Showing posts with label election 2006. Show all posts
Showing posts with label election 2006. Show all posts

Richard Eckstrom exonerated - YES!!!

State Comptroller Richard Eckstrom, a regular Blogland reader who we support, apparently will be fully cleared with regard to Ethics allegations over his use of a state vehicle:

The Commission finds that the State Vehicle Management Act, as construed by the agency charged with administering it, does not prohibit personal use of state assigned vehicles by statewide elected officials and that Respondent acted in accordance with that understanding. Therefore, Respondent did not violate S.C. Code Ann 8-13-700(A). Accordingly, the Commission grants Respondent’s motion for summary judgment and dismisses the complaint.

You can read the rest of the Ethics Commission's findings HERE.

The whole situation was rather bone-headed. Sure, we at the Blogland probably wouldn't have used a state vehicle in a similar situation, but his childish Democratic opposition tried to build the Appalachian Mountains from a molehill to help Drew Theodore defeat him last fall.

It didn't work with the voters, nor did it work with the Ethics Commission. Maybe now, they'll go away and find a more positive outlet for their energies.

Drew Theodore, as you recall, criticized Eckstrom's efforts to remove lethal asbestos from state offices and in doing so, earned the endorsement of the Grim Reaper, which we reported here first.

We're certainly glad this whole experience has ended, and while we hope Richard comes out of this smarter, we hope the biggest lesson of all was learned by the political hacks who shamelessly raised and distorted the issue purely for their political gain.

Following the Money: Ross Shealy & House #79

Ross Shealy presents an excellent bit of research of the concentration of out-of-state campaign cash. His findings piggyback on findings I reported on last year in Representative Bill Cotty's re-election campaign.

Ross' research is dead-on as his taste in BBQ, and his wit is just as good:

But votes in District 79 don’t come as cheap as some folks think: Letts earned a thousand fewer votes than he did petition signatures, and Cotty edged out his Democratic opposition just under 300 votes.

96% of an SC legislative campaign funded by the out-of-state voucher lobby... For a little perspective, there is more actual fruit juice in a box of Hi-C fruit drink than there was actual SC funding for Mr. Letts.

While I support school choice, which seems to be a major litmus test for these outside contributors, I don't support the wholesale buying of our state's elected offices to reach that goal.

Branton's End: The price of negative campaigning in Dorchester County

For today's lesson in what unethical campaign "dirty tricks" can get you, we present the example of former State Senator Bill Branton of Dorchester County, who has gone to ground to duck a series of fines and judgments over his past campaigns.

Last spring, the Post and Courier was assured that he would address his mounting fines for not filing campaign disclosures from his 2002 campaign for Governor (which he lost). With nearly $40,000 in fines still due, it's obvious he hasn't settled the matter after all.

If you think not filing forms or paying fines is bad enough ... it pales in comparison to the mess he made this spring, in his attempt to make a comeback from his stunning 2004 landslide ouster from his State Senate seat, where Randy Scott defeated him by 63-37%:

Mr. Branton now faces a judgment for an attempt to send out a mailing from an anonymous group, making false claims about the County Council incumbent he sought to defeat.

The damages continue to mount from a negative flier that Dorchester County Council Chairman Skip Elliott says cost him a re-election bid this summer.

A judge will tell former Sen. Bill Branton how much money he owes Elliott next month. Elliott sued Branton for libel, and Branton failed to respond to the complaint. Elliott is seeking actual and punitive damages.

Meanwhile, two companies that helped print and mail the flier have been left holding the bag for the bill.

The flier arrived in Summerville mailboxes a few days before the Republican primary in June. It implied that Elliott had voted for his own property deals on council.

Actually, Elliott's father conducted the deals, and Elliott recused himself when council voted on them. The mailing urged people to "vote for anybody but Walter 'Skip' Elliott."

The flier was labeled as paid for by Citizens for Change, an unregistered name for which nobody claimed responsibility. Branton denied knowing anything about it, as did Elliott's other opponent, Jamie Feltner.

- Charleston Post and Courier (12/9/2006)

For all his trouble, he finished third and didn't even make it into the runoff. Then he tried running for the school board in the fall ... and then quit the race.

