“One of South Carolina's finest examples of the Greatest Generation”: John Drummond, Distinguished Outgoing Senator

In recent years, most of the last of the World War II generation of state leaders have faded away into retirement, such as former Senator Strom Thurmond and Treasurer Grady Patterson. Citizens who first served their country on foreign battlegrounds, state political figures like Senator John Drummond learned the meaning of duty and commitment under far more difficult conditions than anything seen in South Carolina politics.

When we’ve talked with people from Greenwood, we’ve heard many a story about Senator Drummond – not the politician, but rather as a POW and senior American officer in a German POW camp during WWII. Many of these stories told us of how the Germans came to find out that the boys of Greenwood County don’t bend and never break.

According to his legislative bio, here is a summary of his WWII military service:

Mil. serv.: 263rd CA, 1939-41; (USAF, 1943-47) Fighter Pilot, Capt. 405th Fighter Bomber Group England, France, and Germany, 1944-45, Decorated Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart twice, Air Medal nine times, three Battle Stars & Presidential Citation.


As with many politicos who came back from WW2, Drummond’s political outlook was tempered by a time in which he "never saw a young man die as a Democrat or a Republican, but as an American." That spirit of bipartisanship earned him the respect of Republicans and Democrats alike, including retiring House member Bill Cotty, a Republican from Richland County:

John Drummond is one of South Carolina's finest examples of the Greatest Generation. After his remarkable military service and demonstrated heroism in WWII, Sen. Drummond proved himself equally adept at business and politics in a career that to a large degree molded SC history in the second half of the 20th Century. All those who have had the honor to know and be friends with this fine gentleman will attest that his love for our Country and State were only surpassed by that he held for his dear wife who passed away several years ago.

Joel Lourie, considered one of the state’s rising Democratic stars, had this to say about Senator Drummond:

I am proud to call John Drummond my colleague, my hero and my friend. Generations to come will benefit from his service to our country and state. He is one in a million.

Longtime GOP campaign operative and blogger Brian McCarty at Voting Under the Influence also praised Drummond:

John Drummond is a legend in his community for his service to his country and his service to the state. Last year, my grandmother, ailing from Parkinson's disease, saw fit to fight to make her community in Ninety Six drug free. Among the leaders she called was John Drummond.

Why Drummond? Because he was known in the community to be able to get things done.

Drummond earned that reputation with his work in the SC legislature. My alma mater, Lander, called its sports teams the Senators for over 30 years in honor of the efforts Drummond made to make sure Lander stayed open as a state institution of higher learning.

Drummond is one the last old lions of South Carolina politics who worried less about party politics and more about serving the people he represented. Drummond supported Republican Presidents and worked with Republican Governors, all the while staying true not necessarily to his party, but the people who elected him to office.

Senate Democratic Leader John Land shared this story about the Senator from Drummond:

Senator Drummond and I used to sit next to each other in the Senate chamber. He and I really never spoke to one another. He was the known as the maverick of the Senate and we were often on opposite sides of the issues and engaged in heated debates.

This period of silence went on for good while early in my career in the Senate. One Thursday afternoon as the session was closing down for the week, Senator Drummond complimented me on the shirt I was wearing.

“John, that’s a nice shirt. Where’d you get it?” asked Drummond.

I told him from my haberdasher in Sumter. And that was it for our rare and brief conversation.

Over that weekend, I picked up two shirts and brought them with me back up to Columbia. I left them for Senator Drummond on his desk in the Chamber. We’ve been friends ever since.

A lot of folks said Senator Drummond could not be bought, he’s a maverick. But I got him for the cost of two shirts.

Phil Bailey, director of the Senate Democratic Caucus, has worked with Drummond for the last few years:

Working with Senator Drummond has been one of greatest opportunities I’ve had in politics. He’s been like a grandfather – telling great stories and keeping things in perspective.

I’m looking forward to continuing our regular lunch dates in Ninety-Six for a long-time to come and working with him to help Mayor Floyd Nicholson win the District 10 seat this fall.

The departure of Senator Drummond is not just the end of a political career, it is the end of an era in South Carolina politics and history. There is much to learn from his life and his times, and we are proud to recognize and honor his service.

Many will say they don’t make leaders like John Drummond anymore, and we’d agree with them. But we sure wish there were a lot more like him.

