Guest op-ed: James Wiles - "Democratic opportunities in the 7th District"

Myrtle Beach resident James Wiles has done some interesting analysis of the new Seventh District, both in terms of the numbers and the cultural perspectives. It provides some useful food for thought and a warning to the growing GOP field that the district can't be taken for granted:

So maybe you’re thinking (like most Republicans along the Grand Strand): even if the national election is in doubt, at least the GOP is going to pick up one more Congressional seat from South Carolina. That spanking new Seventh Congressional District just created here as a result of the 2010 Census, it’s good our name is written all over it. After all, this is “America’s reddest state.”

You might want to re-think that. Check the map.

Walton Cartoon: Obama and the State of the Union

Democratic rout looming in North Carolina?

Today, two prominent North Carolina Democrats abandoned their re-election bids, both facing strong possibilities of defeat at the hands of Republicans, raising doubts about the ability of Democrats to repeat their surprise win of the state in the 2008 Presidential contest.

Democratic Governor Beverly Purdue, long trailing GOP challenger Pat McCrory, a former Mayor of Charlotte, in polls, announced that she would not seek a second term. Democratic Congressman Brad Miller also announced he would not seek another term, after being forced to choose between almost-certain defeat at the hands of GOP challengers in his old district or by an incumbent Democrat in another.

These signs of trouble for Democrats in North Carolina as they fight Republicans - and each other - in several high-profile contests which follow the surprise 2010 takeover of the North Carolina General Assembly by the GOP.

Jim Clyburn sleeping during State of the Union?

We couldn't help but want to run this photo, which shows Sixth District Congressman Jim "JC Hammer" Clyburn sound asleep, reportedly during the State of the Union address.

We think it speaks for itself.

It's ok. We didn't see much exciting in his speech either.

Republicans lining up behind House District 97 candidate

Every time Dorchester County's sole Democratic legislator - Rep. Patsy Knight - has been in a contested race, she's only won by a few hundred votes in a seat which has changed hands between parties a total of four times since 2000. The district, which connects rural Democratic upper Dorchester County with the fast-growing Republican areas around Summerville, has long been a swing district - a balance which may have been tipped by redistricting, which cut a number of the more Democratic precincts from the district while adding three precincts from Colleton County (two of which trend Republican).

Reportedly Republican support is quickly gathering around Jordan Bryngelson, a Summerville insurance rep who is also the county's representative to the state's GOP Executive Committee. Like Knight, Bryngelson has long ties in the rural areas of the district and is expected to wage a strong battle for those votes.

We've talked with a number of people who have told us that Knight may take a pass on another bid for the seat.

This race will likely be a top target for the GOP in the fall general elections. If Democrats can keep the GOP candidate bottled up in the Summerville and Colleton County precincts, they could hang on to the seat. If the Republicans can win some crossover voting among the district's rural Dorchester voters, the seat is theirs. Given the changes made by redistricting and continued GOP growth in the district's Summerville precincts, a GOP win may well end over a decade of back-and-forth outcomes in this district.

Three running for House District 44 - and counting

January isn't over and the race for Lancaster County's state House District 44 is heating up with three candidates in the race as two Democrats have announced their plans to seek the seat along with Republican Joseph Coy.

We've heard that Mandy Powers-Norrell, a Lancaster attorney who ran a heated state Senate race in 2008 against now-Congressman Mick Mulvaney back in 2008, is in the running, as is Kershaw attorney Bob Cook. Cook worked under former Democratic Governor Jim Hodges and is currently in private practice. With both having long roots in the district and established political resumes and networks, one can expect a primary match as contentious as the Senate race four years ago.

We're hearing more are looking at the race from the Republican side as well.

Republicans are expected to take a serious shot at picking up the seat, which is being vacated by incumbent Democratic Rep. Jimmy Neal, after waging a strong bid for the seat in 2010 and seeing the county go for GOP Congressman Mick Mulvaney's upset win over former Congressman John Spratt.

Walton cartoon: Infighting

... enough said.

Mitt Romney for President

A rear view of the Bloglandmobile.

NOTE: The Blogland re-endorsed Romney for the general election. If you want to see the updated endorsement, read here.

The United States faces major challenges both at home and abroad. A stagnant economy has left many Americans convinced things are worse than before Obama took office, while growing interference from the federal government stifles economic growth and a growing debt has funded a series of failed initiatives while providing unprecedented incentives for people not to return to work. Around the world, our nation has lost credibility as our military strength and our will to use it effectively have diminished and our foreign policy grown less decisive.

As the Obama administration lacks the willingness and vision needed to address these growing problems, it’s time for a new President who will take them more seriously and who has the background and leadership ability to get results.

In this year’s Republican Primary, the Blogland has watched the evolving field of candidates, attended many events with the candidates and their representatives and absorbed far more information about them than human beings should be exposed to. After careful consideration, the Blogland will support former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for the nomination.

Newt Gingrich's Ego Problem

Today's Newt Gingrich event in Florence showed Gingrich as his usual strong, outspoken self. But it also showed how big his ego could get, as he sought to consolidate the support of conservative Republicans behind his candidacy, telling the audience that "a vote for Santorum or Perry is wasted", criticizing fellow GOP candidate Mitt Romney as a moderate who Repubicans should unite against.

He also made sure audience members knew that Santorum "lost his state by the biggest margin of history". It's true, but it was hardly a generous gesture to the Santorum voters he was trying to talk into supporting him.