In any event, Bill's blustering and ranting on the campaign about "backroom deals" and "my daughters won't even move back here" can be put into a more informed perspective with the lies and sleazy games that have come to light about his own campaign conduct. If he doesn't run for office again, the people of Dorchester County will be better off for it ... and he won't be missed.

My 2006 races to watch - how did they do?

For us political hacks, Election 2006 has been a hell of a ride in South Carolina.

The first round was primaries headlined with a last-minute surge by Governor Sanford’s GOP primary rival and a stunning run-off save by Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, who overcame a 2nd place primary finish to prevail over Mike Campbell in the runoff.

But the surprises reached down the primary ballots – five House members lost their primaries, including the senior Democrat in the House – Tom Rhoad – and the only Democrat to chair a House committee. They were joined by all but one County Council chairman who faced a primary challenger. In the larger counties, roughly half of all County Council members were ousted. It was not a good year to be an incumbent.

The GOP rode into the fall hoping to gain a seat or two. While it didn’t work out that way, their losses were as marginal as their original expected gains – a net gain by Democrats of one seat.

To look back for a moment, here’s how my "races to watch" turned out:

Races I called "very competitive":

  • District 29: DEM open seat in Chester, Cherokee, and York Counties-
    Dennis Moss - D 4,591 50%, Danny Stacy - R 4,525 50%
    Less than 100 votes!

  • District 30: DEM incumbent in Cherokee County-
    Olin Phillips - D 57%, Bobby Beattie - R 43%

  • District 45: DEM open seat in Lancaster and York Counties - GOP pickup
    Mick Mulvaney - R 51%, Alston DeVenny - D 49%
    Less than 200 votes!

  • District 60: GOP open seat in Florence and Sumter Counties-
    Phillip Lowe - R 60%, LaRue Kirby - D 40%

  • District 79: GOP incumbent in Kershaw and Richland Counties-
    Bill Cotty - R 45%, Anton Gunn - D 43%
    ... and Michael Letts - I 9%, John Nelums - UCP 3%
    Cotty holds by under 300 votes!

  • District 97: GOP incumbent in Dorchester County- DEM pickup
    Patsy Knight - D 51%, George Bailey - R 49%
    Less than 200 votes!

  • District 119: GOP open seat in Charleston County- DEM pickup
    Leon Stavrinakis - D 54%, Suzanne Piper - R 46%

Races I called "potentially active":

  • District 7: GOP open seat in Anderson County-
    Michael Gambrell - R 56%, Ron Gilreath - D 44%

  • District 75: GOP incumbent in Richland County-
    Jim Harrison - R 55%, Boyd Summers - D 45%

  • District 108: DEM incumbent in Charleston and Georgetown Counties-
    Vida Miller - D 56%, Ricky Horne - R 44%

  • District 115: GOP incumbent in Charleston County-
    Wallace Scarborough - R 5,938 50%, Eugene Platt - D 5,893 50%
    Less than 100 votes!

  • District 120: DEM incumbent in Colleton and Hampton Counties-
    Bill Bowers - D 55%, Joe Flowers - R 45%

I only missed one race where the winner came in under 60%: Dem rep Anne Parks, in Greenwood and McCormick Counties, who held District 12 by 1100 votes - 58% to 42%. I also predicted that the House 60 race would be very close, as it had been in the past, but GOP candidate Phillip Lowe scored a stunning 60% victory. Nobody I talked with expected him to run away with it.

But I can't take all the credit for calling what turned out to be pretty good shots ... much of the credit is due to those who contacted me, and provided me valuable insights into races which helped me fine tune my analysis. Thank you!!! Thank you!!! Thank you!!!

... your thoughts ... ?

SC Politics 2006: Good campaigns, bad campaigns

This year, we saw some campaigns excel, and others flounder. Here’s my look at those who did good, and those who blew it:

“Did good”:
  • Andre Bauer, who pulled off a surprise win in the GOP runoff, and then held on in the face of a strong challenge by Democrat Robert Barber.

  • Thomas Ravenel, who first KO’ed two very strong GOP opponents in the GOP primary, and then blew out Grady Patterson. Patterson had scraped by with two close wins in 1998 and 2002, but not this time.