Kasparov challenges Obama to stand up to Russia

Garry Kasparov, a well-known former Soviet dissident and current Russian political opposition leader, challenges Barack Obama to stand up to Russia, as well as other authoritarian regimes:

Berlin is an ideal place for an American president, even a would-be president, to speak to the world about freedom and shared values. Barack Obama's recent visit evoked the famous speeches of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan that defended the U.S. stance against the Soviet Union and tyranny in Eastern Europe. Both the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union are now gone, but dangerous, nuclear-armed dictatorships are not. Sadly, Mr. Obama declined to mention this in Berlin.

The stage for his disappointing performance was set several weeks ago, when the Illinois senator rejected John McCain's proposal to eject Russia and exclude China from the Group of Eight (G-8). Mr. Obama's response during a July 13 interview on CNN -- "We have to engage and get them involved" -- suggests that it is impossible to work with Russia and China on economic and nuclear nonproliferation issues while also standing up for democracy and human rights.

It has repeatedly been shown that the exact opposite is true.

“A new level of enthusiasm”: Shane Massey, Outstanding Freshman Senator

When longtime Democratic Senator Tommy Moore chose to give up his Senate seat to take up the cause of predatory lending, a large pack of candidates stepped forward to run for this Senate seat, which includes parts of Aiken, Edgefield, McCormick and Saluda Counties. After a heated GOP primary and run-off, as well as a nail-biter of special general election, Republican Shane Massey, whose campaign to “shake up Columbia” we eagerly endorsed, had prevailed. Since then, he’s made a strong impression upon many in Columbia, which is why we’re recognizing him as the Blogland’s Outstanding Freshman Senator.

One of his first acts was to sponsor legislation to put an end to earmark spending in the state budget, a key campaign promise which he eagerly kept. He is also a hard worker back in his district, eagerly giving out the number to his cell phone, which he calls a “24-7 constituent service hotline”. With a passion to address big problems, as well as pay close attention to matters back home, Massey has a balanced perspective towards the job of being a Senator which has received considerable praise.

Fellow freshman Paul Campbell praised Shane’s willingness to work with Senators in both parties, something which allowed Moore, his predecessor, to be a very effective Senator. He also pointed out:

Shane’s background as an attorney allows him to help us understand the legal ramifications of legislation before the Senate. He’s come a long way quickly.

“It’s encouraging to see such a bright and energetic new face in the Senate,” said Senator Larry Grooms, the Chairman of Transportation Committee. “Senator Massey has brought a new level of enthusiasm to our chamber."

Wesley Donehue, long-time Blogland fan and Midlands GOP political strategist had this to say about the freshman Senator:

Shane Massey is the hardest working candidate I've ever worked with. The guy's a machine. He knocked on over 10,000 during the election and as a State Senator, he's made constituent service his top priority. The voters of District 25 have a real workhorse shaking things up for them in Columbia.

Last, but not least, Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler, with three decades of service in the Senate, had this to say about Massey:

During my twenty-eight years in the State Senate, I've met few as hardworking and eager to shake things up as Senator Shane Massey. He started ruffling feathers even before his first day in the Senate when he introduced legislation to eliminate so-called earmarks. Senator Massey stands up for what he believes in regardless of the political consequences.

Senator Shane Massey has met and exceeded expectations for a freshman Senator, and has earned the respect of many both inside and outside of the Senate. He’s worked hard for his district, as well as the best interests of the state as a whole, and in doing so has earned our recognition as our Outstanding Freshman Senator for this legislative session.

We hope Massey's constituents will recognize the value he gives them and will give him another four years to continue building upon what has been an outstanding beginning in the Senate.

Statewide general election filings

Here's something cool to go check out:

Gary Coats over at The Conservativist, a Spartanburg blogger, has put together a listing of the state and federal candidates, from top to bottom, including web links for a bunch of them.

If you want to see who's running and check out their websites, or see if there are unlisted websites that need to get publicized, go take a look at his list.

Great job, Gary!

A Dark Knight and a Hard Rockin’ evening in Atlanta

For those of you who were eagerly awaiting to hear about the weekend concert, here's the recap of what you missed.

Sunday was a GREAT time in Atlanta, thanks to Dokken and Sebastian Bach rocking thousands of faithful metalheads at the Lakewood Ampitheatre.

Do y’all remember when Bach used to be the lead singer for Skid Row?

As a prelude, going to see The Dark Knight was a hell of a pre-concert show. If you haven’t seen this one, go see it. It’s two and a half hours of WOW!

