Showing posts with label election2012. Show all posts
Showing posts with label election2012. Show all posts

State Senate races to watch

Election Day is less than two weeks away. While many legislative races were settled in primaries, with the biggest surprise being the large margin of victory by which Sean Bennett defeated incumbent Senator Mike Rose for the District 38 seat in the Summerville area, there weren't a lot of the surprises and most incumbents are headed back to Columbia.

However, there will be a few more races this fall, mostly due to Republicans getting removed from the spring primary ballots and running as petition candidates.

While most races either have un-opposed nominees or uneven matches which will have easy winners and no impact upon the bigger political picture, there are several Senate races that we think are well worth watching in Senate Districts 2, 6, 20, 23, 28, 35 and 41:

The Battle for Interstate 80

Back in the summer, I predicted that the race for the White House would come down to a fight that would follow one of two Interstate highway corridors: Interstate 95, which runs down the Eastern seaboard, and Interstate 80, which runs across the center of the nation from New York to California.

I predicted that if Obama could force Romney to fight for swing states along I-95: Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Virginia, there would be no way that Romney could win, but if Romney could gain the upper hand in those I-95 swing states and go on offense in a number of swing states that straddle I-80, he would go into the last two weeks with a serious chance of winning.

With the battleground now shifting to the I-80 corridor from the I-95 corridor, Romney shattered the original Obama plan to use Florida, Ohio and Virginia as their electoral firewall, moved the battleground to a string of states along Interstate 80 and put the Obama campaign into an unexpected defense mode in a race which could go either way.

B.R. Skelton cut off by GOP?

Yesterday, the Blogland reported that the SCGOP Executive Committee endorsed Ed Harris, the petition challenger of Pickens County state Rep. B.R. Skelton, after Skelton pushed for legal action to have Harris disqualified after scoring a three-point upset over Skelton in the June GOP primary.

Harris was also endorsed by the Pickens County Republican Party.

But these aren't the only indications that the GOP is turning it's back on Skelton.

A look at Skelton's late-filed campaign finance report shows that he raised roughly eight thousand dollars, an amazingly low sum for an incumbent legislator. None of this money came from party sources, such as the House GOP caucus - but he did get $1000 from the South Carolina Education Association's PAC.

Creepy Copeland on the attack

This year, a scary monster is running around Charleston County, harassing and intimidating all who get in his way - and now he's hoping Charleston County voters will be fooled or intimidated into allowing him to get a seat on the county's school board.

After quitting a school board seat in downtown Charleston, Democrat Henry Copeland has donned different disguises, hoping to hide the monster inside. He's even tried to make people think he's not a Democrat - but pictures don't lie.

He also went after a Facebook group - "Henry Copeland is a Democrat" - which criticized him and getting Facebook to content that he disagreed with (some of this content has been discussed here and we've never heard from him).

State GOP rejects Rep. B.R. Skelton, endorses petition challenger

On Saturday, the South Carolina Republican Party Executive Committee voted to endorse Ed Harris for State House District 3 over the incumbent GOP state Representative B.R. Skelton.

Harris defeated Skelton in the June GOP Primary by a three percentage point margin, only to be removed from the ballot after Skelton threatened legal action against the leaders of the state and Pickens County Republican Party organization. 

According to a media release from Pickens County GOP Chair Phillip Bowers:

In an historic event, the South Carolina Republican Party endorsed Mr. Ed Harris for the 3rd District of the South Carolina House of Representatives today. This is the first ever endorsement of a petition candidate for House over the Republican listed on the ballot. Harris had been previously endorsed by the Pickens County Republican Party.

Through a series of legal maneuvers, the incumbent Republican, BR Skelton who has been in the House for 10 years, was able to secure a spot on the ballot even after losing the primary, and gain removal of Harris from the ballot, even though Harris decisively won the Republican Primary in June.

Harris faces Skelton again on the general election ballot as a petition candidate.

Walton Cartoon: "The Race"

Dems' sloppy hit-job mailing against Rep. Pitts: Loose on facts, big on spin

In the closing days of the race between Republican state Rep. Mike Pitts and Democrat Ed Taylor in House District 14, state Democrats decided to help their candidate out with an attack mailing, accusing Pitts of "bowing to Haley's demands" by voting for items on Haley's legislative scorecard.

We had a chuckle, first at the long links (haven't they heard of sites like, and then at the number of bills that passed with wide, bi-partisan support.

We're sure Democrats are hoping voters will make blind and uninformed assumptions about Pitts and his voting record, but in the Blogland, we're not that stupid. We looked at the bills listed on Haley's scorecard and the votes cast for each piece of legislation:

Petition legislative candidates continue to struggle in money race

In the closing weeks of the fall state legislative campaigns, the data from October campaign finance reports filed by candidates in twenty-five legislative races with petition candidates shows that most major-party legislative candidates will enter the final weeks in a much better financial position than most petition candidates.

