Free Notary Public training seminars

One thing South Carolina has a lot of is notary publics (including us). While most of us rarely use our status as notaries, it's not a bad idea to have good understanding of the laws, requirements, responsibilities, etc. that we need to keep in mind.

To help us out, the swell folks at the Secretary of State's office is holding a series of free seminars around the state for current notaries, as well as those who may want to become notaries:

Secretary of State Mark Hammond is offering free notary public seminars July 10, 2008 through October 2, 2008 for all current South Carolina notaries public and those interested in becoming a notary public. The seminars will address state laws governing notaries, notary responsibility and liability, and penalties.

Registration at all seminars will begin at 5:30 pm. The seminars will begin at 6:00 pm and the course will conclude by 7:30 pm. Contact Pat Hamby of the Secretary of State’s Office at (803) 734-2512 or to pre-register.

Doug Smith's parting shot

After sixteen years, many of them as Speaker Pro Tem, Spartanburg's State Rep. Doug Smith is hanging it up and going home. We know it's not easy juggling family, work, and legislative service, and he's done it longer than most House members.

His departure, along with the upset of Rep. Bob Walker, who chaired the Education and Public Works Committee, as well as the retirement of John Hawkins, who also had over a decade of legislative service, will cost the county a lot of seniority. While in the House, length of service isn't everything, it is in the Senate.

It will be interesting to see the real impact of losing two House big dogs and two Senators all at the same time when next year's session gets rolling.

Back to Doug Smith ... his op-ed that ran in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal takes a strong shot at our favorite Spartanburg Republican, Rick Beltram:

I was never guaranteed my seat, nor did I ever expect the party chairman to protect or cover me if I had faced a primary. Once I was in office, however, I did expect the chairman to defend his local Republican elected officials - an expectation Beltram, as chairman, has consistently failed to meet.

Most know Beltram as a self-absorbed media hound who has never met a news release he wouldn't release. It is a pity hardworking Republicans have had to work in the shadow of someone who either doesn't understand the damage he does to our party, or doesn't care, or both.

A portrait of Ronald Reagan hangs in the S.C. House Chamber because of a resolution that I prepared and sponsored. I am normally a believer in Reagan's commandment not to speak ill of a fellow Republican, but when it comes to an extreme case like our local Republican chairman, someone finally has to speak the truth.


Watch out for farm tractors

One of the most important things to the Blogland is safety. We're grateful for our readers and want you to keep coming back every day, safe and sound.

This time of year, especially in rural areas, there's a lot of farm equipment on the road, and we join Hugh Weathers, our Commissioner of Agriculture, in urging you to be careful out there:

Hugh E. Weathers, South Carolina’s Commissioner of Agriculture, urges drivers to use caution when driving near tractors and other large farm equipment on the highways around the state.

Each spring and summer there is an increase of tractors and other large farm machines that travel South Carolina’s back roads as farmers work their fields. Every year there are collisions involving farm equipment and vehicles across the state and the Department of Agriculture encourages everyone to drive with care as they approach any farm machine on the road.

“Tractors and combines on the roads are a part of South Carolina,” Weathers said. “I urge all drivers to slow down, be patient behind large tractors that may be driving slowly, and pass with care.”

Supreme Court upholds Second Amendment, overturns DC gun ban

For those of you who are just tuning in, in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, a majority opinion of the Supreme Court overturned a handgun prohibition law, essentially ruling gun bans unconstitutional.

If you'd like to read the ruling, click here.

Ruling on the side of our constitutional liberties were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas. The majority opinion was penned by Scalia:

The basic issue for the justices was whether the amendment protects an individual's right to own guns no matter what, or whether that right is somehow tied to service in a state militia.

Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said that an individual right to bear arms is supported by "the historical narrative" both before and after the Second Amendment was adopted.

The Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home," Scalia said. The court also struck down Washington's requirement that firearms be equipped with trigger locks or kept disassembled, but left intact the licensing of guns.

Scalia noted that the handgun is Americans' preferred weapon of self-defense in part because "it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police."

