Category Archives: Elections

Yes, if ‘Downton Abbey’ were set in the US, it would be in SC


Soon after I moved back to S.C., I was struck by how much my home state was like the England of a couple of generations back — or at least, how its ruling class was like that of the older England. I’d read in books how when one member of the public school set met another, they could usually find a personal connection in one of three ways — family, school or military unit.

On one of my first visits to the State House, I either participated in or overheard conversations in which connections were made in each of those three ways. The Citadel or Wofford may not be Oxford, but the interpersonal dynamics were the same.

(Before I came home to SC, I had never in my work life — in Tennessee and Kansas — met strangers who could make personal connections to me, which gave me a comforting sense of professional distance from sources that I took for granted. Then, one of the first people I met at the State House — Joe Wilson, as it happened — heard my name and said, “Yes, I’ve met your father; he’s doing a great job.” It was bit of a shock. My father at the time was running the junior ROTC program at Brookland-Cayce High School after retiring from the Navy.)

All that was brought back to mind when I was reading a feature in The Washington Post this morning about the origins of the surnames of presidential candidates, and I got to this:


Possible national origins: Scottish or English
Meaning: Have you ever seen the show “Downton Abbey”? It’s a good show (or, at least, has had its good moments). It centers on an expansive British estate at which there are strict social norms and a reliance on maintaining the boundaries of proper manners. If it were in America, it would be set in South Carolina.

“Graham,” as it turns out, is a name identifying residents of Grantham in Lincolnshire. And Lord Grantham is the main character in “Downton Abbey.”

As for “Grantham,” it’s apparently a combination of “homestead” — -ham — and either the Old English word for gravel — grand — or a reference to the name “Granta,” which means “snarler.” Making Lindsey Graham actually Lindsey Guy-who-lives-near-a-gravelly-home-or-near-where-the-snarler-lives….

Yes. An American Downton would likely be in South Carolina. In the Lowcountry, I would expect. Think Hobcaw Barony or something like that…

That’s right. In SC, who the governor is matters more than who the U.S. senator is

The Washington Post was musing about why David Vitter’s prostitute problem didn’t keep him from being re-elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010, but did keep him from being elected governor of Louisiana this year.

And I was surprised and pleased to see that the Post, despite its Beltway perspective, had the insight to list this reason first:

1.  Louisianans care much more about who their governor is than who their senator is. It might be hard for many in Washington to grasp, but Louisiana is far from alone in caring more about who its governor is than who goes to the Senate from the state. (New Jersey, California and Texas are three others that jump to mind.) “Voters have a higher standard for governor than someone they send off to Washington,” said Bob Mann, a professor of mass communication at Louisiana State University who was a top aide to former senator John Breaux (D).

Added Curt Anderson, a Republican consultant who advises outgoing Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal: “In Louisiana, they take the governor’s race seriously. They feel like they are voting for the head man for the state. They do not take Senate races very seriously. The job of a senator from Louisiana is to go to Washington and try to stop the madness in D.C. and oppose [President Obama] Obama. That’s it. If you can do that, fine.”  

Simply put: The bar that Vitter needed to clear was MUCH higher in the governor’s race than in his 2010 Senate bid.  And he never really understood that or came close to clearing it.

Indeed. That’s a point I’ve made many times over the years here in South Carolina. In fact, back when the news first broke that Inez Tenenbaum was going to run for the U.S. Senate in 2004, I called her to ask why she wanted to waste time doing that; South Carolina needed a good governor far more than it needed to send its talent to Washington to engage in the eternal, pointless, partisan wars.

Yet time and again in this state and others, you’ve seen governors use their posts as stepping-stones to the Senate, sometimes even appointing themselves when a Senate vacancy occurs. I can’t speak for other states, but if talented, smart politicos really care about South Carolina, we can use them here a whole lot more than we can up there.

Of course, some people are more suited for the Washington stage than for the State House. Lindsey Graham comes to mind. And the country (not the state, but the nation) needs good senators — better ones than we have now. But here in SC, if someone has what it takes to be a good governor, I’d rather they stay here and run for that. Too few people who could make a difference do…

Not to be outdone, Graham calls for war ‘with no limits’

Just in case I missed it in my daily perusal of The Washington Post (and somehow I had), Sen. Graham’s office made sure I knew that, while Jeb! Bush may be calling for boots on the ground, Graham is not going to give up his status as the undisputed hawk in the field:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is readying an authorization of military force against the Islamic State that would allow the United States to attack the militant group’s allies anywhere, and with no timetables.