Data from the updates showed major party candidates continued to hold serious financial leads over most petition candidates. Specifically, major-party candidates led petition candidates by six-to-one in cash on hand and had raised nearly double the cash raised by petition candidates since the mid-July reports were filed by all candidates.

Out of all fifty-nine candidates seeking these seats (thirty-three of them petition candidates), just five – only one petition candidate – raised more than twenty thousand dollars since the July reports and only ten candidates – all either Republicans or Democrats - reported more than twenty thousand dollars in cash-on-hand.

In fact, the overall picture has changed very little from when we looked at the results from the mid-summer campaign finance reports (pts. 1, 2, 3).

Midlands legislative races outraising candidates elsewhere in S.C.

While the slow economy has made campaign fundraising tough going for many candidates around the state, you couldn’t tell that from watching legislative races in the Midlands. 

According to the October campaign finance reports, Midlands candidates for six key legislative contests are largely doing well in their fundraising efforts, and much better than those running in high-profile races elsewhere in South Carolina.

In these races, the twelve candidates in the six Midlands races have raised roughly two million dollars for their races, averaging $166,792.20 per candidate, with only one raising less than $100,000. Only two went into the final weeks with less than twenty thousand on hand and seven of them had in excess of fifty thousand left to spend, promising plenty of additional fireworks in those races:

Ted Vick: Farm subsidy welfare queen

We know times are tough for a lot of people in rural areas, but it's looking like those looking for help might not have a friend in Ted Vick as he seems rather busy helping himself to tens of thousands of dollars of farm subsidies.

Since 2005, when Vick began serving in the State House, the Chesterfield County state Rep has reportedly received nearly forty-one thousand dollars in federal farm subsidies:

One can't help but wonder why these payments began rolling in the year he took office. But it wouldn't be the first time someone's raised the question of him drawing in income based upon political connections.

While we might understand the need to help those who have been hit hard by a recession, we don't think someone who can afford to party in Columbia, loan their campaign thirty-six grand, or have time to run for Congress should qualify as someone who's down on their luck.

If anything, Ted Vick seems to be riding high on the proverbial hog - and taking taxpayers for a ride.

Bernstein pimping Fair Tax falsehoods in District 78 race

A screen capture of the Bernstein and Bernstein 
law firm's website, where she's a partner,
which lists their some of their services
Two years ago, Democrats sought to mislead voters in several House races by distorting the substance of the South Carolina Fair Tax legislation and using it to attack Republican candidates who expressed support for the legislation or the concept it embodied. It's an attack tactic that dates back to the 2004 Senate race, when Democrats used it to attack now-Senator Jim DeMint.

This year, Democrats are using this "Fair Tax Scare" tactic again, misrepresenting the substance of the legislation and claiming those who back it want to raise taxes. The newest perpetrator is Democrat attorney Beth Bernstein, who is hoping to fool District 78 voters in her effort knock off incumbent Richland County Representative Joan Brady.

Struggling to overcome Brady, Bernstein has launched a late-stage TV attack ad blitz (the ad is shown below) that couldn't be more misleading about Brady's position on taxes.

But it seems as if Bernstein is no stranger to perpetrating, seeing as how her law firm, where she is a partner, makes good money helping perpetrators of a different stripe.

Mulvaney rallies support for Fifth District GOP legislative candidates

Two years has made a big difference for Congressman Mick Mulvaney. Two years ago, he was fighting a hotly-contested challenge to an incumbent Democrat who had defeated a string of GOP challengers. This year, he faces a token challenge from an unknown and underfunded opponent.

Two years ago, Mulvaney was seeking all the help he could get, but this year, he's giving help to others by endorsing legislative candidates. In a series of appearances, Mulvaney has endorsed four Republican legislative candidates seeking seats in the Fifth District:

Fake Freedom Works flyer circulated in Horry County House race

House District 56 shown in blue
The race for State House District 56 in Horry County has been known for being one with a lot of bad blood. In a series of lawsuits and legal maneuvers, Dennis DiSabato and Mike Ryhal, both Republicans who are running as petition candidates, have worked at least as hard to stop each other in the courtroom as well in the ballot box.

Not surprisingly, the race has taken yet another nasty turn as a door-hanger comparison piece which claimed to be paid for by the national conservative group FreedomWorks was distributed to households through the district.

When contacted by Paul Gable of the Grand Strand Daily website, Freedom Works denied any connection to the piece, pointing out their focus was upon national races. The group's claim is consistent with the group’s record in South Carolina politics, where its efforts played a key role in supporting the candidacy of Fifth District Congressman Mick Mulvaney, who toppled then House Budget Chair John Spratt (D-York) two years ago, thus is believable.

The piece reported Ryhal as responding to the survey and reported DiSabato as being non-responsive to the survey's questions. A color scan of the piece is presented below.

Democrat efforts to hold Dick Elliot seat flaming out

Since the 1991 redistricting shifted the bulk of State Senate District 28 to Horry County, retiring Democratic Senator Dick Elliot was able to fend off a string of strong Republican challenges. But it looks like Elliot's departure will likely ensure the GOP takeover of the last Horry County-based legislative seat left in Democratic hands.