- Yahoo/AP

Inside Interview: Phillip Lowe

Our Inside Interview this week takes a look at State Representative Phillip Lowe, who holds the Pee Dee region's House District 60, which reaches from the outskirts of Sumter up to the west side of Florence, roughly following U.S. Highway 76 (does one get their kicks on that Route as well?). He's a Republican who resides in Florence County, and is finishing his first term. He was elected with 60% of the vote to succeed retiring Republican Marty Coates.

1) How did you get into politics?

From an early age I have chosen to get involved in matters that interest me. From college days of class president to community involvement and serving boards of directors, I am know as someone who enjoys leading and solving problems.

In 2004 I came to the State house follow a bill from that would have effected my profession of physical therapy. I knew then, I wanted to become more involved.

When my representative decided to retire, community leaders and the Republican party approached me to run. After consultation with my friends and family, who unanimously advised me to not run, I did it anyway.

2) In looking back at your first two years, what would you say you've done to add value to the State House?

Several times I have looked up at the voting board and realized that I cast the one extra we needed to prevail. Freshman make the most difference in sub-committee where the details on bills are worked out.

Specifically, I worked hard on the small business health insurance premiums, immigration, prompt pay, DUI, and new hunting and fishing laws and several environmental bills.

3) Of the House seats in the state, yours is probably the most Democratic one which is held by a Republican. What do you learn about being a candidate and/or legislator in such a district that someone might not in a more Republican district?

My district is a blend of suburban and rural areas encompassing 700 square miles of Florence and Sumter Counties. Republicans from the larger cities generally do not have the same types of problems as my district. While some folks are securing funds for new museums and fine arts centers, I am trying to get the basic needs like sewer, water and libraries for my citizens.

Parts of South Carolina have a growing tax base with fine schools while small towns suffer from declining revenues, an aging population, dilapidated infrastructure, and failing schools.

Rural SC has a different set of problems that are largely ignored. As conservative as I am on spending, stopping growth of government, and reducing taxes, I still must represent my district and address basic human needs.

4) What do you see as the biggest challenges that you'd like to work on in your next term?

  • Job and Economic Growth
  • Educational Funding
  • Health Care
  • Protection of Family Values
  • Tax Reduction
  • Roads and Infrastructure
5) In the Blogland, we love our music. Tell us your favorite artist and/or album.

Old time is the Eagles and Skynyrd and Zeppelin

Today Three Doors Down, Match Box 20, Train, or anything Live

House leadership vacancies - the second shootout?

Make no mistake about it - this spring was a political shootout at the OK Corral, for control of the Legislature. Even though the dust is just beginning to settle from those races, the next shootout is about to begin.

One gang - the Governor, his legislative allies and special interest groups - fought it out with the other Republican "gang" of legislators. Many of the casualties were first and second term legislators, such as Catherine Ceips, Heyward Hutson, and Randy Scott, who hadn't secured their political bases. While the Governor's people scored some wins, a lot of the seats targeted by the Governor and his allies didn't go their way.

The next shootout between the two camps will be in the upcoming races for a whole pack of open House leadership slots, in which many of the candidates are either allies of the Governor or those who were unsuccessfully targeted by the Governor's crowd. In fact, we don't think we've seen this much turnover at the same time since the GOP took over the House after the 1994 elections.

We’re going to look at what’s open and who’s running – and see what you, our readers, have to say:

MAJORITY LEADER: Jim Merrill has been many of the things a Majority Leader should be – articulate, charismatic, and politically savvy. His decision to step down from this post has opened up a hotly contested race to succeed him: Mike Pitts from Laurens County, a retired police officer who is the star of Second Amendment advocates, Kenny Bingham from Lexington County, and Alan Clemmons from Horry County.

We jokingly dubbed Clemmons “The Waterboy” at this year’s GOP convention, but he’s a prodigious fundraiser, having run one of the first $100K House races ever run. His fundraising prowess could make him a strong asset to the House Republican leadership. Plus we appreciate his work ethic, as shown by his willingness to hit the convention floor, passing out water bottles to delegates.

Ok, we apologize for the bad joke there ... Clemmons is the guy on the left.

ASSISTANT MAJORITY LEADER: This seat is also opening up. We see a two-way race at present, between Florence second-termer Kris Crawford and Bruce Bannister, who surprised political observers by winning the Greenville County House seat that was vacated when former House Speaker accepted the prestigious ambassadorship to Canada. Crawford is seen as the Sanford ally in this race. Now the two are going to see who can get on the fast-track for even higher leadership slots.

