for a change.

Scott Brown can single-handedly deliver on that kind of change and the Herald is pleased to endorse his candidacy in the race for U.S. Senate.

If you've got friends in Massachusetts, call them and get them out to vote for Scott Brown. Send the Democrats a hell of a wake-up call and don't let these kind of tactics succeed in misleading and scaring voters.

Want to help? The Blogland is encouraging our readers to sign up for his campaign's appeal to make phone calls from home - which you can do from any phone, anywhere. Visit his website - CLICK HERE - to join the team.

Mark your Calendar: Lieutenant Governor candidates Debate - Spartanburg, Jan. 21

We wanted to share this with our readers and encourage them to mark their calendars for this event. Our hats are off to the event organizers for the hard work that comes with planning and organizing this kind of an event!
(Spartanburg, SC – January 11, 2010) The College Republicans from Wofford College and the Young Republicans from Spartanburg County are teaming up to host a debate between the three Republican candidates for Lieutenant Governor, Ken Ard, Bill Connor and Tim Scott.

The event will be held at 7:30pm on January 21, 2010. WORD’s Bobby McLain will moderate the event which will be held in Leonard Auditorium which is inside the Main Building on the Wofford College Campus. Entrance to the event is free and a limited number of sponsorships are available. Sponsors will be recognized in the program and have priority seating at the event.

For directions to the Wofford College and the Leonard Auditorium, please visit  Please contact Ron Jolly at or Brent Troxell at for more information.

Southern legislative battles ahead in 2010 and 2011

With little exception, the political landscape of South Carolina in 2010 is shaping up to be much like 2006: Republicans continue to dominate in the absence of broad Democratic oppositon. Elsewhere across the South, the overall picture is not much different, with the GOP holding the majority of gubernatorial and congressional offices in the region.

While Republicans will likely extend their overall political dominance of the South, recovering ground lost in the last two election cycles, the political fireworks will be rather intense in some areas. In addition to races for a handful of contested U.S. Senate and House seats, desires by both parties to strengthen their hand in the upcoming 2011 reapportionment process will intensify efforts to fight over control of legislative chambers.

One can also expect fireworks as both parties battle for control of Southern legislative chambers.  The GOP holds a slight lead with 13 chambers to 11 for the Democrats.  Going into 2010, five legislative chambers in the South will likely be the focus of considerable efforts to hold them, or upset majorites - three held by Republicans and two by Democrats:

NORTH CAROLINA HOUSE & SENATE: In the 1994, NC Republicans had a great year, taking the House and almost the Senate. They lost the House four years later, and have been on the outs since. The Democrats hold the Senate by six seats (30-20) and the House by nine (68-52). While GOP Presidential candidates have regularly won North Carolina, Republicans in NC have shown the ability to lose a lot of races, having lost four U.S. House seats since the mid-90s, a Senate seat they held since 1972, and haven't held the Governor's office since 1992. To hold on, the Democrats need a good year or for Republicans to - once more - screw up a good opportunity.  Republicans have to get a good year and get smart - not things they're very good at doing.

TENNESSEE HOUSE & SENATE: In 2008, the GOP bucked the national Democratic wave in Tennesse, seizing control of the Senate (19-14) and House (51-48). This state has generally gone for GOP candidates for President since Eisenhower and not gone for a Democratic Senate candidate since the 1980s, as well as seen two incumbent House Dems bail on their seats, so there's a lot to say that the GOP will hold - and probably build - their majority. But there are also a lot of Dems who will be eager to get back on top, and such slender majorities will probably encourage them to give it a shot.

TEXAS HOUSE: Republicans fought against heavily gerrymandered districts for decades and finally toppled Democratic rule in the Texas legislature several years ago, but the Democrats had really good years in 2006 and 2008, closing much of the gap in the Texas House (73D-77R). While Democrats will likely be motivated to snatch up the House, it's not likely 2010 will be the kind of year they need to win control. Expect both sides to go all-out as Democrats seek to take the House and Republicans work to rebuild their once-comfortable majority lead.

Next year, look for Democrats on the defense in all three Deep South states with off-year legislative elections:  both House and Senate in Louisiana (Senate 22D-15R & House 52D-50R-3I), the Mississipi Senate (27D-25R), and the Virigina Senate (21D-19R).

Bill Connor didn't file his campaign disclosure?