  • Richard Eckstrom, who held on in the face of negative publicity and an intense attack campaign by his Democratic challenger.

  • Jeff Willis on making the GOP runoff for Treasurer. He didn’t have a prayer of winning, but making the runoff, in spite of the circumstances, is something to brag about … and he spent a lot less than any other GOP candidate in the race to get there.

  • Jim Rex, who closed the gap with GOP candidate Karen Floyd, in spite of Floyd’s big lead in fundraising. Apparently, Floyd’s problems reached all the way back to her home county, and they made the most of it, by hanging tough until things broke their way.

    Now, maybe they’ll take me off their “Republicans for Rex” email list, but if they ever do another “Rex Rocks” event, I doubt I’ll get an invite.

  • Hugh Weathers AND William Bell, who faced off in the GOP primary for Commissioner of Agriculture. Both were exceptional candidates who ran good races, and made it one of the hardest ballot choices I’ve ever made.

  • GOP state rep Bill Cotty, who held on in spite of a two-way squeeze play by Anton Gunn, a hard-charging Democratic candidate, and perennial candidate Michael Letts. He was buried under tons of SCRG attack mailings, but when the smoke cleared, he held House District 79 by a couple hundred votes.

    ... and Anton Gunn, who made the most of the occasion to run a strong race. I get a feeling we'll be seeing more of him in the future.

  • Phillip Lowe, the GOP candidate for House District 60. The seat was considered a tough one for any GOP candidate, and he ended up winning it by twenty points.

  • The Dorchester County Democratic Party, whose superb GOTV effort which took out GOP state rep George Bailey, and were probably the best of any county party – Democrat or Republican – in the state.

  • My friends Terry Hardesty and Jimmy Hinson. Both took out incumbents on the Berkeley County School Board. Terry’s opposition brought in the major-league Stoneridge Group campaign consulting firm, and he still beat her. Jimmy Hinson ousted his opponent with the support of his ex-wife, Shirley Hinson.

    A driving issue in those upsets was the board’s decision to use “alternative funding” to finance school construction, which also led to the ouster of two of the four incumbents on the Dorchester school board in the Summerville area.

  • Paul Thurmond, whose unassuming approach to running for office on his own merits without attempting to hijack his father’s legacy and pass it off as his own (unlike a certain former statewide candidate), earned him a seat on Charleston County Council, ending the short-lived Democratic Council majority. This is one guy to watch ...

"Did bad":

  • Mike Campbell, who found that waving the Campbell name around failed to impress GOP regulars and that a sludge-slinging campaign against Andre Bauer did little more than give the Democrats a running shot at taking the office. Waging the kind of campaign that could have helped Democrats is not what Carroll would have done …

  • Greg Ryberg, who pulled the 2002 Treasurer’s race to a 52-48 finish in a strong race with great TV, then came back this year, raised a million bucks, added two mil of his own money, and still didn’t make the runoff. He’s a really great guy whose campaign never seemed to catch fire this time around.

  • Karen Floyd, who pulled off a close win in the GOP primary, raised a bunch of dough for the fall campaign, raised a bunch of money for her fall campaign, and created an air of invincibility … but then ended up in a photo-finish defeat by Democrat Jim Rex, who nobody (myself included) gave a chance of winning.

  • Drew Theodore, whose campaign attempted to make the most mileage of the least stuff I’ve ever seen against GOP incumbent Richard Eckstrom. As his father was a pretty decent guy, and he didn’t seem to wave around the family as Mike Campbell did, I expected him to have the humility to run a positive and construction campaign. Instead, we got an amazing amount of sludge.

  • GOP state rep Wallace Scarborough, whose gunslinging approach to dealing with late-night utility workers, combined with his “they’d be dead if I wanted to hit them” remarks unleashed a wave of negative publicity which his opponent, Democrat Gene Platt, took advantage of. Combined with cheap shot attack mailers from the SCRG, it took a guy who’d never even run close in a major race to within dozens of votes of prevailing.