LCI CHAIRMAN: Current Chair Harry Cato, from Greenville County, is moving up in what seems to be an uncontested bid for Speaker Pro Tempore, which opens up a three-way race between Lexington Rep. Nikki Haley, ranking committee member Oconee Rep. Bill Sandifer, and Charleston Rep. Wallace Scarborough.

Sandifer turned back a well-funded challenge from the Governor's allies, while Haley is well-known to be a strong Sanford ally. Scarborough is seen as somewhere in between the two, but faces what is expected to be a strong re-election challenge which he will have to win before he can seek the slot.

EDUCATION AND PUBLIC WORKS CHAIRMAN: Initially this race was intended to be a showdown between Bob Walker and Ted Pitts from Lexington County. But the 19 people who gave Walker’s challenger an upset win in the GOP primary changed that, and the race is now a four-way affair.

While Pitts may have been an early post-Walker favorite, he has been identified as the candidate most closely aligned with Governor Sanford, which we were told has cost him some support. In the realigned open race, B.R. Skelton and Bill Whitmire, both of whom survived well-funded attacks by Governor Sanford’s allies in the recent GOP primaries, have also begun testing the waters.

The wild card in this race is Mike Anthony, a Union County Democrat who is well-liked by Republicans. Keep in mind this committee had a Democratic chair even after the GOP took over the House in 1994.

It would seem that should any of the candidates than Pitts become the next Education chair, it would be a stinging and costly rebuke for the Governor’s crowd, who invested a small fortune to knock Walker off in hopes of getting a more friendly leader of that committee.

AGRICULTURE CHAIRMAN: For some, Green Acres may be the place to be. For others, the place to be is the chairmans's seat on the House Agriculture Committee.

The current holder, Bill Witherspoon from Horry County, is retiring, and a three-way races is developing for the job. Dwight Loftis from Greenville County seems to have a good shot at the seat, having been in the House since 1996, as compared to Jeff Duncan from Laurens County, who was elected in '02 and Nelson Hardwick from Horry County, who will be starting his second term in the House.

We did have someone offer us $20 to say nice things about Jeff Duncan. He seems to be a nice enough guy, but come on, we don't take payoffs here. Just free beer.

YOUR TURN … what do YOU think? Sound off in the comments section. We’d love to hear what you’ve heard, or what you think of the candidates and our analysis of these developing leadership races.

2008 runoff recap

We called it right in all three of our Senate guesses – Jakie Knotts won by a bigger margin than expected, Ritchie got slaughtered, and Lee Bright pulled off a close victory, building on his strong 2004 challenge to John Hawkins. All three Senators have our congratulations for jobs well done in their candidacies.

Dee Compton, the GOP nominee for the Greenwood-area Senate seat being vacated by John Drummond, has our congratulations for his 2-to-1 runoff victory and our best wishes for what will be a tough fight this fall.

SCRG came up short in its efforts to pick up extra House seats with Tom Young winning the Aiken House seat and David Herndon in the Midlands. One has to wonder if Herndon won’t be facing a petition candidacy from the local perennial loser. We understand Rep-elect Tom Young is a friend of the folks over at Voting under the Influence.

Since many of their House candidates failed to win, one has to wonder if the SCRG’s high-dollar game plan of pouring in massive barrages of phone and mail will be reconsidered in favor of other approaches.

As further vindication of the theory that hard work and grassroots work trumps the big boys and big bucks … in the Democratic race for House Seat 111, being vacated by Floyd Breeland (a really nice guy), Wendell Gaillard, a Charleston City Council member and union leader, pulled off a win in the runoff against primary frontrunner and Clyburn staffer Clay Middleton. Wendell isn’t the most polished guy, but he’s a straight-shooter with a good heart.

Other winners on the Democratic side … Williamsburg Rep. Ken Kennedy, Rep. Creighton Coleman advances to the general election to replace retiring Senator Linda Short, and Rep. Curtis Brantley survived a primary challenge from the guy he booted from the seat two years ago … a race where the Black Caucus backed the white challenger over the black incumbent.

