Guest cartoon: Walton - "Secret Service"

Guest Op-Ed: Tom Grimes - "Thank You"

This guest op-ed was submitted by former Sixth District GOP Chair Tom Grimes of Florence, who recently ran a strong candidacy for the new Seventh District GOP Chair, losing in a close race, but carrying six of the district's eight counties. The Blogland accepts submissions for publication from our readers of letters, essays or artwork. Email us to find out more. 

 I want to thank each of you for the hard work you personally put in to organizing the convention. As district conventions go, this was most assuredly one of the most interesting conventions I have been a part of in a long, long time.

I also want to thank each of you for your support and your county’s support in my quest for the Chairmanship of the 7th. I cannot thank you each enough for the encouragement and support. I know that some of you put yourselves at tremendous personal risk to your individual reputations and I can never thank you enough. It was a hard fought race that saw a lot of bitter and nasty mudslinging from some groups. I and those that helped with my campaign tried to remain above the nastiness and for the most part, we were successful. While I would have preferred a different outcome this past Saturday, I have no regrets on how I ran my campaign and with a few tweaks would do it the same way again. Elijah won a extremely close election and I ask that we all come together now, unite behind Elijah and move forward to elect our party’s nominee to the US House of Representatives this November.

Since the convention, I have received a number of calls and e-mails asking what I am going to do now that I no longer hold an official position? Let me be clear on this, I do not need another bullet point on a resume’ to work with and be involved, active and supportive of the SCGOP. It was not just campaign rhetoric when I talked about working in my dad’s tobacco warehouses as kid. It was not rhetoric when I talked of my summers at our family beach house in Garden City or earning my Eagle Scout badge and the times I spent at Camp Coker in Society Hill. The love, concern, passion and drive I have for this area we call the Pee Dee and the Grand Strand is borne from something some can never truly understand or appreciate.

Guest Cartoon: Walton - "Fools born every minute"

Inside Interview: Eleventh Circuit Assistant Solictor Ervin Maye

One of the most important, but often overlooked, roles in state government is the role of criminal prosecution. Working long and late hours for less than attorneys with private firms, they play a key role in our state’s judicial system. As issues related to crime and courts are one of our favorite areas of discussion, we always enjoy the opportunity to meet with the attorneys, judges and other officials in the system.

Recently we met with Ervin Jerome Maye, a Midlands prosecutor, when he was visiting the Lowcountry. We had a great time meeting with him and he agreed to share a little bit about himself and his work with Blogland readers, via our Inside Interview series of interviews.

About Maye’s background:

Doing the Seventh

Yesterday, we did something we've never done before (nor has anyone else since the 1920s). We attended the inaugural Seventh Congressional District GOP convention (the state lost it's previous Seventh District in 1931), where a full house turned out for a Saturday morning and afternoon of speeches, wheeling-and-dealing and political chatter galore. Opening with a speech from Governor Nikki Haley and a free breakfast gathering from congressional candidate Andre Bauer, much of the convention dealt with officer and delegate elections, as well as a congressional candidate straw poll. 

The biggest fireworks were a two-round District Chair poll where political novice Elijah Jones from Florence pulled off a close win in a wildly-swinging contest with outgoing Sixth District Chair Tom Grimes with a 58-54 vote. Grimes carried six of the district's eight counties, five of them by nearly unanimous margins, in a race where we saw plenty of childish personalities and personal and misleading attacks from Jones supporters.

Two delegates were elected to the upcoming national convention: Alan Clemmons and Jim Jerow. Another Blogland favorite - Horry County Chair Johnnie Bellamy - will be going as an alternate.

In the congressional straw poll, Myrtle Beach City Councilman Randall Wallace surprised the audience by finishing in an even tie with former Lt. Governor Andre Bauer for first place (this was initially reported as a Wallace win, but a recount of votes which we learned about later created a first-place tie). 

Special thanks to the organizing committee for the event and their hospitality. Special recognition goes to Elijah Jones' wife, who we saw spending at least an hour working by herself to get the lunches set up for convention attendees, even though we're sure she'd rather have been following her husband's candidacy, for extra effort.

Why Work Zone safety legislation matters

Meet my car - or rather what's left of it.

Several weeks ago, my car was parked inside two closed-off lanes on one of my company's highway projects. In spite of the distance away from traffic, a driver entered the closed lanes and rear-ended it going 90. Not surprisingly, some time after the collision, he blew a .15.

It's a graphic example of the dangers faced in work zones every day by construction workers, dangers which are all too frequent.