  • GOP state house candidate Suzanne Piper, who ran for what was a safe GOP seat in House 119, and ended up blowing a twenty-point lead to lose by eight points. This gave Democrats three things to crow about – one, seeing the end of Rep. John Graham Altman, two – taking his seat, and three - winning a seat that had been comfortably in GOP hands for a generation.

… if any of you have recommendations, feel free to share them with us.

Talk about a paper-thin loss

The so-called "wave" of 2006 wasn't quite all it was cracked up to be. Especially since the Democrats were talking about scoring big gains early, but many races weren't called until hours after the polls closed, and several House races are still not called, 36 hours later.

Two Senate incumbents with big mouths screwed up their re-election bids, and with just a few thousand votes, the Democrats took control of the Senate. Hardly a mandate for "change".

As for what happened in the House:

One of the things that is different from 1994, is that in 1994 when Republicans won 56 House seats, all but a handful were won by a range of 10 or more percent. Last night if you look at the election, of those 28 House seats, 22 were won by 2 percent or less — 22 of the 28. And of those, 18 were won by less than 5,000 votes, and four of those by less than a thousand votes ... you can basically go back and say that we lost control of Congress by 11 seats. You’re talking about less than 50,000 votes.

This doesn't bode well for the Democrats in 2008, if the GOP numbers recover sufficiently. In the 1996 elections, much of the House margin the GOP won in 1994 was wiped out when incumbents who were swept into swing seats over-estimated their appeal and their voter bases, and then were booted out two years later for being too far from the political center.

In looking at some of these races, I see some of these seats will be held by "wing-nuts" who are too far from the political centers of these districts. If the Dems blow it in the next two years, then that 28 seat loss could be easily wiped out and then some in a similar manner.

If you want to read the rest of this short article from National Review Online, click here.

Can we do better?

PERSONAL NOTE: This will be my last post before Election Day. To be honest, after such a disillusioning year, I'm looking forward to having more time to spend with my grad school studies and my kids.

This year, I've attempted to provide some thoughtful political commentary, and poke a little fun at the political process along the way. Some of you have gotten the joke, some of you haven't - but either way, I appreciate those of you who've shared your thoughts here, via email, or phone calls. Let's keep the dialogue going ...

Elections are supposed to be about ideas. But 2006 has, for the most part, been the exception.

Voters are asked to choose between one party which protects pedophiles and corrupt politicians, while spending money like a drunken sailor, and another party whose message is simply “we’re not them”.

When you think about it, that’s not much of a choice.

You can argue these things aren’t true, but don’t try telling me that. Tell the voters around the country who are poised to throw the GOP out of power, and give control of Congress to a party which has failed to offer any sort of alternative vision or set of policies. In politics, perceptions, true or false, are often reality. People see scandals, perceive problems, and act accordingly. Who can blame them?

This year has seen an unprecedented barrage of negative campaigning in which the truth, respect for the voters, and ultimately, faith in our democratic system have been the ultimate victims.

We’ve failed to put ideas first, turned political races into personal sludgefests, and allowed Machiavellian political leaders and campaign operatives to justify the unjustifiable, distort the facts, and “do whatever it takes to win”. Along the way, we forgot that people should be able to vote FOR something, instead of voting AGAINST something. Far too often, we don't try to make things better - we simply look to see how we can manipulate facts and situations to our advantage, and don't give a damn what the long-term consequences are.

Who gets the blame? For those of us in the political system, we need only look in the mirror - Republicans and Democrats alike.

Our Republic, like none other in the course of human history, was built upon the hopes, dreams, and ideals of our Founding Fathers. Our political process should aspire to the same standards. No nation can hope to exist in contradiction with its founding principles for long.

We, Republicans and Democrats alike, can do better. Our communities, our state, and our nation deserves the best we, as Americans, can do.

Grady Patterson loses it

This fall, we've watched a sad display as State Treasurer Grady Patterson stumbles through his re-election campaign in the face of an aggressive challenge by Thomas Ravenel.

Should he lose tomorrow, it would be unfortunate that someone who has such an unmatched record of duty and service to his state and country, which included bringing defeat to the biggest threat to humanity, should end that service in defeat.

But if Grady Patterson's distinguished career ends tomorrow, it is not the fault of the voters who supported Ravenel, but rather Patterson in choosing to run again, or maybe his handlers who prodded him into seeking another term in office.