Our State Senate Runoff picks: Knotts, Martin, and a Toss-up

We’ve been sitting back, doing a little traveling, watching a lot of movies, and watching the runoff races boil in the Upstate and Midlands as three Senate races – one open seat and two incumbents – have turned into all-out wars. For those of you who care what we think (but never just take our word for anything, it’d be like taking candy from strangers), here’s our Senate Run-off picks:

Knotts wins in Lexington County:

Two weeks ago, a lot of people were expecting Katrina Shealy to continue building momentum into the second round of voting in this race. Indeed, we believe that if the run-off vote had been held in the first 48 hours after the primary, Knotts would have lost.

Shealy's primary campaign seemed to run smoothly, aided by tons of outside money and a well-focused message which challenged years of Knotts' attacks on the Governor and his bull-in-the-china-shop approach to politics. However, the dynamics of the race seemed to have changed as Knotts has – at long last - begun to get some lucky breaks. The first of these was when the third-place primary candidate, who everyone expected to come out for Shealy, ended up giving a surprise endorsement to Knotts.

While Governor Sanford and Senator DeMint came out for Shealy, Knotts received the endorsement of Congressman Joe Wilson, the numero uno Republican in Lexington County politics, along with Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, whose support among the core GOP voters who will comprise much of the run-off turnout, has always been strong. We’re betting that Wilson and Bauer beat Sanford and DeMint when it comes to winning the hearts and minds of run-off voters. Especially as poorly as the Governor fared in his re-election primary in Lexington County.

The last weekend, a number of legislators who had survived knock-off attempts by the Governor’s allies were sighted walking and making calls for Knotts. No doubt they were eager to see the Governor lose his most high-profile runoff fight, right in his backyard.

In the race which will give the winning side tremendous bragging rights, we expect that Jakie Knotts will win re-election, and might just win it by more than a couple of points.

Martin trounces Ritchie in Spartanburg:

A year or so back, when Senator Jim Ritchie began testing the waters for a possible statewide candidacy, he should have considered how it would be received back home. Two strong challengers came out of the woodwork, hoping Ritchie would not be seeking re-election, and a lot of voters didn’t believe he would be sticking around for an entire term, if re-elected. So almost two-thirds of them voted for Ritchie’s challengers. So many that Ritchie finished a distant second and came within a few dozen votes of seeing Shane Martin knock him out in the first round.

This round won’t even be close. Shane Martin will win this one easily.

Whoever talked Ritchie into considering a statewide run really screwed him good.

Bright and Talley fight down to the finish line:

Lee Bright is a hell of a tough customer. Four years ago, he almost knocked out John Hawkins, the now-retiring incumbent Senator. This time around, we weren’t surprised to see him in a runoff for the open seat, finishing a close second place behind current Representative Scott Talley.

In the runoff, Bright was endorsed by the third-placer, who got a little over ten percent of the vote. While that endorsement may have given him a little nudge towards the 50% mark, we’re not sure if Sanford’s endorsement helped.

One should keep in mind that both candidates for House seats within that Senate district who were backed by Sanford and Sons – Ken Roach and Roger Nutt – lost their bids by modest margins in spite of high-dollar third party campaigns waged to help their candidacies. Spartanburg voters have been known to be tough customers who generally favor less politically-extreme Republicans than GOP voters elsewhere in the Upstate.

In any other situation, we’d say Bright has the advantage, but Talley is an aggressive campaigner who has pushed hard and even gone on the attack with some pretty hard-hitting TV spots. We believe this race will be close, with turnout and an effective ground game being the key to the outcome of this race.

By midnight, we’ll know who won and who lost. In the meantime, don’t touch that dial ...

South Carolina tomatoes are SAFE!!!

Good news for Blogland readers - South Carolina home-grown tomatoes are not only the best tomatoes in the world ... they're also safe to eat and free of suspicion in the recent reports of contamination:

Have you had your “red” today? For years, nutritionists have encouraged us to put a rainbow of fruits and vegetables on our plates every day to stay healthy. Fruits and veggies in the red group help maintain a healthy heart, memory function, a lower risk of some cancers, and urinary tract health.