Last fall, yours truly got a call from a Bill Connor campaign operative - who didn't identify himself as being one - trying to convince me there was a major ethical crisis because two other Lt. Governor candidates - Ken Ard and Ralph Norman (who later dropped to run for a State House seat) because they had not filed a disclosure.

One has to chuckle at the irony that the latest filing deadline passed with no filing from the Connor campaign. After seeing the initial report on the Palmetto Scoop website, we went to make sure, and as shown in the screen capture from the S.C. Ethics Commission website, no filing from the Connor campaign.

To be fair, we looked and didn't see any filings from the other two candidates - Ken Ard or Tim Scott - either.

Not that we think this is a major problem so early in the campaign, as much of the money raising and spending has yet to take place, but the irony of failing to their own standard on campaign filings is amusing. Especially on a Monday.

Handcuffs Harrington strikes again

A Charleston County jury on Thursday took less than four hours to convict Jeffrey M. Herrmann, 28, of murdering Sarhan with a handgun in the summer of 2000. Following a three-day trial, Circuit Judge Kristi Harrington sentenced Herrmann to 45 years behind bars.

The strange turn of events was viewed as remarkable around the courthouse because a minor traffic offense of driving on a suspended license helped solve a murder.

Three day for the trial, four hours to reach a verdict and the trash is off the streets for good. Efficient and quite final. We like a judge like this and need we need more like her.

But we'd love to see her give a sentence which includes that famous line from Cool Hand Luke - "What we've got here is failure to communicate":

Spartanburg GOP breakfast club meeting this Saturday

This is from Rick Beltram's Piedmont Republican Club about their upcoming breakfast event:

Our January meeting will be on Saturday January 16th at 10AM at The Beacon.

Barry Wynn, former SCGOP Chairman, will speak about the 2010 Election preview.
Dr. Brent Nelson, candidate for Supt. of Education

This meeting is open to the public and is FREE. Please arrive early if you choose to order breakfast. Note: all candidates and guests will feel welcome. No purity test is required!
For more information , please call Rick Beltram (864-582-1717)

Nettie Britts update: Benefit in Greenville - Sat. Feb 6

Since last summer, we've been updating Blogland readers on the progress of one of our readers - Midlands GOP activist and USC student Nettie Britts, who was attacked and darn near died by some thug who remains at large.

While we won't be happy until the punk pays dearly (or better yet gets shot resisting arrest), we're pleased to announce that Republicans from across the state are coming together for an evening to raise money to help pay her medical bills.

This benefit was organized by the Dean Allen for Adjutant General campaign, and will be held on the occasion of Ronald Reagan's birthday:

We are hosting a Reception & Dance February 6, 2010
Ronald Reagan's 98th Birthday
Cocktails 6:30 - 7:30 (Cash Bar)
Heavy Hors D'Oeuvres
Silent Auction
Black Tie Optional
Ballroom Dance Music by National Champion Phil Nolan

Augusta Manor
1004 Augusta Street Greenville, South Carolina 29605

This is a Benefit for Ms. Nettie Britts, President Richland County Young Republicans

Tickets: $25 per Person
Sponsorship $200

Sponsors Include:

  • Dr. Christina Jeffrey, Candidate for US Congress District 4
  • Mr. Dean Allen, Candidate for Adjutant General
  • Mr. Robert Bolchoz, Candidate for Attorney General
  • Sen. Larry Grooms, Candidate for Governor
  • LTC Bill Connor, Candidate for Lt. Governor
  • Commissioner Ken Ard, Candidate for Lt. Governor
  • Rep. Eric Bedingfield
  • Ms. Kelly Payne, Candidate for State Superintendent of Education
  • Ms. Sharon Wells
  • Mr. Phil Nolan
  • *Others will be added

    R.S.V.P. & make checks payable to:

    Attn: Dean Allen
    8 Rutledge Avenue Greenville, SC 29617

They're also soliciting donations for the silent auction. Even if you can't make it, please consider donating prizes and/or cash for this event. As my birthday will be the day before, I'm asking the Blogland's readers to make my birthday a good one by helping rally behind one of our fellow Republicans.

GOP takeover of Mass. Senate seat in the making?

The last time the GOP won a Senate race in Massachusetts was 1972. While former GOP Governors Bill Weld and Mitt Romney both waged aggressive challenges for Senate seats in the 1990s, they both lost by double-digit margins.

In the race for the Senate seat vacated by the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, polling by Rasmussen suggests the GOP nomimee, State Senator Scott Brown, is closing the gap with Democratic state Attorney General Martha Coakley:

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in the state finds Coakley ahead of Brown 50% to 41%. One percent (1%) prefer some other candidate, and seven percent (7%) are undecided.