“ISIL is a more credible threat to our homeland than al-Qaeda,” Graham said in an interview, referring to the Islamic State by one of its other names. “We need to have an authorization of force that is not limited by geography, time, or means.”

The resolution, which Graham plans to officially introduce after the Thanksgiving recess, is being shaped and shopped around to senators on Wednesday. “No geographic limits are placed on American military or intelligence services in the fight against ISIL,” reads the outline of the in-process legislation. “No expiration date. No prohibition on sending American forces on the ground to combat ISIL. No prohibitions on the ability of the United States to disrupt online terrorist recruitment activities, online terrorist propaganda, or terrorist communications.”

All of that makes Graham’s AUMF further-reaching than any comparable ones — none of which have gotten traction in Congress….

Read the whole story here.


THIS would be too much government, FYI

Frequently, my libertarian friends here on the blog accuse me of loving Big Government so much that I’ve never seen an expansion of it that I didn’t like.

Not true. And in his column today, George Will reminded me of a Trump proposal that I regard as an utterly unwarranted and highly objectionable expansion of government:

Watch Trump on YouTube and consider his manner in light of his stupendously unconservative proposal, made one day earlier, for a federal police force. (It would conduct about 500,000 deportations a month to remove approximately 11.4 million illegal immigrants intwo years).

I am completely opposed to turning this nation into a police state.

Remember this next time you wonder where I would draw the line.

Columbians, did you vote today?

forum four

The candidates at last week’s Community Relations Council meeting, apparently listening to one of my questions.

And if you did vote and don’t mind sharing, how did you vote, and why?

And if you think such questions are none of my or anyone else’s business, fair enough. What can you share. Any trouble voting? Were you alone at the polling place, or was the turnout better than anyone expected?

And regardless of how you voted, or would vote if you could (since the political entity of Columbia encompasses a much smaller area than the economic community, many of us lack the franchise), who do you think will win, and why? And is that a good or bad thing?

In other words, this is an Open Thread on the municipal runoff today…

Live-Tweeting the Democratic debate

dem debate

Missed most of the first half-hour because I lost BOTH TV signal and my wi-fi. Up and running now, though.

Glad to see The State endorsing in city council runoff

I was really glad this morning to see The State endorsing in the District 2 race. That causes me to expect an endorsement Sunday in the at-large runoff.

These are the first endorsements I’ve seen since the editorial department was reduced to one, which I was worried would mean no more endorsements. While the editorial board has always consisted of more than the editorial department (the publisher in my day, the publisher and the executive editor and I think at least one other today), the actual legwork necessary to an endorsement was always done by those of us in the department.

So I was glad to see such a thoughtful, in-depth analysis of the District 2 race, ending in an endorsement of Aaron Bishop. Personally, I had no idea which of those guys I would have endorsed. I haven’t done the legwork. So I got a lot of food for thought out of what The State said — which, after all, is the purpose of an endorsement. As I’ve said so many times over the years, an endorsement is less about the who than about the why.

I look forward to the Sunday piece. I have a pretty good idea which way they’ll go, but I’m not at all convinced I would go that way — so I look forward to the seeing the arguments advanced.

The CRC forum went well. Y’all shoulda been there

CRC forum

The city council runoff candidate’s forum sponsored by the Greater Columbia Community Relations Council went pretty well. We had a full house, and we had pretty good coverage from The State, WIS, WACH, ABC Columbia and Free Times. Follow the links for their coverage.

The coverage sort of seized on the “jabs” and “barbs” the candidates aimed at each other. There was plenty of that, in part stimulated by some of my questions. And while I had worried that it would be funky doing one forum with people running for two offices, it sort of worked, largely because these guys have split up into tag teams: Howard Duvall and Ed McDowell vs. Andy Smith and Aaron Bishop.

I wasn’t just going for pointless conflict, but I made sure to ask at least one question of each candidate that required him to address a perceived problem or weakness — not just to put them on the spot, but to give them a chance to address, before an audience, these things that people have been saying about them. (And in the case of Duvall and Smith, based on my interviews, I already knew that they had pretty good answers for the questions. People deserved to hear those answers.)

