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Lots to consider in making 2003 political resolutions
By Andy Brack
S.C. Statehouse Report

DEC. 29, 2002 - - With the New Year and a legislative session dominated by Republicans just around the corner, there's got to be a lot of people making political resolutions. Here are some suggestions for them to consider:

Gov.-elect Mark Sanford: Listen and learn about state government before trying to squeeze blood (more cuts, less government) out of turnips (state agencies).

Outgoing Gov. Jim Hodges: Don't give up on public service. Start by helping to get the Democratic Party back on the road by working to build the party's strengths.

House Speaker David Wilkins (R-Greenville): Build bridges to keep House Republicans from fracturing on major issues this year. Also, after eight years of failing to get consensus on a truth-in-sentencing bill to make violent offenders serve 85 percent of their time, it might be a good idea to spend political capital elsewhere.

Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell (R-Charleston): Push through real reform to transform the state Public Service Commission and don't get too hung up on the CSS Hunley submarine.

State Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum: Use education as a platform to fuel forays into myriad statewide issues to highlight how you are the likely Democratic challenger to Sanford in the 2006 gubernatorial race.

State budget writers, House Ways & Means Chairman Bobby Harrell (R-Charleston) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence): Don't be scared of raising revenues, such as boosting taxes on cigarettes and gasoline, to fund state government. State agencies have been cut to the bone over the last three years. Remember that while taxpayers always say they want lower taxes, they also want government services. Balance those desires - - don't just pay attention to the first.

State agencies. It's going to be hard, but you're going to have to learn to multi-task - - to do more with less - - because more cuts loom and the state's financial picture remains bleak for a couple of years.

State lawmakers. Pay more attention and do more homework to become better informed on issues on which you're voting. Earlier this year, we suggested a weekly bipartisan issues training session to help lawmakers become more well-rounded. It's time to consider making this happen.

State lawmakers also ought to strive to put the interests of the state and her citizens first, not the interests of political parties.

Democratic presidential candidates: Because South Carolina is going to be a very important state for presidential contenders, candidates should get out and meet people - - not just party loyalists - - so they will understand what South Carolinians really want. If Democratic presidential candidates can craft a message to appeal to moderate South Carolinians of both parties, they might stand a better chance nationally in 2004.

S.C. Democratic Party: Use the attention focused on the presidential primary to rebuild the party from its grassroots. Also, craft a message so the party stands for something more than, "Vote for us; we're not Republicans."

S.C. Republican Party: Now that you've got your finances in order and control of the General Assembly and Governor's mansion, don't self-destruct in factional battles.

U.S. Sen.-elect Lindsey Graham: Remember you're representing all South Carolinians - - black and white, Republican and Democrat - - not just your conservative ideological soul mates.

U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond: Don't invite U.S. Sen. Trent Lott to any more parties.


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