While this polling suggests a closer than usual race, other findings from the survey suggest an upset could be in the making, as many voters seem far more positive about Brown's candidacy:

Both candidates get better than 70% of the vote from members of their respective parties, but Brown leads 65% to 21% among voters not affiliated with either of the major parties ...

Twenty-one percent (21%) of those likely to vote in the special election have a very favorable opinion of Coakley, while 22% have a Very Unfavorable view.

For Brown, the numbers are 25% very favorable and 5% very unfavorable.

... among those who are absolutely certain they will vote, Brown pulls to within two points of Coakley. That suggests a very low turnout will help the Republican and a higher turnout is better for the Democrat.

While election history suggests the Democrats still have the edge, it's worth noting that in one of the bluest states in the nation, the GOP won four of the last five gubernatorial elections, and the one Democrat who won faces bleak prospects for re-election this year.

Considering the major upset scored by the GOP in the recent gubernatorial contest in New Jersey, another tough northeastern state for Republicans where independents broke heavily for the Republican candidate late in the race, it wouldn't be the first upset scored in the region by Republicans.

With numbers suggesting an unusually close race for this Senate seat, don't count out another late upset by the GOP.

(Not surprisingly, the Blogland is pulling for Scott Brown - go visit his website)

Brown retirement re-shuffles 1st CD deck

Last night's news of Congressman Henry Brown's retirement caught South Carolina politicos by surprise. While there were those who wondered if Brown would seek another term after his close race in 2008, initial indications were that he was committed to running

Concerns that Brown was vulnerable to a Democratic upset following his close 2008 race faded as first-tier potential challengers passed on the race and GOP voter enthusiasm rallied. With these fading concerns, several Republicans who had been looking at the race opted to wait for a possible Brown retirement in 2012.

Today's announcment will change the race radically, with a number of established politicos from across the district eyeing entering the race. Based on a number of conversations we've had before and after Brown's announcement, a lot of names have been floated. Here are some of the potential entrants who we feel have the best shots at being competitive for this race:

  • Sen. Chip Campsen, Mount Pleasant: This guy is no stranger to tough races. His first bid for office almost toppled a State House incumbent in 1994, convincing the incumbent to leave, allowing Campsen to take the Mount Pleasant seat unopposed two years later. He left the House, only to come back and oust Sen. John Kuhn in 2004.

  • Rep. Alan Clemmons, Myrtle Beach: Well-known as one of the biggest money-raisers in the State House, he's been in the House since 2002. Well-liked, he's known for being a dynamo in the House and well-visible in the Grand Strand.

  • Rep. Jim Merrill, Daniel Island: In 2000, Merrill ran for, and won, Henry Brown's State House seat and just stepped down as House Majority Leader. As Merrill was one of the architects of Governor Sanford's suprise Congressional win in 1994, he's no stranger to Lowcountry politics. The guy is photogenic, cheerful and knows how to get a message across.

  • Rep. Chip Limehouse, Charleston: Representing downtown Charleston and part of Mt. Pleasant since 1994, Limehouse knows Lowcountry politics well and has built a strong political base in the heart of the 1st District. Many of his friends are regular major donors, and he's shown proven fundraising power in the past.

  • Sen. Luke Rankin, Myrtle Beach: He's been in the Senate since the 90s from Horry County, switching to the GOP several years ago. He has weathered numerous challenges over the years, and he's no slouch at raising money either.

  • Rep. Thad Viers, Myrtle Beach: When District 68 was moved from Sumter County to Horry County in 2002, Viers snatched up the seat. Prior to that, he built up a considerable resume in Grand Strand and statewide politics. Young, single, and with time on his hands, this Myrtle Beach attorney would be a hard worker.
Another factor that could encourage a broader fielding of candidates is a "Consolation Prize" scenario. As it is expected that the First will be split to create a new Seventh District in 2012, a candidate who was able to make a strong second-place finish for the nomination could be a favorite for a bid for the open Seventh in 2012. This scenario would require the 2010 race to be driven largely by a Lowcountry vs. Grand Strand dynamic, and for the second-place finisher to be in the part of this district which did not prevail in such a match.

But if the field of candidates for this seat becomes much larger than the current three in the wake of Brown's announcement, then the chances for a single candidate to become a strong regional favorite aren't good.

