Mark your calendar: Sunday, Charleston - Tim Scott town hall featuring Jon Huntsman


First District Congressman Tim Scott is building on his growing reputation by working with local GOP and Tea Party organizations to bring Presidential candidates to the Lowcountry in a series of Town Hall style events.

The first Town Hall, featuring former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, will take place this Sunday - August 7th - Charles Towne Landing, beginning at 5 pm. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Other dates will be announced in the coming weeks, with Michele Bachmann scheduled to appear on August 25th.

The First in the South Presidential Town Hall Series will be cosponsored by the Berkeley, Charleston Dorchester, Georgetown and Horry County Republican Parties, the Charleston and Myrtle Beach Tea Party groups, along with the Mount Pleasant and Summerville 9-12 Project groups.

For more information on the Series, be sure to visit www.timstownhalls.com.

Atlantic Beach: Transparency dies here

The Grand Strand summer is getting a little hotter with a recent changing of power in Atlantic Beach, long known for hosting an annual Memorial Day weekend Bikefest which has been blamed for unleashing waves of crime across the entire Grand Strand. The town's last Mayor, Retha Pierce, has been accused of unleashing a crime wave of her own, with numerous arrests, one conviction and other charges pending.

Among the moves made by the new guard was the firing of the town's police department by a man who was once fired from the job of being the town's police chief: new Town Manager Benny Webb. The day before, the town's attorney and two judges were sacked. These events followed a long council meeting which was held mostly behind closed doors and questioned by some town residents.

Apparently Atlantic Beach hasn't heard of that transparency and ethics thing.

But Webb's not just been a source of controversy along the Grand Strand. Over the last year, Webb has come under scrutiny in the Pee Dee region.

Bachman AWOL in Congress?

While we're talking about no-shows, it's important to note that poor attendance isn't just a problem with Democrats - there are Republicans who can't show up for their jobs either.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has missed nearly 40 percent of votes in the House since she formally launched her presidential campaign.

Bachmann’s absentee rate, which is significantly higher than the two other House members running for president, could be used by her GOP opponents on the campaign trail.

When confronted with this by a reporter, her response was "No comment", followed by "I’m not doing an interview with you now."

MoveOn protest of Tim Scott a no-show event


John Morgan endorses compromise Congressional plan

In recent weeks, national Republican redistricting expert John Morgan has been drawn into the center of the ongoing battle on Congressional redistricting.


Today, he released a letter endorsing the compromise plan being worked out between legislative leaders over the Senate-passed reapportionment:
Given the Republican incumbents in Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 and the conservative composition of these Districts, it is my opinion that the new 7th District as drawn in the compromise plan reflects the most conservative demographics to ensure the best opportunity to elect additional Republicans.

Both redistricting plans will shift Congressional balance of power from Charleston

A key argument used by advocates of the Senate-passed version of the Seventh Congressional District is that it allows the region’s other coastal counties to circumvent the long-time historical dominance of Charleston County in the region’s Congressional races.

While analysis of voting trends generally supports this claim, it also shows that the outcome of both the proposed Congressional redistricting mplans could accomplish this objective, a point which has been overlooked by those touting the merits of the Senate-passed plan. In looking at GOP primary numbers from recent primary elections, both the current compromise plan and the Senate-passed version would give the smaller coastal counties of Beaufort, Berkeley and Dorchester a decent opportunity to elect a coastal member of Congress from outside of Charleston County.

The Charleston area boundaries in the compromise plan are essentially unchanged from the current Congressional boundaries, so the numbers should be pretty close between the current lines and the proposed ones in the compromise plan.

As the First District in the compromise plan and the Seventh District in the Senate plan would generally have a Republican lean, the deciding electoral contest for either should – in most cases – be the Republican primary. This being the case, it’s worth looking at recent numbers and voting trends to try to predict what could happen next year.

Legal merits of the Congressional plans

After much work, legislative leadership from the House and Senate is in the final stages of negotiating a compromise on a plan for the state's seven Congressional districts. The map, which is shown to the right, was recently released to the public via the state's legislative website.
This plan (which in the interests of full disclosure, I was asked to help draw) addresses a number of concerns expressed by various parties. The most notable revisions were in the Charleston metropolitan area, exchanging several communities in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester Counties between the First and Sixth Congressional Districts and attempting to make the map more like past Congressional maps which the court had signed off in in the Burton decision of 1992 and the Colleton decision of 2002.

Considering the issues raised in past decisions over South Carolina redistricting is of paramount importance as many observers expect the maps to end up in court, even if a Congressional map does clear the ongoing legislative impasse and is signed off on by Governor Haley. Any map signed off on by the courts would need to navigate a complex set of legal expectations and precedents.