About 8pm, Sebastian Bach opened up the show with “Slave to the Grind”, running through a fast and furious ten song set which was about half songs from his new CD “Angel Down” and the other half well-known hits from the 80s, wrapping up with “Youth Gone Wild”. The guy was live, bouncing all over the stage, interacting with the fans in the audience before and during the show.

Hot on his heels was Dokken (the first concert I went to after my divorce). Don Dokken and company hit the stage, opening up with a not-so-well known older Dokken song, “Kiss of Death”. As did Bach, they played about ten songs, but unlike Bach, covered very little from their most recent CD, “Lightning Strikes Again”, sticking mostly to well-known classic hits. While Don still can’t hit some of the high notes from twenty years ago, his voice was strong, and he kept a light, good-hearted demeanor interacting with the audience throughout the show.

Don got more than a few laughs from the audience when he called his guitar his girlfriend – “no matter where I touch her, she always responds and if she’s too loud, I can just turn her down.”

At the end of Dokken ‘s set it was time to leave. Those of y’all who know the Blogland know full and well we wouldn’t be caught dead there once those lamers got up on stage.

Sebastian Bach and Dokken both put on a hell of a show – if you can catch them together, or separately, it’s well worth an evening of your time and ticket money to catch the show.

South Carolina blogger pushing for Hawaii 5-0 remake

According to reports, South Carolina blogger Will Folks is planning to fund a remake of the classic television cop show "Hawaii Five-0", using some of his eleventy kabillion dollar fortune.

A renowned body surfer, Folks indicated the intro to the episodes will update many of the scenes showed in the original series, interspersed with shots of surfers ... and bodysurfers, to include Folks.

When reached for comment, Folks said "when you got a fortune of eleventy kabillion dollars, like I do, make the most of it".

Star Trek movie coming up

Since we're on a William Shatner kick lately, we thought we'd share this cool movie trailer clip of the new Star Trek movie, due out for Christmas:

See you Monday

It's been another hectic week in the Blogland, and we're gonna call it a weekend. This weekend, the Blogland is hitting the road for a killer concert that we'll tell you all about when we get back.

What's coming up next week in the Blogland?

  • We'll finish naming names when we roll out the second half of our Legislative Awards, which will recognize one freshman Senator along with a retiring Senator. We'd intended to roll them out sooner, but we were waiting for a few interviews to come back. While we won't tell you who we've picked, we'll give you a couple of hints: both Senators we name will either be Republicans or Democrats.
  • We're going to tell you what one of South Carolina's big political bloggers is up to, and it's something that you'll hear about nowhere else.
  • We'll share a little inside chatter about a couple of what we expect will be some of the more hotly-contested State House races.
  • Last, but not least, we may post another installment in our continuing Inside Interview series. We've had a lot of people sign up to participate and are wrapping up several interviews, with more to come.
Whoever you are, whereever you're at, and whatever you're doing, be sure to make it a great weekend out there!

Dick Morris disses Romney, plugs Powell and Rice

Over on his blog, Dick Morris warns against considering Mitt Romney as a VP candidate, offering these thoughts:

McCain should, at a minimum, choose a candidate who won’t cost him votes. And, at a maximum, he should go with a vice presidential choice that redefines his candidacy.

With the nation in the grip of a fundamental re-appraisal of its past rule by white men, both Condi Rice and Colin Powell suggest themselves as excellent alternatives. They would excite voters, turn them on and give them a way to vote against Obama without ruffling their consciences.

To read the rest of the article, go here.

Appoint Sabrina Gast Coroner of York County

The resignation of York County Coroner is a disappointing end to the career of someone we once regarded highly. It is imperative that this office be filled quickly with a qualified candidate who can help restore public trust in the office, as well as have the talent and drive to set a higher standard of leadership for the office.

Sabrina Gast is the right candidate for the job.

Gast has experience in this office, having been served as acting Coroner for nearly two years after the now-resigned coroner had been suspended. In that time, she has proven that she knows the ropes, has a rock-solid work ethic, and exhibits compassion for her cases.

While her track record as acting Coroner does much to recommend her, her academic and professional qualifications are outstanding. A lifelong resident of York County, Gast’s has a BS degree in Nursing and a Master’s in Forensic Nursing, and is certified as an Emergency Nurse, Forensic Nurse, and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. She has worked in trauma centers, taught forensics, and developed and implemented programs for law enforcement, as well as served as an expert witness in numerous trials.

