S.C. Statehouse Report
Sunday, Dec. 12, 2004
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/04.1212.dems.htm

Dems looking for gubernatorial candidate to challenge Sanford
By Andy Brack
SC Statehouse Report

DEC. 12, 2004 - - For a guy who is leading a party in the South Carolina political doghouse, State Democratic Party Chair Joe Erwin is dripping with optimism.

He seems undaunted by his next big challenge, which is to pit a strong candidate against popular Gov. Mark Sanford. The incumbent, whose favorability ratings are off the charts across the state, appears to be perfectly positioned to walk to a second term in 2006.

But Erwin, who notes Democrats held their own in state House and Senate races this year, reminds people that former Gov. David Beasley's reelection chances looked good after two years in office. But in his third year, things started to self-destruct, which led to a 1998 victory by Democrat Jim Hodges.

"You're hearing more and more across the state - - and not just from Democrats - - from people who are saying what has this guy [Sanford] done? What has been accomplished? And the answer is nothing - - or next to nothing - - but a lot of talk."

With a GOP-controlled House and Senate, Erwin says many are amazed by Sanford's lack of legislative accomplishments. To date, the governor has had no major legislative victories and several well-publicized spats with lawmakers. Many, however, say the relationship is maturing and predict Sanford to have a more coordinated and effective effort with his Republican colleagues in the coming legislative session.


McLEMORE'S WORLD: Shopping til dropping

FEEDBACK: Missed minibottles

SCORECARD: Who's up and down



We encourage your feedback. If you'd like to respond to something in SC Statehouse Report, please send us an e-mail. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity. One submission allowed per month. Submission of a comment grants permission to us to reprint. Please keep your comment to 250 words or less:


"That should have been the perfect scenario to accomplish great things but instead after two years, it has been a scenario that has accomplished nothing," Erwin said. He adds that if people across the state separate their personal view of Sanford (a "nice guy") from his record as a leader, Democrats could have a big opening in two years.

"While the governor is extremely popular, I think he has alienated people in his own party," said Furman political science professor John Simpkins. "There are a few voices on the Democratic side who could offer some challenge, including for disaffected Republicans."

Leading Democrats met in the last week to discuss strategic problems and consider possible candidates to challenge Sanford. With news that state Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum has decided to run in 2006 for the job she holds, many party leaders and others across the state are discussing possible Democratic candidates. Among the names that crop up are:

  • Jim Clyburn. Simpkins said a candidacy by the 6th district congressman would be very interesting because of his ability to solidify the black vote. Others, however, say Clyburn's not interested yet and wants to keep his powerful leadership position in Washington.

  • Tom Moore. The Aiken-area state senator makes the top of many people's lists and he reportedly is exploring gubernatorial options.

  • Brad Hutto. The Orangeburg state senator, who isn't well known around the state, has a lot of respect and is one of the party's rising stars.

  • Doug Jennings. The Bennettsville House member, who served as a feisty leader of the House Democrats a couple of years back, reportedly is open to considering a race for governor if conditions are right.

  • James Smith. The young Columbia House member is the most recent House Democratic leader, but his service in the National Guard may preempt a gubernatorial bid at this point. Word is his unit may be called to Iraq.

  • Joe Erwin. The chairman's name also has come up in conversations as a possible candidate. Erwin, who admits he's intrigued by the state's top job and won't completely rule it out, says he has no plan in place to run now.

At this point, only Clyburn would be considered a household name. But political observers know two years in politics is a long time. Who, for example, would have considered Jim Hodges to be a household name two years prior to the 1998 election?

Sanford has the definite and clear edge for 2006, but with coordination and organization, Democrats could make the race more than a cakewalk


12/12: An ill effect of holiday shopping

The latest from cartoonist Bill McLemore:

12/12: You missed the minibottle

To the editor:

Just a couple of points regarding what the General Assembly did/did not do last year. (Commentary, 11/28). Big one for the largest industry in the state that you left out - Minibottle on the ballot! We were only 8-10 years behind on that one. Also - sometimes not passing more laws can be a good thing. "Less government" is not always bad.

-- Duane Parrish, Charleston, S.C.


The best way to get South Carolina news is to augment your morning paper and TV show with SC Clips, a daily executive news summary compiled from more than 30 state newspaper and TV sources. It's delivered every business day and is packed with news of statewide impact, politics, business and more. Subscriptions are affordable at $30 per month -- and less for business subscribers. More: SC Clips.


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

Thumbs up

Leventis. Hats off to Sen. Phil Leventis, the last declared winner of a seat in the General Assembly following a 5-0 vote by the state Election Commission that declared him the victor.

Tenenbaum. With all of the improvements made at South Carolina schools over the last few years, it's a good idea for Inez Tenenbaum to remain state superintendent instead of running for governor.

Graham. Congratulations to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham for bucking party politics and calling for the possibility of higher payroll taxes to save Social Security.

Thumbs down

Wilson, Anderson delegation. The Anderson legislative delegation really needs to rethink putting Ron Wilson, the former head of the Sons of Confederate Veterans with a murky civil rights past, on the state Board of Education.

How you can subscribe to the full edition of the report

The above version of S.C. Statehouse Report is the free edition. Our paid version, which costs about $100 per month, offer a weekly legislative forecast packed with information that can keep you and your business on the cutting edge.

Notes veteran lawmaker Sen. Glenn McConnell: "Statehouse Report gives an inside practical report of weekly problems with and progress of legislation. It reviews the whole landscape."

In each issue of Statehouse Report, you'll get::

Hot issue -- an early peek at weekly commentary on something really big. Last year, we continually beat other news organizations in finding major trends in issues, from teacher and budget cuts to wetlands proposals.

Agenda -- a weekly forecast of the coming week's floor agenda

Radar Screen -- a behind-the-scenes look at what's really going on in the General Assembly

McLemore's World -- an early view of our respected cartoonist Bill McLemore.

Tally Sheet -- a weekly review of all of the new bills introduced in the legislature in everyday language

Scorecard -- A Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down of major political/policy events for the week.

Calendar -- a weekly list of major meetings for the House, Senate and state agencies.

Megaphone -- a quote of the week that you'll find illuminating.

To learn more about subscriptions, contact Andy Brack at: brack@statehousereport.com


Learn more about Statehouse Report

  Copyright 2004, Statehouse Report LLC, which is affiliated with The Brack Group, Charleston, S.C.
Retransmission or reproduction of more than one copy is prohibited without express permission of the publisher. For additional information, including subscription prices, go to