Several issues which were problems in the plans which were passed by the House and/or Senate or raised by the advocates and critics of various plans were examined in the most recent ruling regarding South Carolina's election districts: Colleton County Council vs. McConnell, which resulted in the drawing of the current Congressional and legislative district lines in 2002. As these plans will likely be in front of a court soon, it seems logical to speculate that issues which mattered to judges before will matter to judges in the near future as well.

A number of analyses of the plans have often sought to argue the merits based upon partisan election outcomes, many of which show minor advantages in the House plan. In reviewing past rulings, overtly partisan interests are generally given little or no interest by courts. Since jugdes won't likely consider them, they won't be addressed here.

Congressional compromise plan picking up Democratic support?

One of the key moments in the Congressional redistricting process was the vote in the Senate, where all but one Democratic Senator voted for the plan which passed the Senate.

Dick Elliot (D-Horry), who was the one Democratic holdout, will likely be joined by other Democratic Senators. In a TV interview, Democratic Senator Yancey McGill (D-Kingstree) came out for a Congresional plan which unites the Pee Dee region into a single Congressional district.

The plan which passed the Senate would split the Pee Dee and Grand Strand region, which had been united until 1992, into the First, Sixth and Seventh Districts, while the House plan, which had been rejected by the Senate, would re-consolidate the region. We've been told other Democratic Senators from the Pee Dee are mulling throwing their support behind a compromise plan, should it propose to reunify the region.

Former SCGOP Chair urges support for Congressional compromise plan

Longtime former SCGOP Chair Katon Dawson entered the ongoing standoff over Congressional redistricting this afternoon, releasing a letter encouraging legislators to support the pending compromise map being worked out by legislators over the one passed by the Senate several weeks ago.

Dawson writes:
It appears likely that a compromise effort is coming forth from our S.C. House of Representatives and will be sent to the S.C. State Senate on Tuesday for an up or down vote. I am asking that Republican lawmakers support the Senate and House redistricting compromise amendment, which is being drafted by leadership from both bodies and that this compromise also be supported by Governor Haley.

A copy of this letter is provided for our readers by reading the full article.

Look for more analysis and discussion of this process soon.

Guest cartoon: Diapered Obama

Today's contribution from Blogland reader Jamie Walton:

Guest op-ed: Rep. Phillip Lowe - "Restore the Pee Dee District"

Today's guest op-ed was penned by Florence County State Representaive Phillip Lowe. Lowe ws first elected to the House in 2006.

The Blogland accepts guest op-eds and cartoon submissions from our readers for publication. If you have a message you'd like to share with our readers, you can email it to earl@earlcapps.org.

Let me begin by saying, I am an elected official from the Pee Dee Region of South Carolina. I am biased and I fully support the 7th Congressional District being located in the Pee Dee where it was for over 200 years. Our district was taken from us in the gerrymandered redistricting process of 1992. Our region of the state was significantly harmed. The Pee Dee deserves a representative who is from our area and is sensitive to issues facing our region.

The State House and Senate have drawn two different redistricting plans. Both add a 7th congressional district but the house version places the 7th in the Pee Dee while the senate version splits the Pee Dee into four districts and places the 7th in the Beaufort area. On July 26, legislators will choose one version.

Legislative success with the Senate

There’ve been a lot of criticisms leveled at the State Senate about the institution doing nothing and being a dead-end for legislation passed by the House. While some very useful bills have stalled in that chamber, not every good idea or vital piece of legislation dies there.

Last year, I approached several Senators with my concerns regarding South Carolina’s laws regarding underground utilities and construction. These laws, enacted in 1978, had not been revised for over three decades and the shortcomings in these laws made it one of the worst in the nation in regard to safety, putting construction workers and the general public in harm’s way.

As a part of my job involves occupational safety, these issues are pretty serious and with the help of the Senate, an issue which had been dead-locked since the 1990s was resolved. As one of the lead negotiators for the construction industry and a primary instigator of the legislative reform process, I was one of the central figures in this process.

Can Haley chart a new course for SC Republicans?

As some predicted, the election of Dick Harpootlian to lead the South Carolina Democratic Party has consequences for Republicans. The troubles faced by Ken Ard won't likely be the last, as Harpootlian was known for believing in the value of strong and aggressive opposition research.

When he served as SCDP Chair in the mid and late 1990s, his aggressive approaches caught Republicans napping and allowed the Democrats some breathing room. Say what you want about the ethics of what he does, but it's obvious he can land the kind of punishing political blows few Democrats are able, or willing, to do.

While ethical lapses by high-profile Republicans can certainly expect to receive close attention by Harpootlian, Republicans should also be aware that they'll be held accountable for getting things done. The childish temper-tantrums of the Sanford days, should they continue, will likely become ammunition for Democratic attacks in the media and campaign trail.

