This year's race for Governor has taken many twists and turns as candidates have come and gone, in the shadow of the ongoing slow-motion wreckage of the current gubernatorial administration.
In making an endorsement in this year's GOP race, it was decided that instead of telling you who to vote for, we'll share our concerns and positions relative to this race, and let you decide which candidate should carry the Republican Party's banner this fall.
Our readers are usually pretty smart people, well-informed and capable of making their own minds up, so instead of telling you who's good or bad, right or wrong, extreme or RINO, or whatever else other people will say, we're going to let YOU decided who to vote for on your own.
So what's important to us in the Governor's race?
Important lessons should have been learned from the failure of Governor Sanford to lead the state. While he promised a new start after four years of mismanagement and gridlock under Governor Jim Hodges, his poor leadership style took the state to new lows, making South Carolinians even more cynical about state government and dividing the Republican Party against itself. So here's what we'd like to see, and why:
Mark Sanford's failure to work with the legislature made it impossible to enact many reforms in state government, including more restructuring and reining in the state's budget. Instead of leading a pro-active effort to fix problems, his poor legislative relations meant reforms were adopted in a piecemeal and re-active manner. State agencies targeted for restructuring, such as the Employment Security Commission, were addressed in a limited manner and only after major scandals erupted within those agencies. Financial restratints were not adopted until a major recession forced major cuts, and those cuts were similarly piecemeal.
The next Governor must be able to work with legislators to quickly advance restructuring and reform our state's budget process.
Sanford's poor executive leadership style wasn't noticed by many until he disappeared for several days to go to Argentina, but for the agencies under his control, he had been AWOL long before then. The most notable agency lacking effective gubernatorial oversight has been Department of Social Services, but other agencies also suffered for lack of leadership from the current Governor.
The next Governor must be ready to exercise firm oversight of the agencies under his/her control and create a vision for excellence.
Sanford began his tenure calling for more openness in state government, including campaign finance reform. He soon made a deal with out-of-state secretive political groups who acted in a manner not much different than the video poker barons, and began taking a number of personal foreign trips at taxpayer's expense.
The next Governor should believe that nobody is above both the letter and intent of state laws and promote higher standards for governmental and campaign transparency, as well as not sell out to special interest groups or out-of-state political operatives.
As South Carolina has long over-relied upon jobs at the bottom of the wage and skill levels, it is likely the recovery will be longer in coming than in other places. While the use of incentives to attract industry still has some value, their ability to attract companies to this state are losing effectiveness. It’s important to recognize that every break for a new company places a greater burden upon existing businesses and families. Further, efforts to cut deals to attract low-wage jobs often overlook the costs associated of government assistance for those earning the low wages, most notably food stamps, Medicaid, child care vouchers, and housing assistance.
The long-term answer lies in offering value to companies, not simply buying them off with incentives paid for by those individuals and businesses which are already here. This requires us to look at how this state trains and retrains workers, creating value which can attract jobs instead of using costly incentives.
Workforce investment should be confused with K-12 public education. Statistical data suggests that we are largely at the point of diminishing returns with additional spending on K-12 education. Current cuts to K-12 funding should be restored only to those programs which can be justifed on a means-tested basis. Along with this, funding for higher and technical education should be priorities, as should early childhood efforts, and school choice initiatives, including charter and private school options, should allow families to select the most suitable choices from kingergarten through college.
A much-controversial point raised by current Lt. Governor Andre Bauer hits a valid concern – we are seeing a growing problem associated with long-term dependency upon programs which were intended to offer short-term benefits. We should expect those on public assistance to take responsibility for their lives, and work to ensure their children are not stuck in the cycle of dependency.
Our next Governor should work to ensure this state creates opportunities for a sustainable future, while expecting individuals to take responsibility for their futures – as well as the future of a state as a whole. However, these efforts should be closely watched with an expectation of results so taxpayers are not forced to subsidize cultural and bureaucratic failure, and the next Governor should be the watchdog to ensure these efforts produce results.
Of course, political viability is important, as the GOP nominee must face the winner of the Democratic primary before taking office in January. Therefore this candidate should have the ability to appeal to a wide range of voters and convincingly present the best agenda to voters this fall.
We ask our readers to consider these concerns in deciding who to vote for in the upcoming GOP primary for Governor and hope they choose wisely.