After a softball question or two to all (“What is Columbia’s greatest need, and how will electing you help achieve it?”), I asked one “edgy” question of each. That was really all I had time for in the hour before we went to closing remarks, because I let them go back and forth — response, rebuttal, then (if new allegations came up in the rebuttal, which happened often) another round. I wanted them to say all they had to say, as long as it didn’t drag — and it didn’t.

Here were the individualized questions:

  • To McDowell: “Mayor Steve Benjamin has criticized your ties with former councilman E.W. Cromartie. Please describe your relationship with Mr. Cromartie, and talk about why that is not a problem in your mind.”
  • To Bishop: “We don’t have parties in the usual sense in city elections, but you and Mr. Smith have both been endorsed by Mayor Steve Benjamin, while your opponents seem to be running against him. What should voters think about your ties to the mayor?”
  • To Duvall: “A few years back, we had a city councilman who was known as “Councilman No” (I didn’t say so at the forum, but I meant Hamilton Osborne) – whatever it was, he was against it, or at least that was his reputation. You have presented yourself as a needed obstacle to things the mayor wants to do. Will you be a new Councilman No, or do you have a positive vision for the city’s future?”
  • To Smith: “You are up against a candidate with an intimidating resume. Mr. Duvall is a professional at municipal government. Why should voters choose you, a political novice, over someone who has helped run cities for as long as you’ve been alive?”

I was far too busy to take notes, so go look at The State‘s or the TV coverage to see how they replied. Most of the quotes you see arose from those questions.

forum crowd

Jaime Harrison talking to Rachel Maddow about SC Democratic Party

This clip, brought to my attention today by the state Democratic Party, features MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow talking to SC Democratic chair Jaime Harrison during her visit to SC for the debate Friday night.

This is interesting because you see how the state party chair opens up about his challenges when he has a sympathetic ear who nevertheless knows how to ask pointed questions.ATT_b1_Bradwarthen_233x233_011515_d2

As long as he’s got that ear, he makes his pitch through Maddow to the national party for what he terms a Democratic Southern Strategy. He’d like to see the national party get as serious about winning back the South as Harry Dent et al. were about taking it away from them in the 1960s.

He also talks about his biggest challenge — the lack of a bench here in SC. It’s hard to win back anything when you have a scarcity of strong candidates.

Oh, and about that Democratic debate the other night — did you watch it? I confess I didn’t even try. Maybe it’s wrong of me, but I sort of lost interest when Biden said he wouldn’t run, and Hillary just stomped all over her opposition in the previous debate — and the GOP failed to lay a glove on her in the Benghazi hearing. If she gets in serious trouble again (like, email-server trouble or worse), I might get interested again. Until then, we know whom the Democrats are going to nominate…

Thoughts on last night’s debate(s)?

Above and below you see two of my most popular Tweets (out of 39) from during the GOP debate last night. This is the kind of incisive commentary you won’t find elsewhere.

OK, truth be told, I later saw that Nicholas Kristof had the same idea I did re William Jennings Bryan, but that’s OK. Great minds and all that.

But I’m putting up this post to ask what y’all thought of the debate.

Just some quick overall impressions from me:

    • I was struck a number of times at how this sounded like a debate featuring candidates of some party other than the Republican, such as Rand Paul’s opposition to a strong defense, Ted Cruz’ criticism of corporate fat cats, and Marco Rubio’s tax credit for child care.
    • Meanwhile, the most perfect embodiment of traditional Republicanism, Jeb Bush, continued to fail to pull away from the pack.
    • Trump was marginally more buffoonish than in past events, I thought. Will his supporters notice. My fave LOL Trump moment — when he asked with regard to Carly Fiorina, “Why does she keep interrupting?” Yeah, Donald! Doesn’t she know men are talking?
    • Actually, I’m serious about the West Coast thing (below). It’s ridiculous for debates to start that late at night.
    • I think Cruz had the best night, followed by either Rubio or Kasich.


Come to the city council candidates’ forum tonight!

Notice how I threw in that exclamation point to get y’all excited? Is it working?

I hope so, because I’d like some of y’all to turn out. The Greater Columbia Community Relations Council will host a candidates’ forum tonight feature all four of the Columbia City Council candidates who are in next week’s runoff: At-large candidates Howard Duvall and Andy Smith, and District 2 candidates Ed McDowell and Aaron Bishop.ATT_b1_Bradwarthen_233x233_011515_d2

It will be at 7 p.m. at the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce offices at 930 Richland Street.

