GOP Southern gains continue

This month, the GOP has taken down two more Southern legislative chambers, taking control of the Senates in Louisiana and Mississppi. This leaves the Democrats in control of only five of 28 Southern and Border State legislative chambers: both Houses in Arkansas, the Houses in Kentucky and Mississippi and the Virginia Senate.

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell also joined the GOP earlier this month, giving the GOP complete control of the statewide offices in yet another Southern state. This is on the heels of last year's elections, where the GOP won all but one contested statewide race in the South.

The remaining Democratic legislative majorities are slim ones:

Greg Gregory wins Senate special primary election outright

All precincts in - former State Senator Greg Gregory wins GOP nod for his old Senate seat with 57 percent of the vote, setting the stage for a special general election contest in six weeks against what is expected to be token Democratic and Libertarian opposition.

Rep. McCoy: Mandatory minimums for those who attack cops

House 115 Rep. Peter McCoy, well-known for helping give a now-former Representative time to attend AA meetings and crash events uninvited, is taking on those who attack cops.

McCoy's bill, H3517, would establish a minimum sentence of fifteen years for anyone who is convicted of the act of trying to kill a law enforcement officer. A former prosecutor with the 9th Circuit Solicitor's office, he decided to push this bill forward motivation for this bill came from the recent shooting of Charleston County Sheriff Deputy Jeffrey DeGrow whom was shot while chasing suspected burglars on James Island.

Deputy DeGrow was supportive of McCoy's bill:

Criminals who commit such crimes are not afraid of the consequences because the penalties are not tough enough. I believe Rep. McCoy's bill will make them think twice before committing a crime against law enforcement.

Day of mourning announced for Leslie Hope

One of the hardest-working governmental affairs types in Columbia is coping with a tragic event today and we ask our readers to take a moment to reach out to her on this occasion.

Leslie Hope turns 32 today.

Seriously folks, be sure to wish her a Happy Birthday today.

Senate special election candidate's residency questioned

Rob McCoy, a Republican candidate in the Tuesday GOP primary to fill the State Senate seat being vacated by Congressman Mick Mulvaney, is under fire with questions about his residency.

Last year, he was the GOP challenger to Democratic State Rep. Jimmy Neal, as a resident of Senate District 27, which is represented by Democratic Senator Vincent Sheheen. When he filed for the Senate special election, he claimed a new residence farther north in District 16. The above image shows the locations of residences he claimed for both races, with the lower location being the one he used for last year's House candidacy.

A news story by Rock Hill Cable News Two delved into the residency questions, reportedly after several legislators questioned McCoy's residency. In the story, they visited the two addresses and talked with those who live near McCoy's claimed residence. Those living near McCoy's claimed address for his Senate race report never having seen anyone in the home since the last residents moved out back in December.

Dem backlash over House 64 primary vote?

The Blogland has received several reports of threats, some of the obscene and angry, floating around Clarendon County in the wake of last Tuesday's upset defeat of Clarendon County Council Chair Dwight Stewart, a white Democrat, by Manning Mayor Kevin Johnson, a Democrat whose ancestors were brought from Africa in bondage (so no, he's not white, as if skin color matters).

Some of the threats revolved around articles published in the Blogland - for which we don't apologize.

One of those threats came in a phone call to yours truly, which was pretty funny. It's happened before, with some of the threats in considerable detail, but nobody's touched me yet. Threats which have included reporting about classroom locations and dismissal times, threats to get me fired, run out of state, etc.

But I'm still here, and I'm not going anywhere.

Today Kevin Bryant might lie to you

He may try to tell you he's turning 29 today. If he does that, don't believe him.

But do wish Kevin Bryant, a State Senator and pharmacist from Anderson who is also one of the state's first legislators to hit the blogosphere, a Happy Birthday today, however old he may be.