What better way to start the summer than with luscious South Carolina grown tomatoes which are just beginning to arrive at local markets throughout the state.

The good news is that South Carolina grown tomatoes have NOT been associated with the recent salmonellosis outbreak. One reason is that South Carolina growers and others in the industry use both good agricultural practices and good handling practices when producing, packing, and shipping produce.

We've long been big fans of Commissioner Hugh Weathers' "Certified South Carolina" agricultural marketing campaign, but this certainly is another boost for the program. Thanks to South Carolina farmers, we'll be able to shop home-grown with confidence that we're getting the best and safest food in the world!

Wild, drunken party busted. No legislators found.

We couldn't help but chuckle at this story that showed up in the Beaufort Gazette:

A vacant Bluffton house was the scene of a skinny-dipping booze fest for local high school students last week, according to a Beaufort County sheriff's report released Tuesday.

Just before midnight Thursday, the neighbor walked over to the home's pool area, which sent the teenagers -- many of them naked -- scattering in all directions.

They left behind a mess of spilled drinks, liquor and beer bottles, plastic cups and other trash both in and outside the home. The home's mailbox had been broken off and thrown into the pool. New carpeting was caked with footprints.

Which leads us to wonder where Will Folks is at this week, while on his honeymoon?

Something neat to visit - Peachtree Rock

Workforce quality key to Upstate's future

In a tour of the Upstate, Jeffrey Lacker, the chair of the Richmond district of the Federal Reserve, made a number of visits and speaking appearances. In talking with the Greenville News, he praised the progress that had been made in shifting the Upstate's economy away from its traditional textile base:

It's been tremendous progress that's been made, and there's some vibrancy here to offset some of the really devastating losses that occurred earlier in this decade and late in the '90s in the textile industry.

While he pointed out a number of strong assets, such as the heavy presence of the automotive industry and Clemson's ICAR facility, he also warned that such benefits would not last unless the Upstate addresses critical shortages in skilled labor:

"The big challenge is going to be the work force, and enough skilled workers, enough high school grads, enough people with two- and four-year degrees to meet the needs of the developing industry

It was a pretty good story, and we think you need to read the rest of it to see what Mr. Lacker had to say.

Inside Interview: Charlie Lybrand, Charleston County RMC

With the primaries over, our Inside Interview series will be resuming, giving you a look at more of the movers and shakers who make up the sum total of our state's political and governmental realms.

Charlie Lybrand is a veteran of nearly twenty years of GOP politics. Behind Senator Glenn McConnell and Sheriff Al Cannon, he’s one of the longest continually-serving Republicans in office in the Lowcountry. He started out on Charleston County Council, and in 1994, upset the incumbent RMC in the Republican Primary. Charlie is currently serving his 4th term in this office.

We've watched Charlie from the sidelines. In Lowcountry politics, he's seldom front-and-center in politics, but you can bet he's almost always there, ready to speak up or lend a hand when necessary.

RMC is the commonly-used term for "Register Mesne Conveyance". You'll only find these offices as stand-alone elected offices in larger counties. In smaller ones, the functions of office are handled by the county's Clerk of Court.

#1 ... Tell us a little bit about yourself.

This August I’ll be 62 years old. This Monday June, 16, 2008 my wife and I will be celebrating our 40th Anniversary. We have two grown children, Whitney Hannam and Wesley Lybrand. Whitney and her husband of five years have given us a wonderful grandson Oliver Clayton Hannam (Ollie to his friends) who is 16 months old. Whitney is 28 and teaches 2nd grade in the Greensboro N. C. public school system. Our son Wes is employed by Kiawah Island Company and is working as a bartender at the Night Heron Community Club. Wes hopes to be an Events Planner one day.

My wife (Phrona) and I are high school sweet hearts. We both attended Chicora High, from there I attended the Citadel where I was drafted into the United States Army in 1967. Back then if your grades weren’t up to par and you had two arms and two legs, you were Viet Nam material. I joined the Army for an extra year for additional training and then went straight to South East Asia (Viet Nam). My wife and I were married on my 30 day leave before I shipped overseas. We were married for 10 years, almost 11, before Whitney came along. Four years later Wes was born.