How are we having a forum for two different offices? Like this: We’ll ask a question of the candidates for one office, then ask another question of both candidates for the other. Not perfect, perhaps, but it seemed the simplest way of handling it without trying to schedule two separate events in a tight time frame.

Originally, this was to have been televised live, but that fell through at the last minute. So instead of this being moderated by a smooth broadcast professional, the questioners will be CRC Executive Director Henri Baskins (who’s pretty smooth in her own right) and yours truly. If you come, don’t boo us too much — we’re last-minute substitutes, doing our best. (See how I lowered expectations there, despite the fact that I’ve moderated debates in the past and been paid for it? If candidates can play that game, so can moderators.)

Those of you who can vote in this election should come on out. This might be your last chance to compare the candidates in person…

SC Democrats are becoming what SC Republicans once were

This news from The Hill:

… is hardly news to us in South Carolina. We knew that since Joe Biden (who had a lot of support among party regulars here) said definitively that he would not run, Hillary has had our primary pretty much sewn up.

But it made me realize something.

For a generation, South Carolina Republicans were known for always choosing their party’s eventual nominee in their presidential preference primaries. It’s one reason why the nation paid so much attention to what happened here.

Then, in 2012, they went nuts and chose Newt Gingrich over the guy everyone knew would be the eventual nominee. This year, they’re gaga over Donald Trump and Ben Carson, and if either of those guys is the eventual nominee, the national Republican Party might as well have a going-out-of-business sale.

But the Democrats in South Carolina are showing the centrist conservatism for which their rivals were once known, lining up dutifully behind the establishment candidate who is ordained to pull the sword from the stone.

Maybe in the future, the nation’s pundits will watch our endangered Democrats as closely as they have watched the GOP here in the past…

Video: McCain urging N.H. to vote for Graham

Lindsey Graham may not be on the debate stage tonight, but he’s on the airwaves in New Hampshire — or rather, John McCain is, in Graham’s behalf.

From The Washington Post:

Two Graham radio ads launched in conjunction with the TV spot also feature the Arizona senator, and in an interview last week, Graham said he had no intention of quitting.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Graham said. “I’m going to stick to what I’m doing. I’ve always thought that using national polls for [debate] selection is ridiculous.”

Graham’s campaign said that the ads would start airing today, in a “significant buy.” His war chest, built on the one that got him through a 2014 Senate reelection, is about $1.6 million, putting him closer to the middle of the 2016 pack than the bottom.

Andy Smith says his campaign is about Columbia’s future

Andy Smith


Andy Smith came in second behind Howard Duvall in Tuesday’s voting, but “we had such enthusiastic voters” that he’s optimistic about his ability to come out on top on Nov. 17.

The key, he said, is “keeping our base engaged,” and turning out people who maybe didn’t get out on Tuesday.

I asked him how he defined that base, and he said it included LGBT voters, the arts community, those 50 and under and young professionals. At this point, I told him, I was feeling a bit left out. Just kidding. (In fact, I should disclose that Andy and his wife, Kimi Maeda, are friends with my elder son and daughter-in-law.)ATT_b1_Bradwarthen_233x233_011515_d2

Since he mentioned LGBT folks first, I wondered — would his base be less motivated now that Cameron Runyan was out of it? He said he didn’t think so.

In fact, he emphasized that his campaign was far less about what this or that person had done in the past, and more about what Columbians together could do in the future.

“We’re the only campaign talking about ideas for the future,” he said. “We’re not negatively motivated; we’re actually the reverse.”

What does he mean by that? He cites the prediction by the Urban Land Institute — he was involved in ULI’s Reality Check two years ago — that the Midlands would grow by 500,000 people over the next three decades. He’s among those convinced that the way for that bigger city to be the kind we want to live in, it needs to attract both talented workers and successful entrepreneurs.

Although he didn’t put it this way, to some extent he meant people like himself.

Andy Smith grew up in Columbia, the son of a retired two-star Army general and the grandson of a brigadier. He went away to Swarthmore for his undergraduate degree, and did graduate work at UCLA. He came back home after an epiphany following the 2004 presidential election.