I can honor Patterson for what he has done, while voting for Ravenel. Which is exactly what I've already done, via absentee ballot. I'm sorry it had to come to that.

When I came to that spot on the ballot, I stopped to ponder Patterson's record of service. I wished there was some other way to allow Patterson to end his duty on a positive note.

But there wasn't, so I pushed Ravenel's button, and kept moving down the ballot.

Please join me in making that tough, but necessary, decision.

The picture at the right, is of Patterson asleep at a Budget and Control Board meeting, courtesy of Faith in the Sound.

Sunny Phillips at the Crunchy Republican brings us stunning video of an interview, making rambling and unsubstantiated allegations about Thomas Ravenel. These comments are also described in Brad Warthen's blog.

GOP losing Virginia Senate race while VAGOP leader campaigns in SC for 2008?

As George Allen, the GOP incumbent Senator in Virginia, slips behind his Democratic challenger and in doing so, threatens to throw the Senate to the Democrats, former Virginia governor and RNC chairman Jim Gilmore, will still be spending the last critical 48 hours of the 2006 elections here in South Carolina.

Attaboy Jim, that's really putting your team first.

If you meet Gilmore on his campaign swings through South Carolina, ask him how George Allen is doing.

Floyd to hold free campaign event

In a rare move, GOP Superintendent of Education candidate Karen Floyd is having campaign events in which attendees are not being charged to attend.

Turnout at these events is expected to be low, as many Republicans, used to being told "she has a busy schedule" of fundraising events, and can't attend various GOP events around the state, skip the event, finding it hard to believe that she might actually be having a free campaign event.

Check out her schedule at her website - - and see if she's doing one of these events in your neck of the woods.

You might want to go - it might be your one and only chance to meet her without having to pay to do so.

Maata's still proud of John Kerry

Randy Maata, the Democratic Party's candidate for the First Congressional District, is still darn proud to be associated with John Kerry, as evidenced by the fact this photo of him with Kerry is still on his campaign website:

If he wanted it off his website, he's had ample opportunity to have it removed. Maybe he's still proud to be associated with the guy, even after all that's happened - if so, I'm glad to help get the word out.

Those of you who are First District voters should keep this photo in mind on Election Day.

Grim Reaper endorses Moore for Governor

After praising Drew Theodore’s initiative to kill state workers through opposing asbestos removal, the Grim Reaper slashed his way into the Governor’s race, by announcing his support for Democratic State Senator Tommy Moore’s challenge to Governor Mark Sanford.

The Grim Reaper indicated the refusal of the Moore campaign to rebut comments by State Senator Jakie Knotts challenging Sanford’s criticism of the killing of unarmed protestors by law enforcement officers had much to do with his endorsement of Moore:

There is nothing wrong with killing people. The Governor was wrong to question this practice, and the Moore campaign was right in saying that Sanford had no right to call it wrong. This is an outstanding example of pro-death leadership.

In a recent meeting, Senator Knotts told Moore supporters:

“We don’t need a governor that’s running commercials on a radio station apologizing for what law enforcement has had to do in the past.”

The Grim Reaper dismissed concerns from the state NAACP leadership about the protestors being unarmed, and some shot in the back. “Who cares? If those stupid protestors didn’t want to get shot, they should have shut up and stayed on campus.”

Then he chuckled and added: “But I’m glad they went.”

Out-of-state money floods District 79 House race

For many of my readers, House District 79, which is located in Kershaw and Richland Counties, isn’t too far away. As this district touches I-77 and includes a nice chunk of I-20 between Camden and Columbia, many of us pass through it from time-to-time.

Being South Carolinians, we’re at least somewhat connected to the people of District 79, in the political sense: many of their issues of concern are shared by many around the state, their legislators vote on issues which affect us, and what our legislators do affects them. They are part of the shared realm that is South Carolina’s political culture, so it makes sense that we should care who they send to the legislature.

This year, District 79 is a three-way battle between a twelve-year GOP incumbent, Bill Cotty, Democrat Anton Gunn (a pretty decent and thoughtful guy in the emails that him and I have bounced back and forth) and petition candidate Michael Letts.

