S.C. Statehouse Report
April 25, 2004
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/04.0425.money.htm


COMMENTARY
The political money chase isn't as swift as you may think
By Andy Brack
SC Statehouse Report

APRIL 25, 2004 - - A big rule of thumb in politics is to make sure you've got enough money in a war chest to fend off a challenger.

But 17 members of the SC House don't seem to follow that belief. Each - - including four who have opponents in coming primary or general elections - - has less than $1,000 of campaign funds in the bank.

"I'm a firm believer that votes win elections, not money," said State Rep. Robert Brown, D-Ravenel, who has $183.95 in his campaign account. "If I do a good job and stay in touch with my constituents, I believe the votes will be there."

In the fund-raising cellar
Member Party Cash on hand (* indicates facing a challenger)
Smith, Garry R
- $16,959.42
Snow, Bubber R
$21.88 *
Howard, Leon D
$76.48 *
Smith, James D
$120.66
Mahaffey, Joseph R
$153.79
Hosey, Lonnie D
$165.25
Davenport, Ralph R
$179.62
Brown, Robert D
$183.95
Mack, David D
$289.23
Herbkersman, Bill R
$415.80
Moody-Lawrence, Bessie D
$429.56
Rhoad, Thomas D
$759.03
Neal, Joe D
$844.39 *
Koon, Larry R
$910.33 *
Perry, Skipper R
$913.45
Allen, Karl D
$976.57
Hayes, Jackie D
$998.00

Brown is breathing easier these days because a challenger was disqualified for having a felony conviction. But he admits had he had a challenger, he would have raised money.

Like Brown, Republican Rep. Bill Herbkersman of Bluffton doesn't want to be caught up in the money game. But Herbkersman, a first-term member who has only $415.80 in his campaign coffers, has proved his fundraising mettle though. In his first election, he raised almost $100,000 to beat Democrat Steve Cheney.

"I don't like asking people for money," he said, adding that if he faced a challenge, he would get on the phone and have fund-raisers to keep his job.

Rep. Jay Lucas, a Hartsville Republican, hasn't faced a challenge in several years. In his first race in 1998, he recalls he won by 22 votes. That spurred him to raise more than $50,000 to fend off any 2000 challenger. None materialized. Since then, he says he hasn't actively sought money. He's used his account, which has dropped to $31,899.68, to send legislative updates and material to constituents. But it's still enough of a stockpile to scare off potential opponents.

"By now, people are going to vote for me based on the job I do, not how much money I spend," Lucas said.

Top House war chests

Member

Party Cash on hand
Cato, Harry R
$150,501.87
Wilkins, David R
$141,949.69
Harrell, Bobby R
$92,692.46
Harrison, Jim R
$49,953.18
Young, Annette R
$47,686.41
Quinn, Rick R
$45,215.99
Cobb-Hunter, Gilda D
$43,769.06
Taylor, Adam R
$40,558.04

What's refreshing in looking campaign disclosure report for House members is how many don't have huge stockpiles of cash. Of the incumbents running for re-election who filed campaign disclosure reports by April 10 (three didn't send in reports in time), 67 House members had less than $10,000 in their campaign accounts. While most don't face challengers, their accounts seem to illustrate many are in public office for public service.

But by not having a cache of campaign cash, they are playing with fire. If potential challengers realize an incumbent is short on funds, that may be enough to spur them to run.

Four incumbents with low cash now face challengers.

  • New Republican Bubber Snow of Hemingway (a recent party-switcher) reported just $21.88 cash on hand. Two men are vying for the Democratic nomination to run against him.

  • The chamber's longest-serving member, Republican Larry Koon of Lexington, faces two challengers in the GOP primary. Koon reported $910.33 in the bank. One of his challengers has more than $25,000 cash; the other has about $3,300.

  • Democratic Rep. Leon Howard of Columbia reported $76.48 on hand. Democratic Rep. Joe Neal of Hopkins reported $844.39 on hand. Neither of their opponents filed a disclosure report.
Top House fund-raisers
Member Party Amount raised, 1st Q Cash on hand
Wilkins, David R $125,266.91 $141,949.69
Harrell, Bobby R $75,868.57 $92,692.46
Quinn, Rick R $34,640.00 $45,215.99
Cooper, Dan R $18,650.00 $18,733.44
Cato, Harry R $16,500 $150,501.87
Rivers, Thayer D $15,675.00 $12,354.46
Coates, Marty R $15,525.00 $13,656.08
Cotty, Bill R $14,923.00 $33,410.19
Talley, Scott R $14,800.00 $27,146.70
Sandifer, Bill R $14,000.00 $38,585.14

The data, however, shouldn't suggest all members of the House are slow to raise money. Just look at the leadership:

  • House Speaker David Wilkins, R-Greenville, raised $125,266.91 in the first three months of the year. He has $141,949.69 on hand.

