Why I support Senator Mike Rose

This is a reprint of an editorial letter which appeared in several newspapers in the Lowcountry which I endorsed the re-election of State Senator Mike Rose:

Every year, mishaps involving buried pipelines and cables kill people and threaten communities across the country. Near-misses and incorrect information about the location of these lines put additional burdens upon public safety agencies, increase the costs of construction projects and delay the completion of much needed highway projects.

While most states toughen the laws regarding underground utility safety only after a tragedy occurs, South Carolina recently updated its laws, which had been considered the oldest and most obsolete in the nation, before a disaster could occur. Leading the way in advancing much-needed reform legislation to tackle this vital public safety issue was Dorchester County’s State Senator Mike Rose.

8th Circuit Solicitor's office DUI friendly?

If you're a drunk driver, you may find the counties of the Eight Judicial Circuit - Abbeville, Greenwood, Laurens and Newberry Counties - a friendlier place to drive than other Upstate counties thanks to incumbent Solicitor Jerry Peace.

A brewing issue in the ongoing Republican primary battle between Peace and challenger David Stumbo is over the low DUI conviction rate in the Circuit. Last fall, WSPA TV News 7 in the Upstate reported that in a four-month period last summer, over eighty percent of DUI cases in Greenwood and Abbeville Counties were dismissed, with Greenwood County's conviction rate was 18% and Abbeville’s rate at 22%.

While Peace says this was because defendants offered to plead guilty to a lesser charge like reckless driving, but when compared to other Upstate counties for the same time period, this conviction rate came in well behind the following counties:

Hundley wins Senate 41 GOP Primary - but why?

In a race that many said had no real meaning, Charleston lawyer Walter Hundley won the GOP nomination in tonight's Special Election primary for Senate District 41, which was vacated by the elevation of now-Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell earlier this spring.

Hundley stunned observers by carrying nearly 58 percent of the 2850 votes cast. He was followed by Wally Burbage, who got 978 votes (34%), Sean Pike with 190 votes (7%) and John Steinberger with 37 votes (1.3% - yes, really). Each of the candidates defeated by Hundley will be seeking office again in the near future.

Hundley's victory is somewhat reminiscent of the movie "Brewster's Millions" where Richard Pryor plays a down-and-out baseball player who inherits millions and wages a winning "None Of The Above" protest campaign in a New York City mayoral race with the intent of denying victory to the two major candidates. Should he win the special general election in July - a likely outcome in this heavily-Republican district, Hundley will be too late to attend session this year (barring any special sessions), and since he does not live within the new district lines, he can't seek a full term in the regular GOP primary on June 12.

Democratic losers endorsing in 7th District race

What do Jim Hodges, Vince Sheheen and John Spratt have in common?

And all three of them also live outside of the district.

That's the kind of support we'd want. 

Brittain faces a radically rescrambled race following the decision by Chesterfield County State Rep. Ted Vick to drop out of the Congressional race after being arrested in Columbia for DUI last week. His strongest primary contender is expected to be Gloria Tinubu, a former Georgia legislator who has been attracting the support of the Democratic party's liberal activists, including the state's AFL-CIO.

Easy wins expected in Horry County House races

In recent years, Horry County has been one of the counties with the most competition for House seats. This year is proving to be much the same, with the county gaining a new House seat from reapportionment, another open race and several incumbent challenges. But while this might generally point to a very hotly-contested primary election field, signs are pointing to easy wins in the all-important Republican primary contests for these seats.

It looks like the night’s first winner will be Dennis DiSabato, who is unopposed for District 56, which the county gained in redistricting. His only opponent was booted off the ballot in the recent filing flap. Ditto for Blake Hewitt, who is running unopposed for House District 105 after several candidates were booted off the primary ballot. But they won't likely be the only ones rolling to easy wins.

Guest Cartoon: Walton - "Memorable days"

Clyburn endorsement in Seventh District race

Tuesday next week, Clyburn will reportedly endorse Horry County attorney Preston Brittain, one of four Democrats remaining in the contest for the Seventh District seat. Brittain also received the support of Florence's Democratic Mayor Steve Wukela.