The man with the scissors

Jim DeMint, as seen through the eyes of Blogland guest cartoonist Jamie Walton:

House District 64 race and "Retrogression"

The few remaining white Democratic state House members in the Pee Dee region can't take comfort in yesterday's Democratic primary outcome in the House District 64 special election, where primary voters nominated a black Democrat who will face a GOP candidate in several weeks.

In the upcoming post-2010 reapportionment, Southern states face considerable pressure to avoid "retrogression", the reduction of the number majority-black election districts via reapportionment. With rural areas losing population and black voters gradually assimilating into majority-white communities, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ensure that the percentage of legislative districts with majority-black populations will roughly match the statewide black population percentage.

Since the 1980s, the number of majority-black legislative districts in South has grown several-fold, which went hand-in-hand with the rapid growth of the number of black legislators in the South over the last three decades. During this time, the GOP scored similar large gains of legislative seats, leaving the number of white Democrats in most Southern legislative chambers at or near single digits, their ranks caught in a crossfire between suburban districts turned Republican and rural majority-black districts taken over by black Democrats.

So how does the House District 64 special election play into this?

What do cows and karaoke have in common?

The answer: State Senate GOP leader Harvey Peeler.

Senator Peeler is raising campaign cash while giving audiences a taste of enternal damnation (isn't that what most karaoke events are like?) in a couple of weeks. We encourage our readers to check this event out:

2nd Annual KARAOKE EVENT with Senator Harvey Peeler

Tuesday, May 1, 2011 7:00 PM-9:00 PM
Clarion Hotel - Magnolia Room
1615 Gervais Street, Columbia, South Carolina

Contribution Levels: Gold Microphone $1,000, Silver Microphone $500, Bronze Microphone $250

RSVP guest names and song selections to
Elizabeth Donehue (843) 864-9414

House 64 special election field set: Johnson vs. Sanders

Based upon preliminary reports, both parties settled their primaries for House District 64 tonight.

A surprise first-round upset was scored in the Democratic primary by Manning Mayor Kevin Johnson. County Council Chairman Dwight Stewart, recruited by the local Democratic establishment and considered a sure bet, failed to even make it a run-off race.

Alvin Greene's comeback effort failed, leaving him free to focus on his 2012 Presidential bid.

Republicans nominated Sonny Sanders, a former senior staffer for former Second District Congressman Floyd Spence, who reportedly won easily over Derry Beard.

While Democrats are favored to hold the seat, GOP strategists were looking at getting involved in the race if Stewart lost the Democratic primary. Democrats who believed Stewart was the most electable candidate for the special general election made considerable efforts to head off a GOP primary, hoping to recruit those voters in a cross-over effort to help Stewart overcome a strong black voter turnout in the Democratic primary.

Mulvaney on the Obama budget: "I Can't Believe the Numbers"

This morning during a House Budget Committee hearing, Fifth District Congressman Mick Mulvaney ripped Jacob Lew, the White House Budget Director, a new one, challenging numerous assumptions made in the 2012 budget proposal from the Obama administration.

Thanks - a plenty!

If you've never been to the Beacon Drive-In, you've never really been to Spartanburg.

John White's restaurant isn't the nicest, newest place, but it's a place with great food and even better service, with a down-home - and loud - style you won't forget.

Another conspiracy theory in House #64 special election race

The story we're hearing in the race to fill the vacant House District 64 seat in Clarendon and Williamsburg Counties sounds a lot like what we've heard elsewhere in the Pee Dee: powerful insiders pulling strings to manufacture political scandals in order to stop those who threaten the local status quo.

In this race their target is Kevin Johnson, a Democratic candidate and the current Mayor of Manning, who informed local media of missing money in Manning's judicial accounts on Thursday:

Today, the City of Manning notified the Clarendon County Sheriff’s Office of its discovery that funds may have been mishandled in the City Judicial Department. Any time it appears that public funds may have been mishandled, it is the practice of the City of Manning to notify law enforcement and have the matter fully investigated.

