Sunday, March 13, 2005
Wolf tactics wearing thin on lawmakers
SC Statehouse Report
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.
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
"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."
WORLD: Piggy banks may be needed
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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
What really set off lawmakers throughout the Statehouse are
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
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?
3/13: Piggy banks
may be needed
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
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SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
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).
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
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.
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