Mark Fava's withdrawal from the race on Saturday made it look like a Henry Brown vs. Tumpy Campbell bid, which would have been well-suited since much of Campbell's message was based on running against Brown. Without Brown to run against, Campbell will have two challenges: retool his campaign messages to compete for an open seat, and be ready to compete against some candidates with political resumes and proven vote-getting ability.

The bottom line: this week's race for the First looks nothing like last week's, and one should expect that a lot of big changes are yet to come.

Stay tuned.

335 postings in 365 days: A look back at 2009

2009 was a busy, busy year in the Blogland. Not as busy as the year past, as it was an off-year and there was a lot of other things going on, but we thought we'd look back at some of the Blogland's more notable moments:

The Inside Interview series was busy this year, featuring House Speaker Bobby Harrell, Senators Tom Davis and Larry Martin, Representatives Boyd Brown, Anton Gunn and Murrell Smith and state judicial candidates Deborah Brooks Durden and Maite Murphy. Look for more of these looks inside Palmetto State government in the new year.

We challenged the GOP to get serious about its long under-supported minority development efforts.

As yours truly works in the human resources field, ongoing discussions about workplace immigration crackdowns and
E-verify came up throughout the year.

While the Governor's crowd couldn't get it right about the ESC and Workforce Boards, we still talked about it and
invited legislators to breakfast with the Trident Workforce Board to get the straight scoop.

We were able to separate the smart from the stupid, based on which politicos actually took the Earl Capps for SCGOP Chair campaign seriously. But it was quite flattering to win a readers' poll 300-79.

All three County GOP Chair candidates endorsed by the Blogland -
Tim Callanan in Berkeley, Moye Graham in Clarendon, and LaDonna Ryggs in Spartanburg - won handily.

In July, the Blogland uncovered a series of potential scandals in state politics, telling you things no other blog or website would dare touch. Later that month, I risked unleasing some skeletons of my own when I attended the 20th reunion of the James Island High School Class of 1989 - but everyone was nice and forgiving there.

The Blogland paid tribute to John Hughes, the movie producer who best captured the 80s.

Richard Eckstrom was the first 2010 endorsement.

In addition to my teaching work, I did a guest lecturing stint at UNC-Greensboro, another with Kelly Payne's "IT Kids" at Dutch Fork High School, and taught communication development classes at the SCFRW convention.

We busted Jim Rex using state email to conduct his gubernatorial campaign, and reminded our readers that one of his big supporters was making another bid for Superintendent of Education - as a Republican?

There were a lot more moments that took place over the last year, and Blogland readers were right there - and we appreciate all of you who tuned in. Here's to hoping the Blogland continues to deliver in 2010.

Joe Wilson - the Blogland's Righteous Dude of the Year

Aside from the Mark Sanford mess, few moments or individuals in South Carolina politics managed to get much of the spotlight in 2009, especially in a positive manner.

When the Blogland asked around about someone who did something effective in 2009, the two names that we kept hearing were "Boeing" and "Joe Wilson".

While we believe the Boeing decision will one day rank along with BMW and the creation of Santee-Cooper as one of the biggest economic tranformers of modern-day South Carolina, that potential has yet to be realized. As such, Joe Wilson is the hands-down winner of the Blogland's "Righteous Dude" recognition for 2009, for his proven ability to acheive success in super-charging his 2010 re-election bid with two words: "You Lie".

The impact of this incident upon fundraising for both Wilson and Rob Miller, his probable Democratic challenger, was quite profund as millions of dollars of donations poured into both campaigns. When the fall FEC disclosures were filed,
Wilson won the fundraising race, with about 2.7 million raised to Miller's 1.7 million.

While three of the other four S.C. House members seeking re-election face tough fights - Henry Brown, Bob Inglis, and John Spratt - Wilson ends 2009 in what seems a solid position: a million dollar fundraising lead over his challenger, reports of continued strong fundraising success, his district's Republican lean boosted by a rising tide of GOP support, as well as his new role as a sought-after fundraiser for other Republicans around the country. While opinions are mixed over Wilson's outburst, the outcome of the controversy seems to have been a net gain for his profile in state politics.

For this, Joe Wilson is the Blogland's Righteous Dude of the Year for 2009.

For a comparative measure of what is considered respective legislative conduct, we'd like to show two clips. First, Joe Wilson's "You Lie" statement, and then a short bit of a recent Prime Minister's Questions session from British parliament. In comparing them, Wilson doesn't look quite as bad: