S.C. Statehouse Report
July 4, 2004
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/04.0704.runoff.htm

Happy July 4th!

Senate may become more Sanford-friendly
By Andy Brack
SC Statehouse Report

JULY 4, 2004 - - If the recent state runoff elections reveal anything, it's that the power of incumbency may not be as strong as in the past.

In three high-profile Republican legislative runoffs, incumbents lost:

  • In a testy Charleston County Senate race, former S.C. Rep. Chip Campsen beat Sen. John Kuhn by a 57-43 margin.

  • In Dorchester County, long-time Sen. Bill Branton got 1,045 votes less than County Council Chair Randy Scott to lose by a 2-1 margin.

  • In Lexington County, the S.C. House's longest-term member, Rep. Larry Kuhn, lost by 504 votes (2,929 to 2,426) to newcomer Nikki Haley.

On June 8, another well-known incumbent, House Majority Leader Rick Quinn of Columbia, lost to newcomer Nathan Ballentine. On the same day, six-term Rep. Teddy Trotter of Pickens also lost to a newcomer.

But it may be too soon to draw a conclusion that being an incumbent could spell political doom. Because dozens of House and Senate incumbents face no challengers in the November elections, the chambers will look much the same next year and continue to be dominated by Republicans.


McLEMORE'S WORLD: Independence Day

FEEDBACK: Letters on the Palmetto Bowl and Confederate Flag

SCORECARD: Winners and losers of the past week



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Veteran political observer Bill Moore of the College of Charleston said incumbents who lost probably did so because of local dynamics more than any sweeping trend.

"Each legislative race had its own peculiar characteristics which explain why incumbents got defeated," Moore said.

Kuhn, for example, was "his own worst enemy," Moore said, because of the way he bucked the Republican leadership and put his foot in his mouth too often. A well-publicized shouting match with First Lady Jenny Sanford over campaign contributions may have been the straw that broke the camel's back with voters.

Scott's popularity - and his public statements that he'd work with Gov. Mark Sanford - appear to have swayed voters to pick him over Branton.

In Lexington County, Koon sent signals he wouldn't run for a 16th two-year term. But at the last minute, he decided to run, which apparently didn't sit well with voters.

And Quinn, often immersed in state politics and policy, appeared to forget all politics was local, as former U.S. House Speaker Tip O'Neill often reminded.

Perhaps the most interesting dynamic to be generated from the runoff results is how it will affect the make-up of the Senate. With Campsen and Scott, Sanford will get stronger allies than with Kuhn and Branton.

"You could probably argue that Sanford is getting a marginally stronger position by getting two state Senate seats that are close to him or ran on platforms to help him," said political science professor Neal Thigpen of Francis Marion University.

Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, agreed.

"It does make the Senate more Sanford-friendly."

But while the Senate may become a little more sympathetic to the Sanford agenda, Moore reminds that Sanford hasn't achieved much legislatively in the past two years.

"He has the 75 percent to 80 percent approval with the general public, and probably has a 20 percent approval with the Legislature," he said.

Recalling the stunt earlier this month of bringing two pigs into the Statehouse chamber, Moore said, "Governors have to work with General Assemblies."

Sanford needs to remember that.

7/4: Independence Day

This week's cartoon by our Bill McLemore:


6/28: NCAA should stay out of politics

To the editor:

NCAA should stay out of the political arena and in the sports arena. The last bowl game I watched was in 1970, so you can see how important collegiate sports is to me. ACLU stands for Anti-Christian Lawyers' Union. What does NCAA stand for?

-- J.W. Barker, Batesburg, S.C.

6/28: Ridiculous comparison

To the editor:

This is ridiculous to compare the two in deed! Leave heritage and the Confederate flag alone. Tell the NCAA to take a hike. Stop wasting my tax dollars on history gone by and for Pete's sake get on with business. Stop belly aching about a 200-year-old Yankee mistake!!! Thank you!

-- Wendy C. Spivey, Columbia, S.C.

6/28: Leave flag alone

To the editor:

Our State bowed to outside pressure and took the flag off the State House and put it on the grounds in the Confederate memorial. We should never touch that issue again. That should be the end of it. As bad as the economy has been the last three years, tourism has been up. Enough said.

-- Larry Wolfe, Lancaster, S.C.

6/27: Palmetto idea not good

To the editor:

The NCAA should lift its moratorium on the Confederate flag flying at a Confederate memorial on Statehouse grounds. Not that it will matter since any bowl game 2-5 days before Christmas will not be well-attended. Even Clemson and FSU fans don't go to football that week. The stadium idea is not and never was a good one.

-- Ginger Johnson Sottile, Mount Pleasant, S.C.


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

Thumbs up

Essie Mae Washington-Williams. What cajones! On the week that the state carved the name of the biracial daughter of the late Sen Strom Thurmond on his statue on the Statehouse grounds, she announced she was seeking to become a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

4th Circuit. Hats off to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for denying a rehearing of the state's "Choose Life" license plates.

Thumbs down

Rep. George Bailey. First the Dorchester state representative filed in both primaries to keep his seat. Now, he's been caught fiddling with his resume. What's going on?

Senate District 30. With all the charges, countercharges and lawsuits surrounding the primary for Sen. Maggie Glover's seat, voters will end up the ones hurt as it drags on.

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