S.C. Statehouse Report
Sunday, July 8, 2007
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/07.0708.gov.htm

Big crop of candidates for governor in 2010
By Andy Brack, Publisher

JULY 8, 2007 - - After a frustrating legislative session with more fireworks between lawmakers and the governor, politicos across the state are starting to look at the next gubernatorial election.

By all accounts, the election of 2010 will be a barnburner. That's because it will be wide open: There won't be an incumbent and both major political parties have a good stable of candidates.

Most of the likely candidates are current legislators, but because Gov. Mark Sanford has bashed lawmakers over the last five sessions, consultants say polls show the public might not be as keen on state lawmakers as in the past. That might leave openings for business candidates or mayors.

Here's a rundown of possible gubernatorial candidates gleaned from interviews with several political insiders across the state.

First, the Republicans:

  • Attorney General Henry McMaster. While McMaster could probably keep his current job as long as he wants to, he's one of the most popular statewide Republican officeholders in South Carolina. He's run statewide races and has a strong conservative base in his party. He also has made a name for himself as the state's top law enforcement officer with very public campaigns to thwart domestic violence and gang activity.

  • House Speaker Bobby Harrell. Many don't understand why Harrell would want to give up a powerful position as leader of the House, but word on the street is he is very interested in being governor. He's ramped up a public relations effort that's more vigorous than past speakers in what appears to be an attempt to boost his profile.

  • Congressman Gresham Barrett. The third-term congressman from Oconee County has been making the rounds in the Statehouse to chat up lawmakers. Sources say the former S.C. House member is seriously looking at the gubernatorial bid. If he runs, he may be enough of an "outsider" to the way things work in Columbia to find appeal with voters.

  • Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer. Yes, he said he wouldn't run for governor, but that's never stopped a politician - - and that's what Bauer consummately is. He continues to confound observers by winning elections and shouldn't be counted out - - lead foot and all.

  • Sen. Jim Ritchie. The Spartanburg Republican has statewide ambitions and would be a good, solid choice among the business community. But because he's somewhat unknown statewide, he might just seek the Attorney General post if McMaster runs.


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And the Democrats:

  • Inez Tenenbaum. The former state superintendent of education, who was the top vote-getter for all statewide posts when she was superintendent, reportedly is looking at running for governor. While she lost a high-profile Senate race, she is a tough campaigner and has the ability to raise millions of dollars.

  • Robert Barber. The former S.C. House member who lost a close race to Bauer proved he could raise money and run a statewide race. His experiences in 2006 might just be what the doctor ordered to groom him for higher office - if he doesn't run for U.S. Senate as is rumored.

  • Joe Erwin. The former head of the state Democratic Party is rumored to be looking at the state's top political job. His somewhat outsider status and resume as a successful businessman could be a bonus if people get more fed up with politics in Columbia.

  • Sen. Joel Lourie. The Columbia Democrat has made a name for himself by pushing measures to make nursing homes safer, make school bus trips safer, improve education and increase taxes on cigarettes.

  • Sen. Vincent Sheheen. Not well-known across the state, Sheheen is gaining a reputation of being someone who can get things done across party lines. Example: the Camden Democrat recently pushed through a bill to make presidential primaries paid by the state, not political parties.

  • Rep. James Smith. The former House Democratic leader from Columbia currently is serving with the S.C. National Guard in Afghanistan, just one highlight of a packed resume that makes him an attractive candidate for many.

Bottom line: Both parties have good candidates. Look for these names in the news over the next two years to figure out who the frontrunners will be.

You can reach Andy Brack, publisher of SC Statehouse Report, at brack@statehousereport.com.

Recent commentary

Coker was pulp mill pioneer

A practical aptitude for mechanical things led in 1884 to James Lide Coker Jr. (1863-1931) attending Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, where he graduated with an engineering degree. In his senior thesis, he studied the process of making paper from wood pulp and conceived the idea of substituting the cheap and readily available southern pine for the hardwoods then in general use.


S.C. Statehouse Report has partnered with USC Press to provide readers with a weekly historical excerpt about the state. Each excerpt, which is used with permission and not for republication, is taken from The South Carolina Encyclopedia, a 1,077-page book published in 2006 with entries by almost 600 contributors and edited by noted historian Walter Edgar. We hope you enjoy this new feature.

When Coker returned to Hartsville after college, he convinced his father (merchant and philanthropist James Lide Coker Sr.) to help finance experiments on his scheme, no one having previously attempted the pulp process with pine timber. Working with the American Sulphite Pulp Company, which held a patent of the sulphite process, Coker built an experimental pulp mill in Hartsville in 1890 and, with his father, formed the Carolina Fiber Company. After much difficulty, Coker proved the process effective and began manufacturing the first wood pulp made from pine. His mill and process had a significant influence on the future development of the southern pulp mill industry.

Carolina Fiber had a symbiotic relationship with the Southern Novelty Company, which was formed in 1899 by the Coker family to produce and supply paper cones and tubes to the textile industry. The two family companies combined after Coker's death to form what today is known as Sonoco.

-- Entry by Ned L. Irwin, The South Carolina Encyclopedia

To read more about this or 2,000 entries about South Carolina, check out The South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. Information used by permission.

lighter side
Liberating Libby

Another great cartoon by Bill McLemore:

Recent letters

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Debate over coal warms
From the paid-subscriber issue of Statehouse Report

JUNE 29, 2007 -- Suddenly, a fuel source derided for so long for its ecological and environmental horrors has seemingly become America's best friend. Coal, the other white meat. Coal, it's what's for dinner. Coal, we do power generation right.

And now, Santee Cooper, which provides power to 20 electricity cooperatives and all 46 counties across the state, is beginning a permitting process to build a 600-megawatt coal-burning plant in Florence County to meet the state's growing energy needs.

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Excerpts from The South Carolina Encyclopedia are published with permission and copyrighted 2006 by the Humanities Council SC. Excerpts were edited by Walter Edgar and published by the University of South Carolina Press. No republication is allowed.