Why I support Senator Mike Rose

This is a reprint of an editorial letter which appeared in several newspapers in the Lowcountry which I endorsed the re-election of State Senator Mike Rose:

Every year, mishaps involving buried pipelines and cables kill people and threaten communities across the country. Near-misses and incorrect information about the location of these lines put additional burdens upon public safety agencies, increase the costs of construction projects and delay the completion of much needed highway projects.

While most states toughen the laws regarding underground utility safety only after a tragedy occurs, South Carolina recently updated its laws, which had been considered the oldest and most obsolete in the nation, before a disaster could occur. Leading the way in advancing much-needed reform legislation to tackle this vital public safety issue was Dorchester County’s State Senator Mike Rose.

8th Circuit Solicitor's office DUI friendly?

If you're a drunk driver, you may find the counties of the Eight Judicial Circuit - Abbeville, Greenwood, Laurens and Newberry Counties - a friendlier place to drive than other Upstate counties thanks to incumbent Solicitor Jerry Peace.

A brewing issue in the ongoing Republican primary battle between Peace and challenger David Stumbo is over the low DUI conviction rate in the Circuit. Last fall, WSPA TV News 7 in the Upstate reported that in a four-month period last summer, over eighty percent of DUI cases in Greenwood and Abbeville Counties were dismissed, with Greenwood County's conviction rate was 18% and Abbeville’s rate at 22%.

While Peace says this was because defendants offered to plead guilty to a lesser charge like reckless driving, but when compared to other Upstate counties for the same time period, this conviction rate came in well behind the following counties:

Hundley wins Senate 41 GOP Primary - but why?

In a race that many said had no real meaning, Charleston lawyer Walter Hundley won the GOP nomination in tonight's Special Election primary for Senate District 41, which was vacated by the elevation of now-Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell earlier this spring.

Hundley stunned observers by carrying nearly 58 percent of the 2850 votes cast. He was followed by Wally Burbage, who got 978 votes (34%), Sean Pike with 190 votes (7%) and John Steinberger with 37 votes (1.3% - yes, really). Each of the candidates defeated by Hundley will be seeking office again in the near future.

Hundley's victory is somewhat reminiscent of the movie "Brewster's Millions" where Richard Pryor plays a down-and-out baseball player who inherits millions and wages a winning "None Of The Above" protest campaign in a New York City mayoral race with the intent of denying victory to the two major candidates. Should he win the special general election in July - a likely outcome in this heavily-Republican district, Hundley will be too late to attend session this year (barring any special sessions), and since he does not live within the new district lines, he can't seek a full term in the regular GOP primary on June 12.

Democratic losers endorsing in 7th District race

What do Jim Hodges, Vince Sheheen and John Spratt have in common?

And all three of them also live outside of the district.

That's the kind of support we'd want. 

Brittain faces a radically rescrambled race following the decision by Chesterfield County State Rep. Ted Vick to drop out of the Congressional race after being arrested in Columbia for DUI last week. His strongest primary contender is expected to be Gloria Tinubu, a former Georgia legislator who has been attracting the support of the Democratic party's liberal activists, including the state's AFL-CIO.

Easy wins expected in Horry County House races

In recent years, Horry County has been one of the counties with the most competition for House seats. This year is proving to be much the same, with the county gaining a new House seat from reapportionment, another open race and several incumbent challenges. But while this might generally point to a very hotly-contested primary election field, signs are pointing to easy wins in the all-important Republican primary contests for these seats.

It looks like the night’s first winner will be Dennis DiSabato, who is unopposed for District 56, which the county gained in redistricting. His only opponent was booted off the ballot in the recent filing flap. Ditto for Blake Hewitt, who is running unopposed for House District 105 after several candidates were booted off the primary ballot. But they won't likely be the only ones rolling to easy wins.

Guest Cartoon: Walton - "Memorable days"

Clyburn endorsement in Seventh District race

Tuesday next week, Clyburn will reportedly endorse Horry County attorney Preston Brittain, one of four Democrats remaining in the contest for the Seventh District seat. Brittain also received the support of Florence's Democratic Mayor Steve Wukela.