At the time, he was one of many “young, progressive people from the South” who “had all moved to the blue states.” After the election, he was looking at a map showing which states had gone for Bush and which for Kerry, and was struck by how divided the country was.

He decided he would no longer surround himself only with people who saw the world the way he did. He came home. “Places like Columbia are very special,” he said. Someone like him is “forced to interact with people who disagree with you all the time.” And he sees that as a good thing. “I moved back here determined that I’m just going to change the world.

Five years ago he became executive director of Nickelodeon Theater. The bio on his campaign website describes his tenure thusly:

Under his leadership, the Nickelodeon moved to the renovated Fox Theater in the heart of Columbia’s burgeoning Main Street, doubling its annual attendance and growing its budget to over $1 Million annually. Andy is also the founder and co-director of the Indie Grits Festival, named twice by MovieMaker Magazine as one of the “20 Coolest Film Festivals in the World.” Columbia Business Monthly named Andy to its 2014 “50 Most Influential People” list and Free Times named him one of “50 People who Get Things Done” in 2015.

He sees his candidacy as a logical next step in helping build and maintain a livable community.

Some other things we talked about during our interview today at the Vista Starbucks:

  • What about his relationship with the mayor, since this runoff is being described as the Benjamin team (Smith and Bishop) versus the mayor’s detractors (Duvall and McDowell)? He sort of laughed as he said “The mayor is one of many people who have offered advice.” He has found that when you’re running for public office, a lot of people come out of the woodwork to offer such advice and aid, both “solicited and unsolicited.”
  • One of the key issues that has divided the mayor and Howard Duvall was the strong mayor initiative, which Duvall was instrumental in scuttling. He said that while be believes a community needs “strong leaders,” he doesn’t have strong opinions regarding what the best form of government might be. He did vote for the proposal, but he sees the form as less important than the quality of individual leaders.
  • Smith is half the age of Duvall, who is also a retired professional at running municipalities. Smith is unfazed by his opponent’s resume. Sure, Duvall is an expert on the nuts and bolts of running a town, but “We have a philosophical difference about the proper role of a council person.” Smith doesn’t think an elected councilman should be “getting involved in the nitty-gritty that you want staff to do.” A member of council should “think big,” concerning himself with policy rather than the minutiae of administration. “Retain talented people; let them do their jobs.” For his part, speaking of the Nickelodeon’s key role in transforming Main Street, “I have 10 years of experience actually turning our city around, and that’s the kind of experience we actually need on council.”
  • He noted that he was “talking about water and sewer before the flood,” based on personal experience. He and his wife live in the Earlwood neighborhood, and their tap water was brown, forcing them to drink bottled water from the grocery.
  • Like his opponent, he sees crime as a big issue, especially since he and his wife have been “awakened by gunshots” in their neighborhood. “Not feeling safe in your home is just terrible.” He believes it is essential to hire and retain the best people as first-responders.
  • He says the city has not done enough to take care of the good “things that make us unique — such as “our rivers, which we continue to dump sewage into.”
  • He sees the need for a citywide comprehensive cultural plan, which would help Columbia obtain grant money that would further develop the arts, making the city that much more attractive to the “creative class” that Richard Florida speaks of.

“I think we have all the pieces we need to be successful. So much has happened almost despite city council in the past.” He believes he can help provide the right leadership to keep the community moving forward.

Andy Smith 2

Howard Duvall: Now the donors are calling HIM

Hal with Howard

Hal Stevenson talks with Howard Duvall at the Starbucks on Gervais.

I found Howard Duvall Thursday on the sidewalk in front of the Vista Starbucks, talking on his cell phone.

Afterwards, he tells me there’s been a change since he was the top vote-getter in his bid for the at-large seat on Columbia City Council Tuesday. He still spends much of the day trying to raise money, but he doesn’t have to call them so much as “People are calling me now.” He has no illusions as to the source of his new popularity: “They want my ear later on.”

Some of those donors may assume he’ll win the runoff on Nov. 17, but he’s being careful not to jinx himself. “It’s a brand new election,” he said. “If they’d let you bank that 15 percent” he’d feel more like the winner, a reference to the fact that he received just under 40 percent of the meager vote Tuesday, while his runoff opponent got 25 percent.ATT_b1_Bradwarthen_233x233_011515_d2

I saw evidence that he’s picking up at least some support from third-place finisher Cameron Runyan, who lost his seat on Tuesday: Hal Stevenson, who recently had a fund-raiser at his home for Runyan, plans to back Duvall now. Hal owns the building in which the Starbucks is located, and the offices of his Grace Outdoor billboard company are right upstairs, so you can find him there with coffee in hand a lot. And before Mr. Duvall and I sit down for an interview, Hal promises to send him a check.