While most of our state's Coroners do a good job, few have the kind of qualifications that Gast brings to the table. York County is fortunate to have someone so qualified willing to serve in this capacity.

Sabrina Gast knows the job of being York County’s Coroner, and has done it faithfully, honestly, and competently for nearly two years. She is known around the state for doing an outstanding job and setting a higher standard for the office. In considering the job she’s done as an “acting” Coroner, we believe she can do even more as full-fledged Coroner. It’s a title she’s earned through her record of service, and an honor she richly deserves.

To us, appointing Sabrina Gast to be York County’s Coroner seems the right thing to do for so many reasons. We hope Governor Sanford will do just that.

Rep. Erickson hosts event for Bronze Star recipient

Last weekend, the Blogland had the opportunity to join one of our favorite legislators – Representative Shannon Erickson – along with Congressman Joe Wilson and over 250 of her friends and neighbors for a cookout honoring USMC Sergeant Adam Holmquist, a Beaufort native and former student of Erickson who was recently awarded the Bronze Star. That’s him, standing with Erickson and Wilson:

As shown in the pics, turnout was heavy for this event, defying heat, humidity, mosquitoes and threats of rain. In addition to Erickson and Wilson, other local VIPs in attendance were Senator-elect Tom Davis, Beaufort County School Board Chair Fred Washington, and at least three members of Beaufort City Council (we spotted George O'Kelley, Donnie Beer & Gary Fordham).

“I’m grateful to have so many friends who support me and to have them turn out tonight,” Erickson shared with us. “But this event isn’t about me at all. We want to thank Adam for his service, honor him for receiving the Bronze Star, and let him know how proud we are of him.”

Consistent with her words, there wasn’t a single campaign sign in sight, and while it was obvious she was among friends and hard-core supporters, not a single appeal was made for help for her fall re-election campaign.

We certainly appreciate the invitation and remind everyone else out there that if you’d like your election year event to get a write-up in the Blogland, extend us an invitation and we’ll try to make it.

A little "Rock and Roll"

Put Motley Crue, Skid Row, Zakk Wylde and Jason Bonham on one stage and what do you get?


(This one's for you, Stan)

“He is so much more”: Bill Cotty, Distinguished Outgoing Representative

The Blogland has gotten to know Bill Cotty quite well over the last couple of years. We first met him back in 2002, when he was campaigning for former Representative David Owens, and in the fall of 2006, he helped introduce us to the growing threats presented by SCRG when we fact-checked a number of misleading attacks and questionable campaign tactics. After that, he did an Inside Interview with us, and since then, we’ve come to think the world of this guy, and we’re going to miss him now that he’s decided to retire.

Representative Cotty played key roles as a negotiator and deal-maker in the 1995 welfare reform legislation, the 2000 Confederate flag compromise and the 2006 property tax reform. One of his last major efforts in the General Assembly was helping lead the successful effort in January to seat Ninth Circuit Judge Kristi Harrington, whose candidacy was endorsed by the Blogland.

Representative Cotty didn't just endear himself to the Blogland - he also made a lot of strong impressions among his fellow legislators. In fact, we received far more responses than we could fit into this story.

One especially-insightful perspective was provided to us by freshman Representative Shannon Erickson noted his sometimes-humble approach to legislative service, when she pointed out to us:

He’ll tell you he’s just a dirt lawyer, but he is so much more. He has been a great teacher for those of us who are just learning how to be legislators.

State Treasurer Converse Chellis was Cotty’s seatmate when they served together in the House. Chellis was:

Always impressed with his constituent service and work ethic. You would find that Bill was very respected on the House floor for his knowledge of the issues, his willingness to work with people who opposed his legislation to make sure they understood what he was trying to accomplish, as well as his sense of fairness.

Nathan Ballentine, a fellow Republican House member from Richland County, had this to say about Bill:

Bill and I are in the minority on our local delgation. In fact, we're in the minority in the House in the sense that we just say what we feel and let the chips fall where they may. You always knew where Bill stood. He didn't sugarcoat it. Didn't care about personalities and personal feelings. He took positions on issues based on the facts, his opinions, and listenting to his constituents.

Bill's living proof about the old "sticks and stones" phrase. He's had a lot of people try to label him but I simply label him as this: very knowledgeable, straight-shooter, passionate.