While Clyburn represented many of the Democratic areas of the district before the Pee Dee region was moved into the Seventh District, it's hard to tell how much influence his endorsement will have on the race, as the candidates in the field - until Vick's media splash and subsequent withdrawal - have done little to stir up interest in the race.

A recent poll conducted by Francis Marion University and SCNow showed a lackluster race for the Democratic nomination with roughly two-thirds of likely Democratic primary voters saying they were undecided. Among those who were decided, former candidate Ted Vick led the field with fifteen percent, Gloria Tinubu with nine percent, Preston Brittain with six percent, Myrtle Beach attorney Harry Pavilack with three percent and Surfside Beach attorney Parnell Diggs with three percent. 

Guest Cartoon: Walton - "Dueling"

Ted Vick kickbacks?

But some might say that where Ted Vick is involved, business is good.

According to a review of disclosure records from the state Ethics Commission website, Vick has been doing business with the Fourth Circuit Solicitor's office after making contributions to the campaign of Will Rogers, the current solicitor.

In 2008, four thousand dollars was donated to Rogers' campaign by various individuals with the last name Vick. While a thousand came from Rep. Vick himself, another thousand came from Ted Vick Motor Company.

In 2010, Vick then reported earning $7998.98 from the Fourth Circuit Solicitor's office on his Statement of Economic Interests form.

Coincidence? Given the string of questions being asked about Vick, it's a little hard to tell. In any event, it looks like his primary bid, once considered a coronation, could be turning into an uphill battle.

Haley attacks part of double-standard on attacks and threats by the Left

As first reported in the Columbia Free Times, outgoing South Carolina AFL-CIO President Donna Dewitt (who is just one typo away from being known as the "ALF Lady"), decided to have a little fun at a retirement party being thrown in her honor by taking two whacks at a pinata with Governor Nikki Haley's face on it.

This isn't the only recent sting made against her by Democrats, but like the other incident, we think the adverse reaction by some is much ado about nothing. But we're betting if it the face was Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi or Jim Clyburn, there'd be howls of outrage over the matter.

We have no problem with the one-liners and mock attacks that are clearly not intended in malice as free speech ain't always pretty, but usually it's harmless. We just have a problem when they're part of a double-standard where what is considered free speech by those on the political Left is considered hate speech when coming from the political Right.

Here's the video of Dewitt:

Vote Heather Crawford for House District 68

There are a number of legislative contests around the state where the Blogland will be endorsing candidates. Our first endorsement goes to one of the hardest-working new faces we've seen offering for legislative seats this cycle: Heather Ammons Crawford, who is seeking the GOP nod for House District 68 in two upcoming contests: a special election primary on June 5 to serve out the remainder of the current term (it was vacated by former Rep. Thad Viers several months ago) and a primary for the full term which begins next year.

Crawford is a veteran of Horry County GOP politics, having founded the Grand Strand Young Republicans and served as its Chair for two years, as well as the Horry County Executive Committeeman for the South Carolina Republican Party from 2009-2011. Currently, she serves as the South Carolina National Committeewoman for the Young Republican National Federation.

Just as importantly, she grew up in the area and is active in the Grand Strand in a number of non-political roles which are near and dear to her. She is well-invested in her community and won't require on-the-job training to learn the local issues. Crawford understands the challenges faced by a high-growth area which is struggling to address growth issues while attempting to preserve the quality of life that has made the Grand Strand a choice location for tourists and transplants alike and will be an important ally in those efforts.

Shadow campaign groups in Dorchester Senate race?

Supporters of Sean Bennett, who is challenging Summerville State Senator Mike Rose, aren't afraid to push the envelope of state campaign laws to try to get their guy elected.

A search of the S.C. Secretary of State's website shows a Dorchester One, Inc., which was dissolved last year. No listing shows up on the state Ethics Commission website.

In the past, courts and the state Ethics Commission have taken a very dim view of these kinds of activities taking place in Dorchester County elections, including a judgment against former State Senator Bill Branton, and a number of parties are looking for whoever is behind these billboards.

