Week before last, I posted video from our interview with the other local runoff candidate who should not have won but did — Gwen Kennedy. If you’ll recall, I said at the time that getting her to provide a rationale for her candidacy was "like pulling teeth."
Today — a bit late to do any good, but then I wasn’t able to accomplish much with Ms. Kennedy even though it was ahead of time — I provide a similar clip of Jeanette McBride, who just ousted longtime Richland County Clerk of Court Barbara Scott. Here’s what I had to say about that outcome in my Sunday column:
In the primary on June 10, we endorsed incumbent Barbara Scott,
since — and we saw no clear evidence to the contrary — she was doing an
adequate job running the courthouse, collecting child support payments
and overseeing the other routine duties of the office. She was judged
clerk of the year by the S.C. chapter of the American Board of Trial
Advocates, which surely knows more about the quality of her day-to-day
work than we do.
Before making that decision, we considered endorsing Gloria
Montgomery — who had worked in the clerk’s office for years and seems
to understand it thoroughly (certainly better than we or most voters
do) — or Kendall Corley, who offered some interesting ideas for
But we never for a moment considered endorsing Jeanette McBride.
That’s not because Mrs. McBride is married to former state Rep. Frank
McBride, whose political career ended in 1991 when he pleaded guilty to
vote-selling in the Lost Trust scandal. We didn’t consider her because
she offered us no reason whatsoever to believe that she would do a
better job than Ms. Scott. She didn’t even try. She did not display any
particular interest in what the clerk of court does at all.
She said, quite simply, that she was running because she thought
she could win. She did not explain what went into that calculation, but
so what? She was right.
Her victory will inevitably be compared to the defeat of Harry
Huntley — regarded by many as the best auditor in the state — in
Richland County in 2006. And it will be suggested that both of these
incumbents were the victims of raw racial politics. Mr. Huntley and Ms.
Scott are white; Ms. McBride and Paul Brawley are black. A candidate
who can pick up most of the black votes in a Democratic primary is
increasingly seen as having an advantage in the county.
I hope voters had a better reason than that for turning out
qualified candidates in favor of challengers who seemed to offer no
actual qualifications. In fact, I’m wracking my brain trying to think
of other explanations. Ms. McBride, in her interview, didn’t help with
that. And Mr. Brawley didn’t even bother to talk to The State’s
editorial board, so I have no idea what sort of case he made to voters.
I hope he made some really compelling, defensible argument. I just
haven’t heard it yet.
Mrs. McBride was somewhat more forthcoming in her interview than Ms. Kennedy was, but still rather vague. She seemed to be going through the motions with fuzzy observations about the clerk’s office having poor communication, or not being "inclusive" enough. One was left with the distinct impression that she was running, not because she had any clue how to run the courthouse better, but because she believed she could win. And of course, she was right.
Note how, at the end of the clip, she brightens considerably as she explains, with a contented shrug, that "I think the people will elect me." And that seemed to be what really motivated her.