While Clyburn represented many of the Democratic areas of the district before the Pee Dee region was moved into the Seventh District, it's hard to tell how much influence his endorsement will have on the race, as the candidates in the field - until Vick's media splash and subsequent withdrawal - have done little to stir up interest in the race.

A recent poll conducted by Francis Marion University and SCNow showed a lackluster race for the Democratic nomination with roughly two-thirds of likely Democratic primary voters saying they were undecided. Among those who were decided, former candidate Ted Vick led the field with fifteen percent, Gloria Tinubu with nine percent, Preston Brittain with six percent, Myrtle Beach attorney Harry Pavilack with three percent and Surfside Beach attorney Parnell Diggs with three percent. 

Guest Cartoon: Walton - "Dueling"

Ted Vick kickbacks?

But some might say that where Ted Vick is involved, business is good.

According to a review of disclosure records from the state Ethics Commission website, Vick has been doing business with the Fourth Circuit Solicitor's office after making contributions to the campaign of Will Rogers, the current solicitor.

In 2008, four thousand dollars was donated to Rogers' campaign by various individuals with the last name Vick. While a thousand came from Rep. Vick himself, another thousand came from Ted Vick Motor Company.

In 2010, Vick then reported earning $7998.98 from the Fourth Circuit Solicitor's office on his Statement of Economic Interests form.

Coincidence? Given the string of questions being asked about Vick, it's a little hard to tell. In any event, it looks like his primary bid, once considered a coronation, could be turning into an uphill battle.

Haley attacks part of double-standard on attacks and threats by the Left

As first reported in the Columbia Free Times, outgoing South Carolina AFL-CIO President Donna Dewitt (who is just one typo away from being known as the "ALF Lady"), decided to have a little fun at a retirement party being thrown in her honor by taking two whacks at a pinata with Governor Nikki Haley's face on it.

This isn't the only recent sting made against her by Democrats, but like the other incident, we think the adverse reaction by some is much ado about nothing. But we're betting if it the face was Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi or Jim Clyburn, there'd be howls of outrage over the matter.

We have no problem with the one-liners and mock attacks that are clearly not intended in malice as free speech ain't always pretty, but usually it's harmless. We just have a problem when they're part of a double-standard where what is considered free speech by those on the political Left is considered hate speech when coming from the political Right.

Here's the video of Dewitt:

Vote Heather Crawford for House District 68

There are a number of legislative contests around the state where the Blogland will be endorsing candidates. Our first endorsement goes to one of the hardest-working new faces we've seen offering for legislative seats this cycle: Heather Ammons Crawford, who is seeking the GOP nod for House District 68 in two upcoming contests: a special election primary on June 5 to serve out the remainder of the current term (it was vacated by former Rep. Thad Viers several months ago) and a primary for the full term which begins next year.

Crawford is a veteran of Horry County GOP politics, having founded the Grand Strand Young Republicans and served as its Chair for two years, as well as the Horry County Executive Committeeman for the South Carolina Republican Party from 2009-2011. Currently, she serves as the South Carolina National Committeewoman for the Young Republican National Federation.

Just as importantly, she grew up in the area and is active in the Grand Strand in a number of non-political roles which are near and dear to her. She is well-invested in her community and won't require on-the-job training to learn the local issues. Crawford understands the challenges faced by a high-growth area which is struggling to address growth issues while attempting to preserve the quality of life that has made the Grand Strand a choice location for tourists and transplants alike and will be an important ally in those efforts.

Shadow campaign groups in Dorchester Senate race?

Supporters of Sean Bennett, who is challenging Summerville State Senator Mike Rose, aren't afraid to push the envelope of state campaign laws to try to get their guy elected.

A search of the S.C. Secretary of State's website shows a Dorchester One, Inc., which was dissolved last year. No listing shows up on the state Ethics Commission website.

In the past, courts and the state Ethics Commission have taken a very dim view of these kinds of activities taking place in Dorchester County elections, including a judgment against former State Senator Bill Branton, and a number of parties are looking for whoever is behind these billboards.

We'll be digging into this one and look forward to sharing what we find with our readers.