But a lot of research indicates the majority of those who will die in work zones are in cars, not workers. On my company's projects, we've had eight motorists and three pedestrians killed in our work zones and zero workers in the last ten years.

Senate Bill 1464, which was introduced in the Senate today, would establish a work zone penalty which would provided dedicated funds for work zone enforcement costs and an additional two-point penalty.

If you've got any questions, feel free to ask me - or come join me in one of my work zones and see for yourself.

Jim Davis for First District GOP Chair

When First Congressional District Republicans meet to select new officers and national delegates, they will have a number of choices to make and some good candidates to choose from in filling those slots.

Their first choice should be to elect Jim Davis to serve as their District Chairman.

Jim Davis, a retired business executive, has led the Charleston Tea Party in recent years, one of the largest and most effective of the state's many tea party and conservative activist groups. While other groups have shrunk or divided in feuding since the 2010 elections, the Charleston Tea Party group's size and influence has grown, attracting some of the state's most important politicos to address their members via Question-and-Answer sessions. Davis has played a large role in the group's success.

Tomorrow: Pub Politics 100th show event - be there!

The best way to get an inside look into what's going on in South Carolina politics is to check out Pub Politics (either in person or via webcast), a great half-hour show hosted by various bars and restaurants mostly in Columbia, led by our friends Phil Bailey, the director of the State Senate Democratic caucus, and Wesley Donehue, a well-known GOP political strategist and netroots guru.

With their inside knowledge and wide range of connections, they've opened the doors for people to look inside state politics, providing us some valuable insights as well as some memorable moments in state politics.

Tomorrow, the show celebrates its 100th show anniversary and we encourage everyone to show up for the occasion. They'll be at Jake's Bar and Grill 2112 Devine Street, which is in Five Points in Columbia, with the show starting at 6pm. Live music will be provided by The Project, a band led by Columbia State Representative James Smith.

We hope you can make it!

Federal court strikes down NLRB poster rule

In a setback to NLRB efforts, a federal court overturned the labor agency's notice posting rule.  Ruling in the case Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. NLRB, the court found the agency "exceeded its authority in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act", blocking the agency from requiring employers to posters which would have served as advertising for labor unions in the workplace.

According to Gray Geddie, Ogletree Deakins’ former chairman and the attorney who argued the case, "the court preserved the role of the NLRB as a quasi-judicial arbiter of employee rights, rather than an advocate for unions and unionization".

It still remains to be seen if the federal agency will now delay implementation of the notice posting rule until appeals are resolved, or whether the plaintiffs will be forced to apply to the court for a permanent injunction to prohibit enforcement of the rule on a nationwide basis.

Bill Connor to lead Sixth District GOP

Republicans in the recently-reconfigured Sixth Congressional District met today to elect new officers, as well as delegates and alternates to the upcoming national convention in Tampa.

It was also a good day for the Blogland as four of five of those who won posts were endorsed on this blog earlier this week.

Elected without opposition were new Chair Bill Connor of Orangeburg, Vice-Chair Jim Pratt of St. Matthews, and Secretary/Treasurer Sandra Bryan of Blythewood.

In contested votes, Joe Flowers from Walterboro and Moye Graham from Graham Slough were elected as delegates to the national convention, with Janis Blocker from Round O and Celestine Parker from Columbia elected as alternates. Graham led the voting for delegate seats, drawing votes from nearly ninety percent of convention delegates.

Graham is one of the Four Horsemen of the Political Apocalypse, along with outgoing Chair Tom Grimes, Vice-Chair Mike Reino and blogger Earl Capps.

Considerable praise was given by several speakers for Tom Grimes, the outgoing District Chair who was moved into the Seventh District, including state GOP Chair Chad Connelly and a standing ovation from convention attendees. Grimes is seeking the Chairmanship of the new Seventh District GOP at their upcoming convention.

Don't say we didn't tell you so

Recently, Henry Copeland attempted to pull a fast one on Charleston County Republicans, aiming to get appointed to fill a vacancy on the Charleston County School Board by the Charleston County legislative delegation, talking to GOP and Tea Party groups, claiming to be a conservative.

In the end, Brian Thomas, a GOP activist and local businessman, was appointed to fill the vacancy. But along the way, we took some heat for taking Copeland to task for his long-time Democratic roots, arguing that he'd be more of the same if appointed. Apparently he'd managed to sucker a number of Charleston area Republicans who thought he really wasn't a Democrat, including one who called the Blogland a "hitman".

As proof that we were right all along, here is footage of Copeland at the recent Charleston County Democratic convention, bragging about his long-time Democratic roots (start the video at about 58 seconds).