I went into business for myself in 1979. I owned Precision Builders which did Renovations and Remodeling work in the Tri County area. About twenty years ago, we moved from Wando Woods in North Charleston to a new home I had built in Rantowles or as I call it Red Top Heights. We built a house that mirrored Phrona’s grandparent’s home in St. George. Wood siding and wrap around porches. Nothing fancy just an ole farm type house.

We have had three Boykin Spaniels. Beau who is our current Boykin is the love of our life. Who could ever believe a dog could give as much love and be such a large part of a family. Beau and his bride (Mollie) have just had puppies. My wife insists that we bring one of the puppies home, she wants to call him BJ or Beau Jr.

We attend Seacoast West where I am very active in the First Touch Ministry. I have been to Honduras 5 or 6 times on mission trips and I went with our church to help out in Pass Christian, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. I am also President of the Low Country Miata Club. We have a 2006 Black MX5 Miata.

#2 ... How did you get involved in politics?

Politics started back in Boy Scouts where I was a troop leader, then President of our Explorer group, then President of the Hi-Y in high school. After the military, I was President of the Civic Club in Wando Woods and Administrative Board Chair at Cherokee Place United Methodist Church. That was back when North Charleston just beginning to annex unincorporated property. I was opposed to our area being annexed by North Charleston.

After the election, I was asked to serve on the Cooper River Parks and Playground Commission. I served there for 7 years before being asked to serve on the North Charleston Sewer Commission. I enjoyed public service and thought I might be an asset to County Government so I ran for County Council in 1984 and lost. Six years later I ran for County Council again and won.

At the time my business was doing great and I felt like for those who had been given much, much was expected. So I put my whole heart and soul into the Council. Hindsight being 20/20, I can tell you I neglected my family and my business. Both suffered because I thought I was important and my service to the community was a necessity. I was wrong on both accounts. I thank God that my wife didn’t leave me and my children didn’t stop loving me. As the four year term came to a close, my business was not so good anymore and my family was hoping I would not run again for Council.

We joke about my wife telling me that if I wanted to run for County Council again, I should file for Office and file for divorce at the same time. It never did come to that but I really enjoyed Public Service so I offered for the Register Mesne Conveyance Office (RMC) and was lucky enough to win. That was back in 1994. Since that time under my leadership, we have gone through two major upgrades. The Charleston RMC Office was the first in the State to scan (image) every document that was recorded. We were also the first RMC office in the State to go on the Internet.

Our douments go back to 1719 and they are currently be scanned for longevity and will also be put on the World Wide Web. Since then we have continually led the State in technology and are in the final stages of a new system that will allow the document to be book and paged as it is recorded. The document will also be bar coded and imaged the same or next day and be mailed back to its maker. We will enter data from the electronic image from a split screen monitor. This new technology will end up saving thousands if not millions of dollars over the long run by letting the computer do the work of 5 or 6 employees. I expect this new technology to reduce our need for so many employee but I have committed to no one losing their jobs.

I have worked out a plan where RMC employees who are no longer needed here will be transferred to other jobs in the County.

#3 ... With a political career that goes back literally over decades, you are presently one of the longest-serving Republicans in public office in the Lowcountry. What are some important lessons you’ve learned from such political longevity?

Political Longevity is not something you think about, until you look back on it and say “has it been that long?” I have always been one to understand that politics is a game of addition and not subtraction. I like people and I hope they like me. I have also learned you can’t continually burn bridges. People expect you to stand up for what you believe and vote or act that way but you can’t be negative all the time. I also believed that you must be seen and heard by the people who put you in Office.

So many politicians get elected and then just go away not to be heard from until it’s election time again. I attend the monthly Executive meetings, I am a member of the East Cooper Republican Club, the First Monday Republican lunch and I try an attend the Charleston County Republican Women’s Club as well as the Sea Island Republican Women’s Club. The evening clubs are harder because I like being at home with my wife, but I understand the need to be at these meetings. The folks who are members of the auxiliary clubs are just ordinary folk who want to help the Republican cause and I think Elected Officials should be at as many of these social functions as they can.

#4 ... are you comfortable about where the GOP is headed, and why do you feel that way?