Yesterday, GOP strategist Wesley Donehue, writing in the Process Story website, called on Governor Haley to set the tone for a more effective approach to communication and leadership for state Republicans:

Bachman campaign on the attack?

South Carolina has seen plenty of violence involving its politicos in recent years. Perhaps the latest episode involving the Michele Bachmann campaign is just their effort at trying to fit in?

AIKEN, S.C. (AP) - ABC News says a reporter trying to question GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was pushed and shoved by members of her camp after a campaign event in South Carolina.

Network news senior vice president Jeffrey Schneider said reporter Brian Ross was shoved Tuesday as security tried to block him from the Minnesota congresswoman while he asked whether she had to miss votes because of migraines. Schneider said Ross has been a victim of worse violence but added no reporter should be roughed up pursuing a story.

A spokeswoman for Bachmann did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

An online news site claimed Monday that Bachmann was reportedly sidelined by headaches. Bachmann says her symptoms are controlled with medication and have not gotten in the way of her political work.

... nor will those pesky reporters be allowed to get in the way of her political work, it seems.

Harpootlian talks about ... campaign finance ethics?

Following Dick Harpootlian's efforts to bash Lt. Governor Ken Ard over campaign contributions and expenditures, calling Ard "not fit for public office", brings back some old memories of much bigger problems with campaign finances.

Some of our readers probably remember the 1998 elections in South Carolina, in which millions of dollars of funny money was channeled to help elect Democrats the last time Harpootlian led the state Democratic Party:

The video poker industry's latest trick was buying itself a governor. After Republican Gov. David Beasley tried and failed to ban video poker last year, the industry went to war against him. It spent at least $3 million--and almost certainly a lot more--to defeat Beasley's re-election bid. By one estimate, video poker supplied more than 70 percent of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Hodges' war chest, plus another million from a single poker operator on his own anti-Beasley operation, plus another million or more in soft money for the Democratic Party. (The chairman of the state Democratic Party is the leading lawyer for the poker industry.)

Dick Harpootlian: Pot, meet kettle.

P&C calls out S.C. State cover-up


When the evaluation comes due Sept. 1, the only people who will see it are Cooper and the board -- and in a stroke of bureaucratic excess, a committee formed to evaluate Cooper.

Sorry, that's not how this works.

Taxpayer money pays Cooper's salary. Therefore, his salary is public information, and his job performance is in direct interest of the taxpayers.

Apparently the board decided it doesn't need to share this information, without regard to the law.

It would be nice if S.C. State would spend more time serving as an education resources for the state and less time as a wasteland where tax dollars and accountability are lost and never seen again.

We'd love to know when legislators and the Governor are going to take cleaning up this institution seriously.

Saturday with the Fairfield GOP

Rural politics is often more enjoyable than the big-city beat. The smaller crowds and less formal settings make it more fun and allow people to connect.

Fairfield County one of it's largest-ever turnouts for an event - a pool party held in Winnsboro which drew Republicans from across the state, including SCGOP Chair Chad Connelly.

At the event, the Fairfield GOP received a contribution of $1000 for the county GOP from GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum and a challenge by the Santorum campaign to the Chester and Fairfield County GOP organizations, offering a Santorum appearance for a dinner fundraiser event for whichever got the most people to donate $10 a month to the SCGOP.

The Fairfield GOP was upbeat by the turnout and financial success of the event. Vice-Chair Jeff Betsch called the donation "a sign of faith that Fairfield Republicans have an important role to play next year" and invited other candidates to "not leave any small county behind".

We'll be sure to let our readers know which county party organization wins the challenge.

Herman Cain forgets freedom of religion

Herman Cain, a GOP Presidential candidate from Georgia, has begun showing some of the kooky fringe nut logic that probably contributed to his defeat in his U.S. Senate GOP primary campaign in Georgia.

Speaking in Tennessee on Thursday, he declared his support for efforts to block the construction of an Islamic mosque in the town of Murfreesboro:

I think it is an infringement and abuse of our freedom of religion, and I don't agree with what's happening here because this isn't an innocent mosque

Bachman & Santorum: Yes to censorshop, No to states rights

We always thought that conservatives were supposed to support the Constitution, Bill of Rights and States' rights.

Which doesn't explain why Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann signed a pledge to ban porn and allow the federal government to impose its view of marriage upon each state.

Nor does it explain why Rick Santorum, fellow Presidential candidate and defeated Senator, signed the same pledge.

Guest op-ed: Bill Connor - "Candidate Obama" or "President Obama" on Afghanistan?

Today's guest op-ed comes from Lt. Connor Bill Connor. Connor is an Afghan vet and a Midlands GOP activist who ran for Lt. Governor last year, finishing a close second in the June GOP runoff.