Sixth District GOP endorsements: Connor, Pratt, Graham and Bryan

For the last two decades, South Carolina’s Sixth Congressional District has been a political no-man’s land for Republicans from the top down. Drawn with a black majority, which has assured Congressman Jim Clyburn of an accountability-free tenure in Washington since the district was created from the old Pee Dee-based Sixth District in 1992, it’s a place where few Republicans hold any elected offices.

While Republicans are thin on the ground in this region, some of the state’s best reside in that Congressional district. We’re asking Sixth District Republicans to support the best: Bill Connor for Chair, Jim Pratt for Vice-Chair, Moye Graham for a national delegate slot and Sandra Bryan for Secretary.

7th District Republicans: Grimes, Richardson & Unity

As the Seventh District is a new Congressional district (even though it largely restores the long-lasting Pee Dee district that was taken away by judicially-imposed redistricting two decades ago), it gives the opportunity to shake up the region’s politics. Like the historic Pee Dee district, the new Seventh combines the coastal GOP bastions with rural GOP pockets like Florence and Hartsville with rural Democratic-leaning regions.

In 1994, the GOP took a somewhat-similar district when Lindsey Graham flipped the Third District to GOP control. While most of the counties in the district had no Republican office-holders and the District’s legislative delegation was heavily-Democrat, by the time Graham left the seat eight years later, the district was radically transformed, with Gresham Barrett succeeding him in a walk, the GOP holding the legislative majority and Republicans holding office in every county, with council majorities or near majorities in almost every county.

Republicans could accomplish the same in the Seventh, leveraging a Congressional win to help gain ground in traditionally Democratic areas, which would have a noticeable impact upon politics both in the region and statewide. But to do so takes the right kind of leadership from the GOP’s district party.

To provide that kind of leadership, Seventh District Republicans would be wise to support Tom Grimes for Chair and Brad Richardson for Vice-Chair.

Fight for Thomas' Senate seat on

As reported previously, Senate Banking Committee Chair David Thomas faces a tough primary battle for re-election to his Greenville County Senate District. While other Upstate legislators face challenges, Thomas is the only high-ranking one to face a serious battle for re-election.

According to recent campaign disclosures, there's some serious money pouring into this race, including one opponent who has outraised Thomas.

While Thomas has raised $97,776.21, a healthy amount of money for a Senate campaign, two of his opponents have also done well in the money race: Joe Swann, a Clemson board member, has raised $133,748.06 to date, with $100,000 being his own money, and Ross Turner, a Greenville insurance executive who has raised $43,926.86 with $10,000 from his own pocket.

Two other candidates are far behind in the money game: attorney Chad Groover, who raised $10,655.00, and Jim Lee, who faced Thomas in the 2010 GOP primary for the Fourth Congressional District, who has raised $16,411.70.

House candidate rejection appeal denied

Some people just don't know when to quit. Even when the truth is right in front of them.

That's how one could characterize the ongoing complaint process being waged in GOP circles by Thomas Muse, an Horry County resident who was disqualified from running for House District 68 because he doesn't live in the district.

In spite of the fact, it appears that Muse won't allow constitutionally-defined residency requirements to get in the way, informing the state Republican Party in an email that "I am committed to supporting the citizens of District 68 and will not abandon them simply because I was drawn out of the district."

Not suprisingly, the state GOP denied the appeal of his disqualification, with a lettter from SCGOP director Matt Moore telling him the law is the law regarding residency issues:

Rex Rice comeback bid fizzling?

Two years ago, Rex Rice gave up his State House seat to run for Congress. Failing to make it into the GOP run-off for the then-open Third Congressional District seat, he is attempting to return to the General Assembly by way of challenging long-time Senator Larry Martin from Pickens County.

According to the most recent campaign disclosures, Rice's candidacy isn't attracting much support. To date, he reports having raised a mere $750.00 for his comeback bid, with himself as the sole reported contributor, while Martin reports just under $84,000 cash on hand for his re-election campaign.

With numbers like these, Rice's only hope is for a well-funded third-party outside group to ride to his rescue. Barring that, his candidacy is looking pretty dead in the water.

Guest cartoon: Walton - "No Election"

Charleston thugs exposed online

Our hats are off to the newest group of citizen activists - Charleston Thug Life - who are following the Charleston area's criminal element online.

Scrolling through their blog, it's ... interesting ... to see how brazen the losers of Charleston's gutter are in showing off via social media. We invite you to check out their work.

Reportedly, the blog, whose unidentified authors say their goal is to “expose as many of these hidden thugs as we can; for as long as we can”, have become a tool for local law enforcement.