Also, the City will conduct its own investigation to determine what happened and whether funds are unaccounted-for as a result of our recent discovery. As this matter may involve employment issues, the City is unable to release further details at this time.

Happy Valentine's Day?

We hope our readers have the kind of Valentine's Day they were hoping to have - whatever that may be (but please don't share any details or steamy emails as we really don't want to know).

Do something nice ... or don't (last time I sent anyone anything, I ended up getting a copy of her personal ad emailed to me, so I'm not sure what really works). But remember this - you can't get screwed over unless you get your hopes up and do really good things first.

Here are some tell-tale signs of trouble brewing that might tell you if you're going to have a bad day:
  • It's Christmas. You spend a couple hundred bucks on that person, but he/she gets you nothing, saying "you didn't tell me anything you wanted".
  • The personal ad emailed to you gets blamed on you.
  • They avoid any sort of touching, but say they really still love you.
  • Avoids talking about marriage or finds a way to shut the conversation down, but says "if I didn't want to get married, I wouldn't have held onto the wedding dress".
  • Responds to you asking about things that never get discussed with an immature "I didn't say I didn't want to" (but you never said you did).

These and other warning signs are out there - usually waiting on the good guys and gals to stumble upon and learn the hard way. Hopefully you won't be one of those people, especially today.

And in case you missed it, yesterday was Mistress Day, so if you didn't get that special other-someone something, you'd better hope he/she will still be around tomorrow or won't be knocking on your door to meet your spouse or main squeeze later today!

The South Carolina Twitter Caucus kicks off

If you're in the Midlands and want to learn more about how to use new media in broadening your communication outreach, you may want to check out Wesley Donehue's newest initiative: the South Carolina Twitter Caucus.

Even though the 2011 legislative session is still in its infancy, legislators of all types are running to us with their Internet needs. Everyone knows that the people expect their elected officials to have a robust web presence so that the lines of communication remain open at all times. And guess what? Social media is the king of modern communication.

For this reason, we are pumped to announce the first South Carolina Twitter Caucus! Due to the constant requests we receive from representatives, we decided to host a special breakfast/seminar at our office every other Wednesday at 8:00am. We will present unique Internet strategies that allow people to enhance their brand and gain a faithful following of "brand activists".

So if you find yourself near 1202 Main Street in downtown Columbia next Wednesday morning, please swing by our third floor office for some food, drinks and Internet fun.

Legislators considering "bypass" to implement redistricting and Voter ID?

When it comes to reapportionment, South Carolina Republicans almost have complete control of the game. But it's the one part they don't have control over that could end up being a critical stumbling block: preclearance by the Obama administration's U.S. Justice Department.

"Preclearance" is a process defined in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, most recently renewed under the Bush administration in 2006, which requires that certain specified states and localities submit election-related plans, such as election districts, voting laws and precinct locations, to the Justice Department for review. If these changes are not approved, elections can be postponed or action taken by the Justice Department. Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, nine southern states and a number of counties and municipalities are considered "covered jurisdictions" which must receive Justice Department approval of election law changes.

State Rep. Alan "Ferris Bueller" Clemmons, who chairs the House subcommittee overseeing redistricting, may be planning a bypass around the Justice Department:

We have been considering the option of seeking Voting Rights Act Section 5 approval of controversial voting issues like Voter ID and Redistricting through the Federal Courts for some time. The chief benefit of having such important issues heard by the court is that they will be considered more on legal merit and less through the political sieve of the Obama Administration.

This approach would use an exemption in the Voting Rights Act that would allow South Carolina to have its reapportionment plans, as well as voter ID legislation, reviewed by courts, allowing it to bypass the Obama administration.

Zais brings transparency to State Education Board meetings

State Superintendent of Education Superintendent Mick Zais has implemented a step for concerned parents and citizens to tune into how the state Department is being run with the addition of streaming video of State Board of Education meetings, which can be viewed on the Department's website.

