S.C. Statehouse Report
Sunday, March 13, 2005
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/05.0313.wolf.htm


COMMENTARY
Sanford's Wolf tactics wearing thin on lawmakers
By Andy Brack
SC Statehouse Report

MARCH 13, 2005 - - Governor Grandstand. Doctor Dolittle. Little Drummer Boy. Doctor No. Sanfraud.

Gov. Mark Sanford is picking up more nicknames than you can shake a stick at.

State lawmakers - - and members of his Republican Party in particular - - are tiring of his Richie Rich publicity stunts and Little Boy Who Cried Wolf press conferences.

Instead of carting pigs to the Statehouse lobby (last year) or appearing with a horse and cart on the Statehouse grounds (this year), the governor, they say, would be better served to pick up the phone and call them directly.

"It's amazing to everybody," said Charleston GOP Rep. John Graham Altman. "He's Governor Dolittle. He's talking with the animals."

Lawmakers say he should meet with them first before whining to the media to keep his poll numbers high among voters.

"I kind of feel like he's a pushmi-pullyu too because they've given him everything he wanted and he still says it's not enough," said Democratic Rep. Thayer Rivers of Ridgeland.

Lawmakers say Sanford seems to poke them in the eyes in what they are taking as an intentional campaign to make state legislators and the General Assembly to appear to be what's wrong with government.

"He wants to make them think it's our fault for not getting something done when it's really his fault," said Republican Sen. Jake Knotts of Lexington, who says he likes the governor and wants to help him accomplish his agenda.

"The governor would rather take the hard way to accomplish something by trying to put pressure on the Senate and House members," Knotts said. "It would be a lot easier for him to communicate with us rather than degrade the House members and senators."

ALSO THIS WEEK

McLEMORE'S WORLD: Piggy banks may be needed

SCORECARD: Thumbs up/down and mixed reviews

SUBSCRIPTION INFO

FEEDBACK POLICY

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:

feedback@statehousereport.com

Knotts said Sanford is like the popular quarterback who teammates love and want to protect, but who "wants to hog the ball."

"I'll lead the battle for him," Knotts said, continuing a football analogy. "Send me in coach, but tell me the play."

What really set off lawmakers throughout the Statehouse are two events.

Early in the week, Sanford toured the state to urge the General Assembly to push for business tort reform. House members were a little miffed because they had passed the measure three weeks earlier.

On Wednesday, Sanford compounded his reputation as being a Lone Ranger maverick during a press conference by complaining the General Assembly wasn't doing enough to put the state's fiscal house in order. He said the House budget should include $158 million to restore trust and reserve funds, not the $117 million in the House budget. In the coming week, House members take up debate on the state's $5.9 billion budget.

House Speaker David Wilkins, R-Greenville, took umbrage with the conference because he said the House budget closely mirrored the governor's priorities - - it wasn't exact, but it was close, he told The State newspaper.

"It's trying to create a controversy where none really exists," Wilkins said. "We're in a heated agreement with just about all of his priorities, and yet the governor doesn't seem to understand that."

Knotts encouraged Sanford to work with lawmakers because he worried his appeals to voters about problems in the General Assembly were wearing thin. People are starting to realize the governor cries "Wolf" too much at lawmakers.

Maybe Sanford hasn't yet grown into the role that he's the state's chief executive, not its chief legislator. As a member of Congress, Sanford relished six years of voting no on countless issues. He seemed to thrive on using the media to build an image of the passionate conservative who toiled for people in spite of everything standing in his way.

Or maybe his continuing fights with the General Assembly are part of a cynical strategy to run for president in 2008.

One thing is for sure. If the governor cries "Wolf" too many times - - especially when the House and Senate are controlled by his own party - - his popularity may wane and a second-tier Democratic leader could mount a serious and deadly challenge in 2006.

Remember how most folks didn't know Jim Hodges before he ran - - and beat - - Gov. David Beasley?

RECENT COMMENTARY

McLEMORE'S WORLD
3/13: Piggy banks may be needed

Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:


LEARN MORE DAILY

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.

SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD

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

Thumbs up

Pinckney. Hats off to Lowcountry Democratic Sen. Clementa Pinckney for getting lawmakers behind a port compromise. Too bad the State Ports Authority immediately rejected it.

Penn Center. Keep fighting to keep archives where you think they should be and don't succumb to pressure to move them to USC, which wouldn't accept them 40 years ago when Penn wanted full access for everyone (black and white).

Mixed signals

Sanford. Hats off to the governor for heading to DC to try to save the state's military bases, but thumbs down for all of his stunts and whining and continued squabbles with lawmakers.

Thumbs down

GOP nannies. The GOP seems to be spawning some governmental nannies with efforts by Sen. Jim Ritchie to keep kids who don't want to be in school from driving and Rep. Ted Pitts's move to make kids in low-performing schools wear uniforms. Where's that clarion call for less government?

Stats. The state's jobless rate remains high (4th highest in nation) and we now learn the state needs $1.6 billion in infrastructure improvements.


SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION
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 2005, 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
http://www.statehousereport.com/.