Joe's a jerk

The massive traffic snarl seen from North Charleston to Kiawah Island on Friday is being attributed to an Easter weekend visit by Vice President Joe Biden.

The VP’s Washington press office did not respond to several phone messages, but law enforcement and other officials said the blocked routes along Interstate 26 and other roads leading to Kiawah were done to accommodate the vice president’s motorcade.

Also, Biden’s office gave U.S. Rep. Tim Scott a call Friday that he would be coming into the Lowcountry.

Biden’s plane landed on the Charleston Air Force Base side of the International Airport around mid-afternoon, contributing to the Friday rush-hour traffic snarl, witnesses said.

Biden’s official schedule shows no public events for the next few days, which means drivers can probably expect the same type of traffic tie ups to be repeated, possibly as soon as Sunday or Monday.

Guest cartoon: Walton - "Chester Priorities"

Horry State House candidate booted from GOP primary ballot

Yesterday, the Blogland reported that one Republican candidate for State House District 68 did not meet the residency criteria to run in the regular election for the seat. Earlier today, the Blogland received a letter where the state GOP rejected his filing based on those grounds, refunding his filing fee.

Thomas Muse's candidacy for the seat was rejected, but due to the odd nature of the parallel special election and redistricting, Muse remains a candidate in the special election contest which is being held to fill the seat for the remainder of the current term, as he resides in the old district.

Muse's candidacy was pushed by a number of local Tea Party activists who no doubt have egg on their faces for their inability to keep informed about the district boundary changes.

The take-away lesson from this exercise in political futility: The ability to read map can be a vital skill for up-and-coming political operatives.

Two candidates remain on the ballot for the June primary.

When candidates don't read maps

Lately, the Blogland has been talking a lot about what’s going on in Myrtle Beach. But that’s not our fault – we don’t make the news, we just report on it. It’s those wild and crazy folks out that way who keep giving us more stuff to talk about.

The latest loose nut in the Grand Strand (there sure seem to be a lot of them) is Thomas Muse, one of three Republican candidates seeking to fill the recently-vacated House District 68.

It turns out that Muse will be running in the upcoming special election but due to his failure to read a map, he won’t be able to run in the parallel regular election contest to fill the seat for a full term due to residency questions. While he lives in the current District 68, his place of residence will be moved into House District 105, thus disqualifying him from seeking the District 68 seat.

It turns out that Section 7 of Article III of the state’s Constitution requires legislative candidates to reside in the district at the time of their filing:

Crawford’s Legislative Pledge: No work, no pay

The ongoing race to fill the vacant House District 68 is a rather unusual contest in that there will be two near-simultaneous elections for the seat: a special election to file the remainder of the term and a regular election contest. This means whoever wins the special election won’t be seated until after the General Assembly adjourns for the year.

If they don’t seek a full term or lose the regular electoral contest (the primaries which are expected to decide the contests will be held a week apart), it’s possible the special election victor could be a legislator without ever having to go to Columbia.

But even in that after, the winner of the special election will draw a small paycheck for their time in office - unless the winner is long-time Grand Strand GOP activist Heather Crawford.

Crawford pledged to not accept the legislative paycheck for the remainder of the session:

Whips, ex-wives & Dick Withington - or else

It seems that perennial Horry County candidate Dick Withington has been dazed and confused for so long that he filed to run for three offices in the June Republican Primary: his bid for the Seventh Congressional District, as well as challenging Senator Ray Cleary and Representative Nelson Hardwick to primary contests as well.

But it gets better - he expects his ex-wife to come help him campaign for some of these offices.

Yes, he really said that - and the story gets even more surreal.

Several House primary battles in Horry County

While there's not a lot of primary action for State House seats compared to recent election cycles, there's still plenty going out there in some areas - most notable in the Grand Strand.

What seems to be the most-contested House seat in the state is House District 105 in Horry County, which is now centered around Conway after losing its Myrtle Beach area precincts to a new House district.

After two terms, Rep. George Hearn is calling it a day, creating an open seat contest with SIX candidates competing in the GOP primary for this Republican trending district: Kevin Hardee, Mike Connett, Bert Von Herman, Liz Gilland, William Wiegand and Blake Hewitt.

With a crowded field like this, there's no telling who will come out on top, but it's bound to be a heated contest.

But the contest for House 105 won't be the only one in the area, with open seat contests in three adjacent House districts: District 58, which was recently relocated from the Pee Dee region, and District 68, which was vacated by former Rep. Thad Viers, along a three-way race for, and District 104, where Rep. Tracy Edge faces two primary challengers.