Ted Vick's Florence problem

While Seventh District Democratic congressional candidate Ted Vick might've been hoping for a united front to help him coast through the Democratic primary and save his time and resources for the general election contest,  it's looking like Pee Dee Democrats are far from unified behind his candidacy.

We recently reported the AFL-CIO endorsement of Gloria Tinubu, one Vick's primary opponents. Another setback for Vick's efforts to lock in support for his candidacy was reported by John Sweeney of the Florence Morning News, who wrote that Steve Wukela, Florence's Democratic Mayor, is expected to announce his support of Preston Brittain, an Horry County attorney who is also seeking the Seventh District seat.

Why is this important? Of the roughly thirty-three thousand voters who cast Democratic primary ballots in 2010, roughly 21% (almost seven thousand) came from Florence County - the largest number of Democratic primary votes cast in any of the Seventh District counties (Dillon was the only other county that turned out more than 5,000 votes), meaning a strong showing in Florence is crucial to winning the primary. 

Save Phil Bailey

Bailey and his faithful
sidekick Judging Dog
Recently, Phil Bailey, veteran Democratic campaign strategist and Director of the State Senate's Democratic Caucus, touched off a bit of a firestorm when he called Governor Nikki Haley a "Sikh Jesus".

The comments even spawned a Sikh Jesus user account on Twitter.

Following this, Bailey's Twitter account went away and it's been reported that he was "reprimanded". We hope this is as far as it goes.

While some were certainly upset by Bailey's remarks, it's not surprising to see him pushing the envelope. He's well known for doing this over the years, providing some entertaining and even thought-provoking moments. But one off-the-cuff remark, even one this incendiary, shouldn't be the end of his career, and we hope it's not. Hopefully Phil will return to Twitter, including with his biting wit and Judging Dog, soon.

These sentiments were also shared by Billy Simons, a Lowcountry GOP activist, who wrote:

I hope that we will soon see the return of Phil Bailey’s twitter account, because this is one conservative, Republican that misses it greatly. I’ll say once again, based on my interactions with Phil Bailey he is none of the things that people have made him out to be, based on a couple of tweets. It was an attempt at humor that crossed the line, but nothing more. I hope all of you will join the cause and let’s help #FreePhilBailey.

Everyone gets fired in Timmonsville

Thanks to Honda's manufacturing facility in Florence County, Timmonsville, South Carolina is becoming known as a great place to work in the Pee Dee region.

But it's also becoming notorious as a bad place to work if you're a public servant, as they're firing everyone. Even cops and coaches.

Last week, the Mayor and town council voted 4-3 to fire pretty much it's entire municipal workforce - the administrator, treasurer, town clerk and police officers, asking Sheriff Kenny Boone to take over patrols in the town. Mayor Darrick Jackson explained this move was made to cut costs, saying the firings would save the town $400,000 a year. Apparently the town is about a half-million in the red and is late in repaying federal loans as well.

SCGOP Convention Recap

Republicans from around the state gathered in Columbia to elect delegates to the national convention and National Committee members. The Coliseum floor was packed in a cordial setting where even Lindsey Graham received warm applause, likely the first instance of its kind at a party event in years.

Glenn McCall and Cindy Costa were re-elected to their National Committee posts by acclamation, followed by a vote for national delegates (votes still being tabulated at the time this article was published) and a quick motion to ratify a limited number of resolutions.

Fellow Horseman Tom Grimes received recognition for his long-time service to the party, helping preside over the convention to present an award for local government service to Spartanburg County Council member Roger Nutt.

Started at ten, finished before one, it was one of the shortest conventions we’ve seen in years. Business was conducted with a minimum of speeches, resolutions or motions of any kind to drag things out, which are normally a regular occurrence at GOP conventions. Our hats are off to SCGOP Chair Chad Connelly and convention Chair Alan Clemmons for a well-managed convention.

Vick's Congressional campaign crossfire

In recent years, the Democratic path to electoral success in the northeastern (Pee Dee and Grand Strand) part of South Carolina has been simple: assume the Democratic voter base in the Pee Dee is locked in and ignore them and then focus on splitting off some of the moderate Republican voters along the coast by tacking to the center while demonizing the Republican candidate as extreme, unethical or both.