I am not comfortable with the direction of the GOP. I think we have lost our vision. I don’t have a clue what Sen. John McCain stands for. In the name of non-partisanship, we have blurred the lines so badly between the Parties that I don’t know what a National Republican stands for. That may make a lot of my Republican Colleagues mad, but that’s how I see it.

We must have a plan to make this great Country of ours Energy Independent. I don’t hear it.

We must have true immigration plan that requires everyone in this country to follow the rule of law. Last year, it was our Republican leaders that led the fight for Amnesty for illegals. I don’t get it.

The Republicans at the national level spend money like “drunken sailors” like Alaska’s bridge to no-where. That was a Republican Senator behind that boondoggle.

All colors, faiths, nationalities and beliefs must be welcome in our Party otherwise it will become the lily white country club party that can not get elected. We must learn to rally around what unites us and not what divides us with the exception of the two things that have always been the strongholds of Republicanism; a strong military and our belief that the unborn child has a right to life. We can’t waver on those to ideals.

Other than that I am pretty happy. Yeah, right.

#5 ... You've been office longer than most in the Lowcountry. With two years left in your present term, do you know what you're going to do in 2010?

I’d plan to stand for re-election once again. I like my job. Plus, I can’t afford to be a Wal Mart greeter quite yet.

I plan to keep the Charleston RMC Office on the cutting edge of Technology and stay right here until I retire. That might change if our Congressman decided to retire. I support Henry Brown completely and think he is doing a great job but if he were to quit, I might take a serious look at that position. I’d really like to try and straighten out some of that mess in Washington. Knowing full well that one little freshman congressman can’t do much, but I’d sure like to try.

Congratulations, Will

Today, our best wishes, prayers, and congratulations are with South Carolina's numero uno political blogger Will Folks.

It seems as if the guy is really getting married this morning.

When the Palmetto State's most eligible bachelor is getting married, it's a sign of hope for the rest of us singles (the competition is greatly reduced, allowing even us twice-divorced losers a little glimmer of hope) ... and a warning that hundreds of heartbroken women will likely be hurling themselves from bridges, ledges, and cliffs across South Carolina by sundown.

We hope they don't. If they're single, heartbroken ... and rich ... we hope they'll give us a call and not waste the potential of their bank accounts ... uh ... lives.

Seriously, Will, you're a good guy and we respect your work and your talents. You have our very best wishes and prayers for a joyous and fruitful marriage, as well as a great honeymoon.

But being twice divorced, just promise you won't ask us for marital advice, ok?

We'll see you back soon.

Representative Erickson gets results with "Lauren Gentry" law

Those who say a freshman legislator can't really hope to get much done, other than learn where the restrooms and free dinners are at, should take lessons from Shannon Erickson, Beaufort County's hard-working freshman State Representative.

In the closing days of this year's legislative session, her "Lauren Gentry" bill made it through the Senate and onto the Governor's desk. This new law will help protect the rights of South Carolina students who are victims of those predators and bullies on campus.

While we were glad to do our part to help move the bill through, the bulk of the work was done by Erickson, with the help of some compelling testimony from Ms. Gentry.

Representative Erickson saw a real problem and acted to do something about it. That's what leadership is all about. For a first-year legislator, this kind of hands-on commitment to getting results is impressive, and it's a good way to assess her long-term potential to grow and become a real leader in the State House.

Ed Koch: The Special Bond Between Catholics and Jews

Recently, I ran across this op-ed penned by former NYC Mayor, Ed Koch. Like many Jews and Catholics, he may be non-practicing, but still holds his faith and his identity within that tradition near and dear. It seemed worth sharing:

I have always believed that there is a special bond between Jews and Catholics, and have made it a personal and professional priority to strengthen that bond. In the modern era, the relationship between Jews and Catholics became solidified with Vatican II under Pope John XXIII.

More recently, the bond was further strengthened during the reign of Pope John Paul II who made clear his love and respect for the Jewish people by referring to us as the "elder brothers." Pope John Paul II extended Vatican diplomatic recognition to Israel, rejecting the threats of those who he called "Koranic" opponents. His closeness to the Jewish people was demonstrated by his recognition that the special bond that existed between God and the children of Israel is an enduring one.

You can read more of Koch's op-ed by clicking here.