In the race for Comptroller General, the differences couldn't be clearer. Voters can choose between an innovative financial leader and proven fiscal conservative with a long record of public service and a perennial candidate who has dabbled in lots of things, including lobbying for questionable organizations, and shown a less impressive record of public service.
Richard Eckstrom, the Republican incumbent, is the Blogland’s choice for a lot of good reasons. A CPA who has served a term as Treasurer and two as Comptroller, he’s learned a lot about governmental finances, and put that knowledge to work in a number of initiatives, most notably in the online check registers which have opened up state and local government finances to the public. His continuing record of military service is also commendable as he is one of the highest-ranking officers serving in the South Carolina State Guard.
Eckstrom has been a thoughtful and deliberate teambuilder, picking battles and promoting ideas based upon their importance, not upon winning votes. He has won over the support of public officials from both parties for his initiatives, as well as stood up to his own party in the legislature over the budget.
His opponent, Robert Barber, is an attorney and restaurant owner who is making yet another attempt at a political comeback. He won his last election – for a State House seat – in 1992. He lost a race for Congress in 1994 and a race for Lt. Governor in 2006. In the course of his political bids, he’s been a sort of chameleon, changing his resume and image to suit voters. Most concerning is how he has downplayed his role as a lobbyist, including working for interests seeking to re-legalize the brutal sport of cockfighting. With his lack of candor and his questionable associations, it would be like letting a fox guard the henhouse of South Carolina’s finances.
As his office oversees the state’s finances, so issues of financial managerial ability, trust and honesty matter. Whoever holds this office has a pretty big responsibility, so they should be ready and qualified for the job. When comparing the choices in the Comptroller race, Eckstrom is the only candidate voters can afford to trust with such a serious responsibility.