Carl Gullick, a veteran York County politico about to start his second term in the House, praised Cotty, calling him:

A rare statesman in a place full of politicians. He doesn't follow opinion polls or take orders. He does what he believes is the right thing for his district, and has worked to make a real difference in the House.
We know Cotty is winding down his law practice with an eye towards professional retirement, as well as from the General Assembly. He’s got plans to enjoy more time with his wife and their family, including grandchildren. We wish them all well in the years to come and thank Bill for a job well done. His leadership has set a standard which we hope others will aspire to in the future.

For those of you who haven't seen it before, we'd like to share this clip of his appearance on Comedy Central's Daily Show with John Stewart:

“She knows exactly what she is doing”: Shannon Erickson, Outstanding Freshman Representative

There are a number of freshmen legislators in the House, but in our humble opinion, there is one who stands above the rest, combining a positive “can-do” attitude with bulldog tenacity. Beaufort County Representative Shannon Erickson has earned our recognition as the Outstanding Freshman Representative.

Her win in a tough special election last fall showed this lady is a hard worker, and her willingness to get hands-on when it’s an important issue got our attention. We were glad to help push her Lauren Gentry law through a few weeks ago. Getting a bill to the Governor’s desk is always a big deal for a first-year legislator.

We also want to give her credit for keeping a pretty full website online for constituent service: http://www.electshannon.com/.

But don't just take our word for it. She’s earned a reputation for being hard-working, well-informed and respectful towards both the Columbia crowd and the folks back home. Here's what some of her fellow House members had to say ...

Nathan Ballentine, a Midlands Republican, praised Erickson for jumping into her job quickly once she took office:

Some freshmen come to Columbia and feel intimidated. They buy into the the "old guard" mantra that "freshman can't make an impact and shouldn't speak up." Luckily for Beaufort, they sent someone who doesn't follow that line of thinking. Shannon immediately made her presence known in Columbia.

Veteran House member Annette Young from Dorchester County praised her work ethic and her intent to keep on top of the issues before the General Assembly:

She does her homework before she casts every vote. She makes sure she knows exactly what she is doing, and why.

Fellow freshman Phillip Lowe from Florence County praised her initiative:

Shannon hit the ground running. She passed legislation and took the floor like a veteran. We proudly took her into the conservative freshman class that will and did make a difference. Best of all she has Florence ties..

Retiring veteran House member Bill Cotty praised Erickson as:

The ‘real deal’- smart and hard working. She hit the ground running after winning the special election and made a major impact in the House in her first year of service. Shannon's authorship and passage of a bill to allow high school victims of on-campus intimidation from forfeiting their right to play sports when they transfer schools under duress reflects effectiveness and the importance she places on constituent service.

This fall, she faces a Democratic challenger, but we’re hoping that voters will look at how far she’s come in one year, and vote to send her back so she can build upon what she’s accomplished thus far.

1st Blogland legislative awards

For the last few years, the Blogland has been taking a look at state politics. We’ve helped put to get legislation passed, supported candidates, discussed judicial races, interviewed legislators, and a lot more. We wanted to help good people and ideas, stop bad ones, and give those on the outside of state government a better look on the inside. Over time, we think we’ve made progress on meeting those goals.

We felt it would be appropriate to recognize some of those who’ve earned our respect at the State House. To do so, we’ve decided to recognize the outstanding freshmen legislators, as well as outgoing legislators who’ve made great contributions to the people of South Carolina in course of their public careers.

As part of this series, we’re going to do more than just present our points of view. We spent weeks doing our homework about who was who in the State House. Interviews with people in state politics helped us make our choices, and we’ll share some excerpts from those discussions.

In the next two weeks, look for us name four legislators who will receive the following recognitions from the Blogland:

  • Outstanding Freshman Representative and Senator
  • Distinguished Outgoing Representative and Senator
Some of these picks will probably surprise our readers, but as always, we call it as we see it. The people we're going to name well deserve the recognitions we're going to give them, and we look forward to sharing them with you.

Stay tuned.

Thanks everyone!

A special thanks to all those who took time out of their evenings to pay their respects to the Spears family at the visitation for Stan, Jr.

We're not ones to treat such an event as a media event, so we're not going to name names, but all of you know who you are, and you have our appreciation. It's a very trying time for the family, and the hundreds who showed up to show their support tonight made it a little easier.

We in the Blogland will be keeping the family and friends in our thoughts and our prayers in the days and weeks to come, and we hope our readers will join us.