A growing number of Blogland readers are submitting their artwork and writing for submission in the Blogland and we invite you to submit yours as well.
On June 23, President Barack Obama declared the phased US withdrawal from Afghanistan. He has promised the departure of 10,000 US troops by the end of this year and 33,000 by the end of 2012. According to details of the plan, by 2014 all combat troops will be gone and security transferred to the Afghans. This comes on the heels of the Administration’s recent decision to end the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” allowing open homosexuality among the Armed Forces. As Obama begins his campaign for reelection, we are likely to see more of this political pandering. Clearly, these pronouncements are a way to divert attention from the nation’s dire economic plight. However, despite a public perception of the “endless war” in Afghanistan, the President is making a costly mistake which threatens to derail so many gains over the past few years.

Coastal GOP factions fight for the 7th District

In the last two weeks, some very nasty verbal sparring has broken out between various Republican party factions along the coast over the placement of the state's new Seventh Congressional District.

The Blogland has obtained video footage of one recent slugfest that reportedly was a brawl between some of these factions.

We have agreed to keep the names confidential at this time. Speculate amongst yourselves who they might be.

Convicted lobbyist working for Santorum campaign

Guestions have been raised by traditional and new media outlets about former Republican U.S. Senator and current Presidential candidate Rick Santorum's sense of ethics, especially with regard to his relationship with convicted lobbyist Jim Hirni.

In light of Hirni's recent conviction, Santorum's decision to bring Hirni on board with his Presidential campaign seems rather puzzling.

 
We received an email forwarded from the Santorum campaign penned by Hirni, who has an email address with the Santorum campaign, asking for help in publicizing a Santorum campaign event to be held next week in Rock Hill:

Clyburn: "Blame it on Sanford", Blogland: "Whatever"

It seems like J.C. Hammer has reached some conclusions about what he believes to be the root of the problems at the grossly-mismanaged and incomplete James E. Clyburn University Transportation Center at S.C. State University. While audits have pointed to numerous instances of mismanagement, Clyburn says it's all ... Mark Sanford's fault?!?

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn blamed former Gov. Mark Sanford on Tuesday for delays in building a South Carolina State University transportation center that bears his name, and he said that has contributed to fundraising issues.

More factually-supported investigations have identified problems which included "duplicate billings, insufficient state matching funds and questionable payments" of amounts sometimes in the six-figure range and resulted in some expenses being referred to SLED for investigation of abuses by individual employees of the center.

It's also worth noting that Legislative Audit Council Director Thomas Bardin said auditors found no evidence that Sanford or anyone in his administration had done anything to stall the project.

Senate Democrat operative steals control of Seventh District in new plan

According to reports, Senate Democratic Caucus Director Phil Bailey was responsible for a legislative manuever which took control of the state's newest Congressional District.

According to sources, the plan unites a number of counties, divides others and is centered at his house, with plans to elect his dog to Congress.

Bailey reportedly told several insiders: "since nobody else could decide what to do with it, I thought it would make a nice toy for for my dog".

Guest Cartoon: Humpty Dumpty

More visual wit from Jamie Walton ...

Guest op-ed: David Carter - "Why I support Jon Huntsman"

One of a growing number of guest submissions to the Blogland, Upstate GOP activist David Carter sends in this one to explain his support for former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman for President.

Please keep in mind that reader submissons, while they express the views of the authors, do not necessarily represent the views of the Blogland, which has not endorsed a Presidential candidate for next year. If you have an opinion in the race and can clearly communicate this in an op-ed of three to seven paragraphs, we would welcome your submission, which you can email to earl@earlcapps.org.

David Carter writes ...

Last Sunday I was sitting in church, and like I normally do between Sunday school and the sermon, I checked the news on my phone to see what was said on the morning talk shows I missed while at church. As usual, the Sunday talk shows were full of talking heads, politicians, and other “experts” talking about the 2012 presidential race, and what effect Gov. Jon Huntsman’s entry will have on the contest. Some reliably conservative commentators have been dismissive and derisive of his chances, and this started to make me think about not only how off-base they are, but why I believe in Ambassador Huntsman and his plan for our country.

People who think they ought to be free, and think they are not

Reflect how you are to govern a people who think they ought to be free, and think they are not. Your scheme yields no revenue; it yields nothing but discontent, disorder, disobedience; and such is the state of America, that after wading up to your eyes in blood, you could only end just where you begun.

Edmund Burke, “First Speech on the Conciliation with America” (1774)

When Burke challenged British Parliament to recognize that the American Republic was inevitable, he understood the force of arms was powerless in the face of those who aspired to be free long. Perhaps these words should be on the mind of rulers in the Arab world today.