While this strategy has generally worked well, it's based on a lot of assumptions that sometimes get upset. Chesterfield County State Representative Ted Vick is finding this out, as his efforts to play the political center are putting him in a political crossfire that is making his bid to win the Democratic nomination for the Seventh Congressional District increasingly challenging.

Slow going in the 7th CD race

According to the first outside polling to hit the press in the race for the GOP nomination for the Seventh Congressional District, the race is still taking a while to develop, showing high numbers of undecided voters (35 percent of respondents) remain and former Lt. Governor Andre Bauer and Horry County Council Chair Tom Rice in a tight race for first place among those who already hold opinions.

Much of what the data showed wasn't a surprise. Internal numbers we've seen from various camps had pegged Bauer and Rice as the leading contenders for the seat, with the others far back in the pack, as well as high numbers for undecided voters. Here are some other notable trends we saw in this survey which might give us some idea of what to watch out for during the race:

How much for these Sketchers?

Being a communication professional and professor, false advertising doesn't sit well with me.

So when Attorney General Alan Wilson, along with forty-three other states, the District of Columbia, and the Federal Trade Commission, making Sketchers USA pay $40 million to settlement to settle complaints about claims made by advertising regarding the health benefits of its Shape-Ups, Tone-Ups, and Resistance Runner athletic shoes, I was pleased.

Harry Kibler's political resume

Harry Kibler, the person at the helm of the RINO Hunt groups in South Carolina may be no stranger to electoral politics, but he hasn't exactly done well at it.

In 2010, he lost a primary bid for Greenville County Council. The screen capture to the right shows how that race worked out for him.

Now he wants to go forth and show people how to win. Good luck.

Happy Birthday to Murrell Smith

Please join the Blogland in wishing a Happy Birthday to Sumter State Representative Murrell Smith!

Computer forensics investigators legislation (S580) up in the House

One of the areas of the Blogland's focus is with issues related to law enforcement and judicial matters. Having grown up in a cop household, these issues are very real to me, thus I tend to be involved and aware of what's going on. These days, my father is a well-regarded computer forensics investigator who got a lot of state and national media exposure for his role in the Kate Waring mission person and murder investigation.

The use of computer forensics as an investigative tool has led to the misconception that they are private investigators, thus should be licensed as such. There is credible evidence which points to this as a very different, hence separate, profession, thus should not be lumped into the same category. Many states have updated their laws to create a clear distinction between the two fields and exempt computer forensics investigators from being subjected to the registration processes which are applied to private investigators.

Senate Bill 580 would allow South Carolina to do the same, thus freeing that profession from red tape which is the result of a lack of understanding of technology and how to use it as an investigative tool. The bill has moved through the Senate and will be heard this week by a subcommittee in the House LCI Committee. Legislators need to the right thing and pass this bill forward.

Cleaning out the gene pool in the Lowcountry

If you try to rob someone, you might get shot. You might even get killed. Just ask Racarlton Alphonse Scott.

Oh, that's right, you can't ask him. He's dead.

Mr. Scott died after getting shot while trying to rob someone who had a gun. Sometimes that happens. The pathetic piece of crap tried robbing a North Charleston resident while he was putting his four-year old daughter in the car. 

We qualify our assessment of Scott as a pathetic piece of crap based upon his criminal record: Assault and battery (2007), Simple Assault and Battery (2007), and Strong Arm Robbery (2008). Given this series of convictions, we're left wondering what he was doing on the streets in the first place.

Two others, 20-year-old Jamel Prezzy and 24-year-old Jermaine Venning, were arrested for their role in the robbery gone wrong. While Prezzy had a clean record, Venning, didn't. He was convicted of drug dealing in Charleston County in 2006. 

A more detailed history of the short life of Mr. Scott is available from our friends at Charleston Thug Life, a website which chronicles the online social media activities of Lowcountry vermin. Their website is ALWAYS worth a visit.

Saving the snakes?