Those who want to see the video broadcasts can tune into

Here's what Zais had to say about this new service:

Rep. Horne works to protect seniors

Elder abuse is a major problem in South Carolina. One of the biggest areas of risk is in-home care providers who use their access to homes, often unsupervised, to engage in a number of abusive and exploitative activities.  Dorchester County State Rep. Jenny Horne is working to address this problem with House Bill 3012, which would require those providing these services to be licensed care-givers.

Most occupations in the health care field from nursing assistants to doctors are regulated, with licensure and registration processes in place, including professional training and development, as well as background checks. But in South Carolina, in-home care providers who do not perform medical services are exempt from licensing and regulation. Presently 29 states have standards for licensure or certification for in-home care givers. These include much of the Southeast, including Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

Rep. Horne explained her concerns on this issue with the Blogland:

We won't tell you how old she is today

... because sources report she either paid us not to say, or threatened us into silence.

Either way, it's something that today's birthday girl and one of the most powerful politicos in Charleston County could do - Charleston County GOP Chair Lin Bennett.

Be sure to wish her a very happy birthday!

Analyze This

With a statement like this, we're not sure what to say, so talk amongst yourselves.

“Brothers won’t work hard like Mexicans will so we need to make sure enough Mexicans are here,”

- State Senator Robert Ford

Reining in school superintendent severance packages

The issue of school district superintendents being given hefty severance packages isn't just a problem here in South Carolina:

In 2007, the Wayne Township School Board and then-Superintendent Terry Thompson agreed to a renegotiated contract that provided a generous retirement package for whenever Thompson decided to step down.

But it wasn't until this month that board members realized just how lucrative that deal was, to the tune of more than $1 million.

-, 1/28/2011

In South Carolina, this will often happen when the balance of power shifts on a school board and members want to pay off a superintendent so they can quietly move their cronies into well-paying jobs. After all, it's easier to pull off a scam when nobody who knows is talking.

With such profiteering in a highly-politicized environment by school boards and administrators, it's hard to see who is looking out for the school children. But Florence State Representative Phillip Lowe is working to get the problem under control, filing House Bill 3297.

Rep. Pope's new legislative assistant

Meet Jacob Pope, who spent a day at the State House last week with his father, York County State Representative Tommy Pope:

Blocking Sharia Law or dodging voting records?

Recently, FITSNews felt the need to rake Senator Mike Fair over the coals for his efforts to keep Islamic law from being used in the United States:

Fair’s bill is the latest manifestation of the so-called “Sharia Law Ban” movement, which presumes that radical jihadists are seeking to supplant American law with Islamic law.

Obviously that isn’t happening … which makes this yet another example of South Carolina RINOs offering up imaginary bogeymen in an effort to prevent you from focusing on their abysmal fiscal records.

If you want to review the legislation for yourself, Senator Fair's legislation is Senate Bill 444, and there's a related House Bill (3490) on the matter, sponsored by Rep. Wendy Nanney (R-Greenville).

FITS alleges this effort is a smoke screen, but is it really? Let's look at some of these issues ...

Turning 40 ... with the 80s

Turning 40 today wasn't so bad with a little help from my friends from across South Carolina, as well as family, co-workers, students and faculty members. There I was, in an 80s throwback outfit: Rayban sunglasses, Members Only jacket, skinny tie and Vans checkerboard shoes, getting roasted by friends and family.

In another flashback to teenage days, the cops got called and three cars of guests were wrecked (and kudos to Congressman Tim Scott for keeping a rather upset elderly driver company for most of the time he was visiting at the event). But in this case, it wasn't the booze - just hydroplaning by cars driving by.

Here's two people in my life who made it out for the event My 12 year-old daughter Bonnie (on the right) and my nine year-old sister Kelly (on the left).

But wait, there's more. My oldest daughter Cecilia will be making me a grandparent in May or June.