If Letts’ name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s run for that seat, and lost, as Republican three times before, as well as other offices in northeastern Richland County. After Cotty fended off a strong primary challenge, Letts decided to run for this seat … again.

Not only did Letts enter the race, but it seems as if his candidacy has allowed others to jump in, some from hundreds and thousands of miles away. If you click on the image to the right, you can see his contributors' report in full-size, showing all but one of his contributors from this filing cycle.

Political candidates often have friends, family or professional associations outside of the state, so it’s normal to see candidates getting a modest amount of out-of-state contributions. But when a staggering ninety-six percent of the Letts' campaign warchest comes from places which are no less than six or eight hours’ drive from South Carolina, it’s enough to make one wonder what is going on.

Of the $21,850 of contributions reported by Letts in his campaign finance report filed on Wednesday, just $850 was raised from South Carolina contributors - just under four percent of his total warchest. About half of his contributions came from two states - $5K from Pennsylvania and $6K from New York.

In fact, every single out-of-state contributor gave more than the total raised from in-state donors.

Why is this race so much more important to those who live outside of South Carolina than those who live here? How does the outcome of the race affect them … and what do they get out of electing Letts and ousting Bill Cotty, a twelve-year incumbent GOP legislator?

That’s a question worth asking those who’ve ponied up the bulk of contributions to fund Letts’ latest bid for this House seat. It’s also a question that the residents of District 79 may want to ask Mr. Letts.

As these contributors are giving the max to Letts’ campaign, they have to know him, and his history as a repeat loser. Either they have an amazing faith that this guy has suddenly transformed himself, or as we asked a few days ago, is this an effort to elect Gunn by splitting Cotty’s GOP voter base?

Whether they are seeking to elect Letts or Gunn, the outcome of the race may not affect these contributors very much. But it will affect those who live in District 79, as well as the rest of us here in South Carolina.

As always, your responses, either via email or blog postings, are welcome, especially if they can help shed some light on this matter.

... Democratic candidate Anton Gunn has promised to post comments, and we appreciate his taking the time from his campaign to think of us. Win or lose, he's a pretty thoughtful guy with a lot to say, and I hope he continues to say it here from time-to-time.

John Kerry's "Howl"

It seems likely that John Kerry put an end to his hopes of a comeback in 2008 with his recent "stupid people go to Iraq" remarks. Leave it to an educated man to do what Howard Dean did, but in a more eloquent manner than a simple rabid howl.

That wasn't a very "swift" thing to do ...

Gee, John, it's a real shame that some of us have to work for a living, instead of being smart enough to marry money, like you did.

This Republican hates Puppies

I saw this amusing innoculation television ad from GOP Senate candidate Michael Steele, addressing allegations that he hates puppies.

The "Ethics" of the SCRG

For a group whose name presents themselves as "responsible", the folks at the SCRG are quite puzzling in their adoration for funding high-volume attack campaigns. The more mud they throw, the bolder they get with the next round of sleaze.

But don't just take my word for it ... The State has also weighed in on the SCRG attacks.

It's far from the first time I've talked about their tactics this fall. In previous postings, I've looked at their shady tactics and distorted messages in the race for House Seat 115 and House Seat 119, both in Charleston County.

One of the targets of the SCRG is GOP State Rep. Bill Cotty in the Midlands, who faces a tough race with perennial candidate Michael Letts waging a petition candidacy on his right, and Democrat Anton Gunn on his left.

Outlasting such a squeeze play, in any event, is a tough proposition, but normally, a show of party unity bleeds a petition candidate on the right enough for the GOP candidate to make it through. But the direct mail attack campaign being waged by the SCRG is attempting to damage Cotty.

While their motives remain murky, many observers feel they are trying to aid Gunn's candidacy. We lean toward this theory, given Lett’s history of being repeatedly trounced in bids for this seat, as well as the history of petition candidates prevail in three-way races. To date, Letts has lost three races for this seat, as well as getting 38% in the GOP runoff for County Council two years ago. If Letts is a proven loser, then who else could they be trying to stack the deck for?