So why does Gingrich think he is "The One" for conservatives and all others are lost causes?

Three candidates do morning campaign stops in Florence

Between 9 a.m. and noon today, three of the Republican candidates for President blitzed through Florence: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry. Together, the three candidates covered four events across the town, leading a trail of interested party activists and hustling news media reporters as they made their way through and off to afternoon events elsewhere in South Carolina.

From diners to art shops, back-slapping to philosphical dissertations, today's candidate stops had it all, giving Florence voters a rare opportunity to sample several of their options in the same morning.

What's Fair (and what's not)

Every election year, there's always those who take things a little too seriously and play like there is no tomorrow. For such people, anything goes, including dishonest criticisms, personal insults and mudslinging.

This is the kind of trash that makes potential voters cynical about the political process. In most occupations and lines of business, if people believe that your product or service will deliver what they want, they buy it or offer you a contract to provide it. The realm of electoral politics should work the same way - but all too often, it doesn't.

Instead, we've learned more about Newt Gingrich's divorces than we ever want to know, Jon Huntsman's loving act of adoption has been turned into an ideological sellout, Romney's religious beliefs are used to question his fitness to hold office and we've heard more than we want to know about a candidate's last name being related to a sexual term.

But the lowest cheap-shot we've heard this cycle has been by those who've judged the reaction of the Santorum family to the loss of one of their children, which we discussed last week in some detail.

These kinds of personal cheap shots are simply inexcusable and they're the number one reason why we can't wait for January 22nd to get here.

Bain and Newt Gingrich's frustration with losing

For many years, I viewed Newt Gingrich as one of the most intellectual figures in national politics. One might disagree with his positions, but he can be counted to bring deep thinking to anything that he's involved with. Anyone who doubts that should read some of the alternative history books that he has co-authored and see just how well-researched the individuals and situations are.

In light of Gingrich's scholarly approach to writing, as well as a number of speaking appearances that I've attended on several subjects (usually non-partisan ones), I was disappointed at the Bain attack video from his super PAC against Mitt Romney. Not only are the video's facts flawed, but it also shows a serious lack of understanding of just what took place and why.

Only when Gingrich got called out on the issue by fellow Republicans did he back off, asking that an attack video about Bain and Romney be revised. Considering the many falsehoods, that's a good idea, but an even better idea would have been to get the facts straight in the first place.

Saturday morning in Summerville: Grits, eggs, bacon and politics

Lowcountry Republicans packed the house at Kelly’s BBQ on U.S. 78 near Summerville for the monthly meeting of the Lowcountry GOP Breakfast Club, which featured a preview of the 2012 session of the General Assembly, featuring Dorchester County State Senator Mike Rose and Charleston County State Representative Chip Limehouse. The meeting covered a wide range of subjects, including restructuring, the state budget, health care, and harbor dredging.

As always, a special thanks to Bubba Kelly and Kelly’s BBQ for hosting this event.

Next month’s meeting – Saturday, February 11 – the group will host an all-star line-up of state politicos as they celebrate their 10th anniversary.

Stay tuned via the group’s website:

Connor to seek Sixth District GOP Chair

Yesterday in Manning, Orangeburg attorney and 2010 Lieutenant Governor candidate Bill Connor announced his bid for the Sixth District GOP Chairmanship. The office is currently held by Tom Grimes, a long-time GOP activist from Florence, whose county is being moved into the new Seventh Congressional District.

Jokingly referring to himself as from the “Republican mecca of Orangeburg”, Connor told the audience that “I understand how this district relates to the rest of the state”, promising to apply his in-the-field networking and campaign experience from his Lieutenant Governor bid to help support Republican Party organizations in the Sixth District.

Clarendon Republicans meet, pick Romney in straw poll

The crowd at the monthly meeting of Clarendon County Republicans was standing-room only in Manning to see a number of speakers, including Rep. Alan Clemmons and representatives from several Presidential campaigns. Long-time GOP politico Moye Graham chaired the meeting with door prizes from Robert and Dawn Alt, owners of the Palms at Wyboo Plantation, a favorite regional hangout for Republicans.

Myrtle Beach State Representative Alan Clemmons addressed the audience, discussing the status of two ongoing election law issues: redistricting, which received Justice Department pre-clearance but is the subject of a lawsuit, and Voter ID, which has been denied approval by the Justice Department and is awaiting further legal action.

While speaking for the Rick Santorum campaign, Bill Connor, who lost a close race for Lt. Governor in the 2010 GOP run-off, announced his candidacy for the Sixth District Republican Party Chair. The current holder, Tom Grimes of Florence, will be vacating the office as his county is being moved into the state’s new Seventh Congressional District.

GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney won their straw poll with 39% of votes cast. Gingrich came in second with 17% and Santorum third with 12%. The straw poll also polled for Vice-President preferences with the top finishers being Rudy Giuliani with 14%, Marcio Rubio with 11% and Jeb Bush with 10%.

Perry walks Summerville's Main Street

Over 100 people turned out to walk "Main Street" Summerville with GOP Presidential candidate Rick Perry earlier today. Perry's mid-afternoon walk visited a number of businesses in downtown Summerville where Perry spoke to owners and employees.

The most notable people along with Perry were Summerville State Representatives Jenny Horne and Chris Murphy, as well as former state GOP Chair Katon Dawson.