We'll be digging into this one and look forward to sharing what we find with our readers.

Ted Vick's Florence problem

While Seventh District Democratic congressional candidate Ted Vick might've been hoping for a united front to help him coast through the Democratic primary and save his time and resources for the general election contest,  it's looking like Pee Dee Democrats are far from unified behind his candidacy.

We recently reported the AFL-CIO endorsement of Gloria Tinubu, one Vick's primary opponents. Another setback for Vick's efforts to lock in support for his candidacy was reported by John Sweeney of the Florence Morning News, who wrote that Steve Wukela, Florence's Democratic Mayor, is expected to announce his support of Preston Brittain, an Horry County attorney who is also seeking the Seventh District seat.

Why is this important? Of the roughly thirty-three thousand voters who cast Democratic primary ballots in 2010, roughly 21% (almost seven thousand) came from Florence County - the largest number of Democratic primary votes cast in any of the Seventh District counties (Dillon was the only other county that turned out more than 5,000 votes), meaning a strong showing in Florence is crucial to winning the primary. 

Save Phil Bailey

Bailey and his faithful
sidekick Judging Dog
Recently, Phil Bailey, veteran Democratic campaign strategist and Director of the State Senate's Democratic Caucus, touched off a bit of a firestorm when he called Governor Nikki Haley a "Sikh Jesus".

The comments even spawned a Sikh Jesus user account on Twitter.

Following this, Bailey's Twitter account went away and it's been reported that he was "reprimanded". We hope this is as far as it goes.

While some were certainly upset by Bailey's remarks, it's not surprising to see him pushing the envelope. He's well known for doing this over the years, providing some entertaining and even thought-provoking moments. But one off-the-cuff remark, even one this incendiary, shouldn't be the end of his career, and we hope it's not. Hopefully Phil will return to Twitter, including with his biting wit and Judging Dog, soon.

These sentiments were also shared by Billy Simons, a Lowcountry GOP activist, who wrote:

I hope that we will soon see the return of Phil Bailey’s twitter account, because this is one conservative, Republican that misses it greatly. I’ll say once again, based on my interactions with Phil Bailey he is none of the things that people have made him out to be, based on a couple of tweets. It was an attempt at humor that crossed the line, but nothing more. I hope all of you will join the cause and let’s help #FreePhilBailey.

Everyone gets fired in Timmonsville

Thanks to Honda's manufacturing facility in Florence County, Timmonsville, South Carolina is becoming known as a great place to work in the Pee Dee region.

But it's also becoming notorious as a bad place to work if you're a public servant, as they're firing everyone. Even cops and coaches.

Last week, the Mayor and town council voted 4-3 to fire pretty much it's entire municipal workforce - the administrator, treasurer, town clerk and police officers, asking Sheriff Kenny Boone to take over patrols in the town. Mayor Darrick Jackson explained this move was made to cut costs, saying the firings would save the town $400,000 a year. Apparently the town is about a half-million in the red and is late in repaying federal loans as well.

SCGOP Convention Recap

Republicans from around the state gathered in Columbia to elect delegates to the national convention and National Committee members. The Coliseum floor was packed in a cordial setting where even Lindsey Graham received warm applause, likely the first instance of its kind at a party event in years.

Glenn McCall and Cindy Costa were re-elected to their National Committee posts by acclamation, followed by a vote for national delegates (votes still being tabulated at the time this article was published) and a quick motion to ratify a limited number of resolutions.

Fellow Horseman Tom Grimes received recognition for his long-time service to the party, helping preside over the convention to present an award for local government service to Spartanburg County Council member Roger Nutt.

Started at ten, finished before one, it was one of the shortest conventions we’ve seen in years. Business was conducted with a minimum of speeches, resolutions or motions of any kind to drag things out, which are normally a regular occurrence at GOP conventions. Our hats are off to SCGOP Chair Chad Connelly and convention Chair Alan Clemmons for a well-managed convention.