  • House Ways and Means Chair Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, raised $75,868.57 in the first quarter. He has $92,692.46 on hand.

  • House Majority Leader Rick Quinn, R-Columbia, raised $34,640.00 in the first quarter. He has $45,215.99 in the bank.

  • House Labor, Commerce and Industry Chair Harry Cato, R-Travelers Rest, raised $16,500 in quarter one. He has a whopping $150,501.87 on hand.

ALSO THIS WEEK

McLEMORE'S WORLD: What the price of gas may lead to

FEEDBACK: Good column on tax cut

SCORECARD: Winners and losers of the past week

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Two other big House leaders reflect little in their accounts. Speaker Pro Tem Doug Smith, who faces his first challenge since 1994, has $5,561.37 in his campaign account. House Democratic Leader James Smith, who doesn't have an opponent, reported $120.66 on hand.

Bottom line: Incumbents may still have a money advantage over challengers because they have a capacity to raise money quickly - - if they face a challenge, they can get a fund-raiser together and score money from corporate interests. But anyone thinking of running in the future shouldn't be put off too much. Opportunities exist because most House members aren't rolling in the dough.


McLEMORE'S WORLD
4/25:
What the cost of gas may lead to

This week's cartoon by our Bill McLemore:


FEEDBACK
4/19: Chart was helpful part of story

To the editor:

I am the Democratic candidate for House District 32, currently represented by Republican Doug Smith. Although the district is mostly an upper income, traditionally Republican district, some of the precincts are former mill villages where the people will be hurt more than helped by the proposed income tax cut.

Your chart (Statehouse Report, 4/18) helps me show individual families how little they have benefited and how much they have lost by some of the recent tax cuts. I'd love suggestions from others on how to make voters understand the long-term disadvantages of some of our poorly-conceived tax cuts.

-- Alice Hatcher Henderson, Spartanburg

4/21: Tax article was breath of fresh air

To the editor:

Seeing your web page for the first time was a breath of fresh air. Your article on taxes was a boost. I had written a Letter To The Editor, which was published about 3 weeks ago in the Sun News, essentially saying the same thing....Such an abundance of tax cut or tax substitution and exchange legislation this election year was making me dizzy and I said so in my letter.

This Election year certainly is bringing the tax maintenance politicians out of the woodwork and so far, the few I have seen, are all regressive as hell. Such ideas of replacing ALL Property Taxes with a 40 percent increase in Sales Tax from 5c to 7c wins the prize. Then we have the one that suggests replacing Golf Course Property tax with a formula based upon the Golf Course Businesses gross profit. That beauty was of course endorsed with legislators who own courses and is gaining muster in the legislature.

To put icing on the cake, we have three proposals to cap Real Property Tax assessments to 15 percent at each 5 year Assessment anniversary unless the property sales. Horry County alone stand to lose over $1.5 million annually on that one.

Then up steps some segregationist who wants to use tax credits to fund Private schools and let parents choose which one they want to send their kids to based on the amount of credit they receive. Problem is, those Private Schools, are not required to live up to any standards of education including the qualifications of their teachers! In addition, the credit some poor families will get, would not fund one year in a Dog Training Course let alone a year for their kids...

So its press and regress in our State Legislature where over 90 percent of them are Business Execs or else work for a Business Exec....I say throw all the bums out and start fresh with representatives who truly represent ALL the people and not just the Business Community. Bigger is not better but enough is enough!

-- Bob Logan, President, We The People Of Horry County


SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD

Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various political events from the past week:

Thumbs up

Patterson. Hats off to State Treasurer Grady Patterson for warning senators not to fiddle too much with the state budget. If they do, he says, they'll cause a lowering of the state's high bond rating.

House Judiciary Committee. Hats off for voting against the Right to Life act and for not wasting more state time on an obviously unconstitutional proposal.

Thumbs down

Trustee vote. Republicans showed their tails Wednesday when they let raw partisanship affect the votes for board members on two college boards. Helen Harvey, the wife of former Lt. Gov. Brantley Harvey and a 13-year-member of the USC Board, lost on a mostly party-line vote to Wes Jones. Former College of Charleston board chair Joel H. Smith lost in a similar manner to Lee Mikell.

Greenville council. Members of Greenville County Council continue to look like South Carolina Neanderthals by being holdouts -- again -- on creating a Martin Luther King holiday.

Golf course taxes. Folks in Horry County are hopping mad about golf course owners potentially having to pay lower property taxes. It's another tax break for the rich that SC can't afford.


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