Only a federal agency would deem the potential demise of one of the most venomous species of snakes a crisis. Which is exactly what they're doing, by proposing to declare the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake an endangered species:

The Eastern diamondback rattlesnake, a venomous reptile with a nasty bite, is under consideration to become a federally protected endangered species in South Carolina and neighboring states.

Yes, really. 

One of the critics of this move is Dorchester County State Rep. Chris Murphy, who told The State "I don’t know if you’re going to get a lot of sympathy for putting one of the most dangerous snakes in the world on an endangered species list."

An "end" to Todd Kincannon?

Columbia attorney and GOP attorney Todd Kincannon is, without a doubt, one of the most colorful figures in Palmetto State politics. Corey Hutchins of the Columbia Free Times newspaper named him as one of the most interesting South Carolina politicos on Twitter (@toddkincannon on Twitter):

Irreverent, insensitive, cruel and uncouth, @ToddKincannon is as entertaining as a snuff film — and tends to leave you shaking your head with the same lingering question: Was that for real?

Kincannon, who describes himself in his Twitter profile as "a conservative. A #VileTweeter, I don't mince words. A lot of people hate me, which I genuinely enjoy" regularly spars with a wide range of liberal activists on Twitter, including a recent round with Alec Baldwin, as well as Justin Bieber fans and self-proclaimed Midlands dope dealers. 

Apparently some of them haven't fallen in love with his edgy online persona, as they've started an online petition to "end" him:

Happy Birthday, Buck Brailsford

The Blogland wants to extend belated Happy Birthday wishes to Buck Brailsford. Buck is a loyal Blogland reader and one of Clarendon County's most loyal Republicans. 

Buck's wife, June, has been a long-time officer in the Clarendon County Republican Party, playing a key role in keeping their illustrious Chair, Moye Graham (R-Graham Slough) in check. Their son, Henry, happens to own our favorite BBQ joint - D&H BBQ in Manning. 

 We appreciate their recent hospitality in inviting us to their place at Lake Marion for a recent birthday cookout. Friends like these are great to have!

Fun with the Grand Strand YRs

Candidate forums and stump rallies are an inevitable (and sometimes boring) part of any election cycle. To help keep up with the circus that is South Carolina politics, the Blogland makes a point to hit the road and see what's going on out there, including dropping in on candidate events.

This weekend, we had the chance to drop in on the candidate stump rally and social event hosted by the Grand Strand Young Republicans, led by Mallory Morris and Russell Fry. The place was packed and the location - Rossi's (one of our favorite Italian joints in Myrtle Beach) was great.

At events like these, candidates run the gamut from sad to decent (an assessment probably biased since we've heard a lot of them more than a few times), which groups can't help. But the things that could be helped were well-handled by the group - food, beer, location and hospitality. We'll definitely be looking to the next chance we get to attend one of their events and appreciate them making us feel at home.

SC inmates still on the phone - FCC AWOL?

Thanks to revelations from the folks with the Charleston Thug Life blog, which has made a name for itself trolling the ever-burgeoning world of urban hoodlums using social media, we get more evidence of inmates using phones in prison to keep in contact with the outside world. Two weeks ago, the website outed a number of inmates online, followed by a story in the Charleston Post and Courier which looked at the ongoing problem

Lieber Correctional Institution staff snagged well over seven hundred phones from inmates last year.

Meanwhile, South Carolina is one of 31 states which have requested permission from the FCC, which includes South Carolinian Mignon Clyburn - the daughter of S.C. Congressman Jim Clyburn (aka J.C. Hammer) - to implement cell phone jamming in prisons to neutralize this problem. 

We talked about this issue over a year ago - not surprisingly, they're still waiting.

Sex offender plea deal fuels heated 8th Circuit Solicitor race

A recent plea deal in a child molestation case has set off a storm of controversy in the GOP primary for the 8th Circuit Solicitor race, where incumbent Solicitor Jerry Peace's decision to cut a deal has generated a great deal of criticism, including from a national expert who declared "the handling of this case was highly irregular and troubling", as well as the family of the victim i the case.

This is the latest in a race which has turned into a heated battle between the incumbent and supporters of David Stumbo, a veteran prosecutor who has worked both in the state Attorney General's office as well as an assistant solicitor in the 11th Circuit.