Since the Dems are already taking cheap shots (no doubt mad at not getting invited to the party) at Scott for his attempt to sing Journey, may as well share the video of the performance:

Happy Birthday to me

Yours truly will be turning 40 tomorrow. We were warned this day was coming, but wow ... it's another when that day actually arrives.

But who says we have to grow up?

We'll be celebrating Blogland style all day and night long. Stay tuned for pics from the event - and possibly a request for bond money.

More inmates on Facebook and using phones?

Glenn Smith at the Post and Courier lets us see just how pervasive the problem of inmates using cell phones and other technology is with more news of inmates showing up online with a follow-up story on the issue:

Michael Jason Maxwell killed a Goose Creek man with a shotgun. Tony Enriquez took a teenager’s life for a pack of smokes. Tommie “Ricky” Tant shot up a man’s truck during a confrontation in North Charleston.

All are serving time in South Carolina prisons for their crimes. And all found a way to get around prison rules and communicate with folks on the outside through online social media.

Enriquez, serving life without parole for murder, chose Facebook to express himself, as did Tant, finishing a two-year stint for assault with intent to kill. Maxwell was more old-school, posting his profile on MySpace.

Too bad none of these guys write about the more sordid details of life in prison, which might actually serve as a deterrent to those in their social circles who are still outside of prison. But we guess nobody wants to brag about that stuff.

We're still waiting to see what the holdup is that keeps South Carolina from being allowed to implement cell phone jamming in our prisons. South Carolina is one of thirty-one states which have requested the ability to take this step.

Mark your calendar: 2/8, Senate special election candidates' forum

And a week after the one in Fort Mill, here's another candidates' forum for the GOP candidates seeking the Senate seat being vacated by Congressman Mick Mulvaney:

You are cordially invited to attend the Sun City Republican Club - Senate District 16 Candidate Forum at the Sun City Lake House in Indian Land On Tuesday, February 8th at 7:30 PM. This event is free and open to the public.

All candidates filed to run in the Republican Primary on February 22nd have confirmed their participation in this forum.

The Senate District 16 Republican Primary Candidates are: Brian Carnes (Indian Land); Greg Gregory (Lancaster); Rob McCoy (Lancaster); Wendy Petzle (Fort Mill); and Mike Short (Fort Mill).

Anne Hutto owes someone fifty bucks

Former State Representative Anne Peterson Hutto is becoming the new "Grey Ghost" of South Carolina politics, bee-bopping around at legislative events in Columbia as if she hadn't gotten her tail booted out of the General Assembly back in November.

Tonight, as she has reportedly been doing since the legislature resumed session without her, she attended several events in Columbia which were intended for legislators and staff members only, including the Carolinas AGC legislative reception:

CAGC invites South Carolina General Contractors, Specialty Contractors and Supplier/Service companies to attend and meet the SC Legislators and their staff members for heavy hors d'oeuvres and an open bar. This is a great networking opportunity! Please join us.

The website for this event says admission for non-members is $50. We're betting that she's not a Carolinas AGC member, and she's certainly not a legislator or legislative staff member, so maybe her check is in the mail.

But we're not holding our breath(alyzer) on this one.

Carolinas AGC Legislative Reception is TONIGHT!

While we hope you've marked your calendar already, the calendar girls are here to remind you one more time that the annual Carolinas AGC legislative reception will be held this evening from 6 to 8 pm at the Koger Center.

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.

Don't miss it!

Speaking of birthdays ...

Trey Walker, longtime S.C. politico and Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Haley, has a birthday today. If you know the guy, take a few minutes to wish him a happy birthday!

Turning 40?

According to reports from multiple sources, the editor/publisher/psycho of the Blogland will be turning 40 this month.

When asked for comment, Earl Capps admitted the allegations, confirming the date of said milestone would be reached this Saturday, February 5th.

Other reports about efforts to embarass the hell out of him for this occasion have been circulating, but nothing has been confirmed.