However, given Gunn's positions, including opposition to school choice, it's unlikely such an association is welcomed by the Gunn campaign, no matter how beneficial their attacks may be to his candidacy.

Their recent attack mailing against Cotty, entitled “Ethics Matter”, makes a number of questionable claims about Cotty:

Relationship with schools: As an attorney, Cotty provides legal counsel for a local school district. On the Education Oversight Committee, he is involved with overall policy review for the state. Two different bodies at two levels of government - so where's the conflict?

As a member of the SC Bar, Cotty is bound by their Rules of Conduct - to avoid conflicts of interest. Ass a public official, he is governed by the Rules of Conduct of the South Carolina Ethics Commission. Acting in his own financial interest is expressly forbidden:

A public official, public member, or public employee may not knowingly use his official office, membership, or employment to influence a government decision to obtain an economic interest for himself, a member of his immediate family, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is associated.

As both an attorney and public official, Cotty is overseen by very explicit guidelines, with some very serious consequences for violating them. It's doubtful that with two watchdogs, he'd do something so stupid, or at the very least, he wouldn't get away with it for long.

That his opposition has chosen to make a campaign issue about it, rather than seeking an investigation, does much to suggest these charges are hollow, or at least they’re more concerned about winning elections than seeing any allegations of wrong-doing addressed.

Liquor contributors: Again, more blurring. Many legislators receive contributions from individuals associated with groups or companies who are on the bad end of state policy-making. So long as there are no offers of "pay for play", there is nothing illegal. In fact, Cotty was opposed to keeping mini-bottles, a position strongly opposed by the liquor industry.

Again, if there really WAS a conflict, we refer back to the above quote from the Ethics Commission regarding acting to benefit one’s contributors. If they had something, they could have just turned him in. They didn’t – which says plenty.

Legislative Allowances and Expenses: The mailing attempts to claim that Cotty received allowances and expenses while residing nearby, which he does, as does any legislator who incurs expenses on the job.

For that matter, it is common for most people in their jobs to be reimbursed for expenses. So what? I'll bet employees of the SCRG expect to get paid too ...

Also, the footnote “5” in that claim refers to the Mapquest website. One who visits it will not find any information about South Carolina legislators there, only directions and travel time and distance estimates.

Based on their continual attacks, it seems a safe bet to expect there will more of the same being piled on Cotty.

It's a shame this is the best this bunch could do.

As the SCRG says in their mailer, ethics DO matter. However, it is unfortunate that they can't do a better job of embracing them.

Why vote for Joe Lieberman?

Since it's Halloween today ...

Beyond Politics: Five key South Carolina Issues

The website for The State outlines five key issues at which this state needs to address. While I disagree with some of their positions, I do agree that these are vital areas which deserve long overdue attention:

* We do need school choice. The State parrots the same uninformed mantra that it's taking away money from schools, while not mentioning that it is also reducing their cost of operation and giving parents less than the per-child funding, allowing the schools to retain "free" money with no costs associated.
* A Board of Regents or some centralization of higher ed policy making is long overdue.
* School choice offers competition, but only if we free public schools to compete on a level playing field. Freeing public schools from red tape and bureaucratic barriers has to happen, with or without school choice. This issue wasn't mentioned, but I'm throwing it in anyway.

Two South Carolinas:
* Addressing infrastructure, workforce development, and inclusiveness in governance - all good ideas.
* Governor Sanford was right about the Orangeburg Massacre. So long as one side ignore the other's points of view on racial and cultural issues, we'll never make progress. When Jakie Knotts ran his mouth about the apology being wrong, it said a lot about both him and Tommy Moore, as well as the challenges we face with this issue.
* This state cannot exist, as it does, in two very opposite worlds.

* I agree - we need to keep moving with this. Maybe not wholesale, but then again, the 1993 round wasn't wholesale. As in the private sector, restructuring should be a continual process to meet changing needs.

Economic Development:
* Hey Tommy, not chasing low-wage jobs, in the long run, is smart. Companies with low-wage jobs are the ones most likely to pick up in five years and move overseas. In the long run, our workforce needs to be able to do more than low-skilled, minimum wage jobs if we're to have a decent standard of living.
* South Carolina is becoming a key player in the automotive industry, and through companies like Santee Cooper, we're a major exporter of energy to other states. Clusters to build upon these strengths are smart, and in the long run, will draw more jobs and help educate and train South Carolinians for them.
* Commerce Department - spends less, recruits more. They're doing a good job. Let's work to build upon what they're doing right.