Allegations have been made that Peace's office mishandled the case regarding Norman Keesee, a former music minister accused of molesting a child with cerebral palsy during music lessons. Keesee pled guilty to First Degree Assault and Battery (a non-sexual offense) and was given five years of probation and required to register as a sex offender. While it was indicated that the victim's family agreed to the sentence, a post-trial media interview indicated the family was blindsided in the courtroom on the day of the sentencing and disagreed strongly with the plea deal which was reached by Peace's office.

Democratic Senate candidate a blank slate on the issues

Former Charleston City Council member Paul Tinkler is attempting a political comeback by way of running for Senate District 41, which was recently vacated by Lieutenant Governor.

While some politicians have been accused of being a figurative blank slate, a visit to the issues page of his website reveals that he indeed is a blank slate. In spite of having his campaign website up for several weeks and filling it with press releases, his issues page has no content, sparing voters from being bored with his opinion or agenda.

At least when he says nothing, he can say nothing wrong.

Guest op-ed: Bill Connor - "Thank you, Sixth District Republicans"

Today's guest editorial is penned by Orangeburg Republican Bill Connor, the newly-elected Chair of the Sixth Congressional District GOP, an attorney and Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves who occasionally shares his thoughts via the Blogland. You too can contribute by sending an email to earl@earlcapps.org:

Dear 6th District GOP members,

I want to start by offering sincere thanks for entrusting me with the Chairmanship of the 6th District GOP. This is an honor and duty I won't take lightly. I pledge to you my best efforts on behalf of the counties in the 6th District.

Since the 6th District convention, I had been busy preparing for a planned military training exercise with my unit which occurred last week. As a leader in this unit (in addition to my civilian job), I have had little "spare" time. However, we redeployed on Sunday, and have dedicated much time this week to 6th District GOP business. Know that the 6th Distict leaders like Jim Pratt, Sandra Bryant, and Moye Graham are working on your behalf. I couldn't ask for a better team.

The day after my return from military duty (ironically May 1, or "May Day"), I decided to shake things up and pay a visit to a speech given by Congressman Jim Clyburn. Some of you have read what I posted on facebook about that visit, but if not here is my posting:

More questions about House 97 candidate's GOP credentials

Three candidates are running for House District 97: two in the GOP primary and a Democratic incumbent.

However, questions continue to be raised about the conservative credentials of one of the two candidates who filed to seek the GOP nomination: Ed Carter, who lost a 2000 bid for the same district as the Democratic nominee.

In a recent debate, it was reportedly pointed out that the GOP Voter Vault database scored Carter as a weak Democrat based upon his voting history. We recently received a copy of that report, so we know that's not being made up.

But wait, there's more ...

Democratic House candidate rally call falls on deaf ears

Lexington County Democratic House candidate Walid Hakim might've been trying to impress his left-wing backers by issuing a call for a general strike on May 1st:

“I encourage everyone that is non-emergency personnel to participate in the general strike on May the first. I believe that a strong message needs to be put out and the people aren’t going to listen unless we bring the economy to a screeching stop for at least one day.”

While he may have been hoping for a large groundswell to help generate publicity for his challenge to incumbent GOP State Rep. Mac Toole, all evidence shows the day passed with little incident in South Carolina, except for a minor protest challenging budget cuts to bus service in Charleston, and only scattered incidents nationwide.

Labor union vote fails in Columbia

In one of the largest efforts in recent years by labor unions to organize a South Carolina workplace, workers handily rejected an effort by union organizers to organize workers at the Intertape Polymer Group plant in Columbia

The union lost the vote with 142 employees voting against the union, 97 voting for the union and 3 challenged votes. This rejection is another moment in what has been a long and contentious relationship between the company and the United Steelworkers Union

In watching labor union activity in South Carolina in recent years, union organizers have typically sought to score easy wins by focusing on small employers, usually with less than fifty workers, and overwhelm them. While some of these efforts succeeded, larger efforts, such as this one and the effort to organize the first Charleston Boeing plant, have gone badly for labor unions in recent years.