Once Elliot announced that he would not seek re-election this year, Republicans recruited Solicitor Greg Hembree to run for the seat while Democrats recruited Butch Johnson, a local businessman who lost past bids for Probate Judge and the State House.

It appears that Hembree has waged a far more aggressive campaign for the seat than Johnson and is well-positioned to flip the seat to the GOP. According to the most recent campaign finance reports, Butch Johnson reported raising a total of $1294.90 and had a mere $1.50 on hand to face Hembree, who reported raising $36,073.05 and had $21,835.75 on hand.

Everyone we've talked with expect Hembree to score a solid win in a couple of weeks, reporting that Hembree has waged an aggressive campaign and built a solid base of support while Johnson has done little campaigning, mostly in the rural Democratic-leaning areas of the district.

Walton Cartoon: "Carrison's here, Where's Coleman?"

GOP TV ad heats up Lowcountry Senate race

With court rulings and ballot disqualifications behind them, Senate Republicans are going all-out to hold the seat once held by Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell and currently held by GOP Senator Walter Hundley, who won the seat in a recent special election and is not seeking a full-term.

As part of their efforts, they're sticking it to Democrat Paul Tinkler, using his record on Charleston City Council with a TV spot:

House 39 race: Second time's the charm for Ralph Kennedy

Two years ago, Ralph Kennedy, the GOP nominee for House District 39, ran for the seat and made it to the GOP run-off against the now-retiring incumbent. This year, he's leaving nothing to chance.

Coming off a strong primary win with 57% of the vote, Kennedy is proving to be one of the strongest state House fundraisers this cycle, raising over $26,000 since mid-summer and reporting over fifty thousand dollars cash-on-hand. That puts him ahead of most legislative candidates this cycle, including incumbents.

While he faces a petition opponent, who was a disqualified GOP primary candidate, numbers we've seen show Kennedy well-positioned to win the November contest for the open seat in Lexington and Saluda Counties. No doubt aggressive fundraising will help the former prosecutor and rural school board member will play a key role in locking in his win.

Where is Katrina?

District 23 is circled in red to make it easier to find.
It's generally expected that both incumbents and candidates focus on being in their districts as much as possible campaigning and keeping in touch with district residents.

But in the case of Katrina Shealy, who is making her second bid for Senate District 23, the only thing that seems more challenging than raising money and keeping vendors happy is finding her district, as we've seen her often campaigning at events far from Lexington County over the last year.

After the incumbent managed to turn a close primary finish for the seat into a run-off blow-out four years ago, one would figure she'd be locked down on her district with every waking moment - but that doesn't seem to be the case.

SC "Freshmen Four" well-positioned for big wins in November

While Democratic prospects to scoop up the state's new Congressional district seem increasingly dim, the traditionally best targets - Congressional freshmen - don't look any more vulnerable to Democratic challengers either.

For this, they can thank a combination of factors, including friendly districts, strong fundraising leads and weak opponents.

South Carolina’s four freshman congressmen say they want to continue to fight for limited government and reduced spending, while their Democratic opponents accuse them of contributing to gridlock in Washington. Republican Reps. Tim Scott, Jeff Duncan, Trey Gowdy and Mick Mulvaney discount that characterization, saying they were elected to stem spending. Their opponents face long odds, with little cash to spend on their campaigns in heavily conservative districts.

Of the four Congressmen, Duncan in the 3rd and Gowdy in the 4th District won't be impacted much by last year's redistricting, with both of their districts changed little in last year's redistricting, both shedding some of their more-distant and rural areas. However, the 1st and 5th Districts changed considerably in favor of their Republican incumbents:

Fundraising reports another sign of pending GOP romp in 7th District

Seventh District GOP congressional nominee Tom Rice isn't just taking a lead in polling in the race for the seat - he's also taking a strong lead in the money race, while Tinubu is nearly broke as the campaigns head into the final stretch in the race for the state's new Congressional seat.

According to the most recent FEC reports (due September 30), Rice is holding a sizable lead in cash on hand over Democrat Gloria "The Green Quitter" Tinubu, with $390,723 left to spend compared to $26,074 for Tinubu. 

Rice's has held a strong lead in the fundraising with $1,228,312 in contributions to date against just $190,826 in donations for Tinubu. While Rice loaned his campaign $100,000, Tinubu loaned her campaign most of it's total funds - $302,000. Having loaned that much to her campaign already, it's hard to see how she can afford to continue bankrolling her campaign.

While Tinubu was able to finance a strong primary campaign and promised that her campaign was "working very aggressively", the fundraising data is more evidence that her campaign has been dead in the water since she won the June run-off. 

Although the district's demographics gave Republicans a slight lead which some thought would give the right Democrat a chance to squeeze out a win, it's looking increasingly Tinubu is dead in the water, unable to stop Rice from surging towards the finish line with a stronger-than-expected finish.

Perhaps Tinubu's decision to give up her Georgia State House seat last year wasn't such a good idea after all.