Sunday, May 8, 2005
is more vulnerable than you think
SC Statehouse Report
8, 2005 -- It already hasn't been a good May for the governor.
- Gov. Mark Sanford's signature legislative priority, a
school voucher plan clothed as a tax credit, died a painful
death in the S.C. House without a peep of debate on the
- Republican doctor Oscar Lovelace announced he'd run against
Sanford for the 2006 GOP gubernatorial nomination.
- And bedrock GOP activists seem to smell blood in the water
as one remarked in print this week, "Governor Sanford
Sanford's leadership and legislative accomplishments are thin
in his last three Mays as governor, he remains the presumptive
GOP nominee. And unless the Democrats do the work to make
themselves competitive, it's a good bet that Sanford will
win re-election in November 2006.
But the governor's vulnerabilities are growing and showing
more and more every day. Here are a few:
Interest groups. Several powerful interest groups
are mad with the governor and would prefer to see him not
return to office. Teachers are mad because of the voucher
program. Many electrical co-op customers are mad after he
stuck his nose in the affairs of Santee Cooper and its operations.
Lawyers are mad at him for tort reform efforts. Sumter residents
are mad he killed USC-Sumter's bid to become a four-year college.
The list goes on, but the point is that if enough groups get
mad at Sanford, they might reach enough of a critical mass
to pull enough votes from him to damage his re-election chances.
do you really think the next House Speaker will be?
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Business interests. While Sanford has carried water
on some business issues, such as an income tax cut proposal
that didn't pass and many didn't seem to want, major business
interests are still skeptical of the maverick governor. For
example in Greenville, business leaders still remember how
newly-elected Sanford asked for a review that stalled the
mega-million-dollar ICAR project that will bring thousands
of auto-related jobs to the Upstate.
Trust. In his years in Congress and as governor, some
may not have agreed with Sanford on policy, but his integrity
never was questioned. But that was until the recent Santee
Cooper flap in which Sanford said he wasn't interested in
privatizing the utility, but documents from his office told
a different story.
Leadership. Sanford's 2002 campaign bumper stickers
branded him as a leader, but many in the legislature publicly
and quietly question it. Instead of rallying and inspiring
lawmakers to support his initiatives, he pulls publicity stunts
and criticizes the legislature. Many are surprised at how
little has been accomplished by a Republican governor with
a Republican-led House and Senate.
WORLD: Pension thoughts
Thumbs up and down
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"You can't be up here for four years, get nothing done,
blame the Legislature and still stay that you are some great
leader," said Democratic Rep. James Smith of Columbia.
"I think his support is a mile wide and an inch deep."
But regardless of vulnerabilities and criticism, the thin-skinned
Sanford still has the bully pulpit. Unlike some pundits who
think he's a weak campaigner, he remains highly effective
because of his telegenic good looks and compelling use of
televised advertising to get across his message.
In 2006, Sanford will have plenty of money to mount an effective
campaign against Republican and Democratic challengers. He'll
sidestep his policy losses. He'll campaign on how he's brought
more common sense to government, pressured legislators to
adopt an income tax cut for small businesses, pushed to get
tort reform and more.
Unless challengers develop platforms that clearly distinguish
them from Sanford and provide positive alternatives to guide
the state through 2010, keep your money on the incumbent governor,
regardless of his antics.
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
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Still upset about Altman's comments
To the editor:
I just read an AP article by Jim Davenport reporting on the
comments Rep. John Graham made about not understanding why
abused women return to their abusers. This dynamic of the
cycle of abuse is often misunderstood by many people. Rep.
Graham is just one of the many to make comments that are indicative
of how widespread this misunderstanding is.
I am a volunteer member of an organization that is committed
to ending the myths, misperceptions and misunderstandings
as much as possible. We are Men Against Violence Against Women.
Please check us out at www.mavaw.org.
Representative Graham does not need to be lamented, he just
needs to understand and I think it is wonderful that he has
asked for help understanding. A wonderful opportunity exists
here to help many improve their understanding if properly
seized. I am willing to help. Every victim of domestic violence
suffers, often for years while many relatives, friends and
co-workers miss opportunities to help her because they are
ignorant and remain bystanders. Unfortunately, this ignorance
too often continues until she is dead!
-- Kevin Tarrance, MAVAW vice president, Jacksonville,
Shavone Gadsden, sophomore, Columbia College
on Neanderthal column,
Natalie Mann, Bluffton, SC
In this new section, we will keep track of Statehouse Report's
record of forecasting what goes on in the legislature. For
example, at the beginning of the year, a commentary called
for no roads to be named for living officials. Sixteen days
later, House Speaker David Wilkins introduced such a measure.
In Statehouse Report:
disclosure needed to highlight influence peddlers:
"Voters deserve to know the people and money behind
efforts to influence lawmakers' votes because policies
that are passed will impact people across the state.
Similarly, state lawmakers deserve to know who is behind
efforts to persuade them to vote. More accountability
is called for. State lawmakers should consider beefing
up campaign disclosure laws to cover efforts to influence
In other outlets:
may consider changes to disclosure rules: "Some
lawmakers say they want to know who is behind it all
and think it is time for a change in the disclosure
laws. 'This thing has the potential
for costing billions of dollars out of the state treasury,
and we as legislators should know whos trying
to influence our state,' said Rep. Ted Vick, D-Chesterfield.
Legislative leaders, including
House Speaker David Wilkins, R-Greenville, say they
might be willing to consider the idea.
"Siphoning public money for private education could
lead to school resegregation, says the Rev. Joseph A.
Darby, the much-respected African American minister at
Morris Brown A.M.E. Church in Charleston." More.
"Now opponents say that tuition tax credits would
in effect re-segregate the state's schools, with whites
fleeing to private schools and public schools becoming
increasingly black." The
Screen: Changes ahead in House leadership?
may be appointed ambassador, successors lining up,
Post and Courier
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
Long, Driscoll. It's almost a real miracle that Josh
Long and Troy Driscoll were alive after drifting at sea for
State workers. Not only will they get a 4 percent
raise this year, they have the new PERKS card for discounts
Sanford. He lost on vouchers and gained a primary
Myers. Tough Lexington County Solicitor Donnie Myers
is in hot water with a NC drunken driving charge pending.
Santee Cooper. A study ordered by the governor expectedly
says the power utility is valuable. Let's hope the study won't
be used to privatize it.
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Notes veteran lawmaker Sen. Glenn McConnell: "Statehouse
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In each issue of Statehouse Report, you'll get::
Hot issue -- an early peek at weekly commentary
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Radar Screen -- a behind-the-scenes look at what's
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McLemore's World -- an early view of our respected
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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
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Megaphone -- a quote of the week that you'll find
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