Taxes and Spending:
* Tax cuts aren't a bad idea, but let's face it - our fiscal house is shaky. In good years, collections outpace the economy and are squandered, and in bad years, they fall farther than the economy. Examining how to even out the revenue flow, and do a better job of conserving extra funds, is a good idea.
* Spending cuts can be good, but even better is a cost-benefits analysis. A lot of state programs would fail this test, but those that don't should be handled carefully.

Those are my thoughts ... now, I invite your thoughts and discussion on these issues.

While they are relevant in this year's election, I hope that come 2007, they're not thrown back into the basement until the next election. Our continued failure to address them has much to do with the problems that hold our entire state back.

Scary Democrats 2: Attack of the Killer Taxmen

Halloween season horrors rise from their graves ...

They're coming ... run for your lives!
The blood-sucking, life-stealing, hunt-you-to-the-grave Democratic Taxmen are coming for us all!!!!!

Special thanks to Sunny at CrunchyGOP for tipping me off about Zucker's latest "too hot for the RNC" video.

This one takes aim at the Democrats over fiscal policy, and it's a hoot. His first one, considered to aggressive for airing by GOP strategists, took aim at the Democrats over foreign policy.

Enjoy the video and have a great weekend!

State House races to watch, in summary

For those who missed my postings on the more competitive State House races (and who really care what I think), I'll repost a summary of them, along with some additional thoughts.

This was a three part series, in which I looked at races in the Upstate, Midlands, Pee Dee and Lowcountry. You're welcome to look them over and share your (respectful) thoughts ... and if you don't like it, don't follow me around in traffic about it:

Very competitive races:

  • District 29: DEM open seat in Chester, Cherokee, and York Counties
  • District 30: DEM incumbent in Cherokee County
  • District 45: DEM open seat in Lancaster and York Counties
  • District 60: GOP open seat in Florence and Sumter Counties
  • District 79: GOP incumbent in Kershaw and Richland Counties
  • District 97: GOP incumbent in Dorchester County
  • District 119: GOP open seat in Charleston County
Potentially active races:

  • District 7: GOP open seat in Anderson County
  • District 75: GOP incumbent in Richland County (added this one)
  • District 108: DEM incumbent in Charleston and Georgetown Counties
  • District 115: GOP incumbent in Charleston County
  • District 120: DEM incumbent in Colleton and Hampton Counties
Here are some "big picture" thoughts:

The last of the Upstate Democrats? Ten years ago, the GOP was just taking over the ex-urban counties of Anderson and York, and didn't even come close in Cherokee and Lancaster. Now, Districts 29, 30, and 45 represent three of the eight majority-white House seats in the Upstate held by Democrats. At this rate, it would not be out of the question to see the Democrats lose all the almost-fifty Upstate House districts, save a handful of majority-black districts, in ten years' time.

Stalemate on the Coast? A sort of stalemate exists in the Pee Dee, as well as the rural and urban Lowcountry, where there isn't much room for improvement. In the Pee Dee and rural Lowcountry, the GOP failed to reach out effectively to black voters and the Democrats rallied their formidible political base in these regions to knock out what few Republicans managed to pull off victories, before they could hope to dig in by establishing long-term incumbency. This will keep seats like 60 and 97 in play every election year.

Along the coast, poor GOP candidates and weak incumbents sometimes fall prey to the more selective voters that make up the regional GOP base - many of them aren't as strongly-wedded to the GOP label as Upstate voters are, and don't mind tossing a bad apple overboard. This seems to be the problem in the three House races in Charleston County - 108, 115, and 119. Unique circumstances in each are hurting GOP prospects this year, but normally, those races would be sleepers.

Overall, this points to the possibility that GOP gains in the State House have largely peaked with a membership range averaging in the mid-70s. From the looks of things this year, that won't change much. I say one or two seat shift, either way.

What do you think?