Then we sit down to talk — me with a tall, black Gold Coast, him with one of the fancier drinks — and the first thing I ask him about is his alliance with District 2 candidate Ed McDowell against Mayor Steve Benjamin’s preferred candidates, Andy Smith and Aaron Bishop.

Duvall sort of downplays that, saying that he’s become friends with McDowell after meeting him at the kickoff for National Night Out at the end of July. For that matter, he says he’s even gotten to be friendly with his opponent Andy Smith, from running into him on the campaign trail.

And he doesn’t like to be described as anti-Steve Benjamin: “I like Steve Benjamin. We’ve been friends for years. We have a long and pleasant history.”

“I’m not anti Benjamin; I’m just pro fiscal responsibility” — the implication, of course, being that he doesn’t think the mayor always is.

As for McDowell’s connection to E.W. Cromartie, which the mayor loves to mention, “Cromartie has served his time,” and “is well respected” by a lot of people in the community. For those who forget Mr. Cromartie, The State provided this primer:

But McDowell has said previously that he has accepted campaign contributions and political advice from E.W. Cromartie. The controversial former District 2 political powerhouse is more of an adviser than a contributor, McDowell said in a previous interview. Cromartie lost his seat after a federal conviction for tax evasion and for trying to hide what he was doing from the Internal Revenue Service. He served about a year in prison and is back home….

Here are some other things we talked about:

  • I forget how it came up — it may have been a segue from Duvall’s conversation with Hal Stevenson and his support for Runyan — but the candidate urged me to check out this clip from the GOP-sponsored debate at Doc’s Barbecue, in which Duvall told voters “I’m not running to be your priest.”
  • He hasn’t spoken to incumbent Runyan since he and Smith outpolled him Tuesday, although he tried: “I called him; he didn’t answer his cell phone.” He says he left a message in which “I thanked him for his service.”
  • I asked what he was hearing from voters as he knocked on doors across the city. He said the thing that has struck him the most is that crime is seen as a problem in every neighborhood in the city. He was surprised to learn that there had been three recent drive-by shootings in the Melrose area.
  • When he spoke about his opposition to a development that he feared would be harmful to the Gills Creek watershed, I noted that between that and his opposition to the ballpark, some might think of him as anti-development. I asked whether that bothered him, and he said “I love to build things,” but again, “My main concern is the financial management.” He’s worried that Columbia has maxed out its capacity for general obligation bond, and has turned to the “payday lender” of municipal financing — installment purchase bonds. This was followed by an explanation of how such bonds work that was over my head. The upshot was that they are expensive, risky instruments. If y’all must know how they work and why they concern him in detail, I’ll track him down and get the explanation on video or something. I am not a good vessel for relaying such information.
  • And his problems with the Bull Street project extend beyond the financing. He says the project has morphed from a good plan for a mixed-use urban village to an “entertainment district that will cannibalize the Vista and Five Points.
  • He said he’s raised about $80,000 for his campaign and has about $9,000 left. By the time the runoff is over, he expects to have spent $100,000, which is what he had planned to spend.

I then asked him whether there was anything he thought the mayor and present council had done that was good. And he didn’t have to think hard to come up with examples:

  • The ongoing redevelopment of Main Street. The Nickelodeon and Mast General, to be more specific.
  • The hiring of Police Chief Skip Holbrook after a nightmarish period of instability. “They hired a pro” who has done a lot of good for the city.
  • A reduction in transfers from water and sewer to use as general funding.

He said they’ve done good on “a lot of basic things.” So he’s not against everything that’s happened during Steve Benjamin’s tenure. But he does think the city needs him as a check on some of the “undebated projects that the mayor brings up.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: I have an interview with Andy Smith set up for Saturday afternoon, so I should have a post from that sometime over the weekend.

Howard at Starbucks

You won’t have Cameron Runyan to kick around any more

File photo: Howard Duvall in July

File photo: Howard Duvall in July

Y’all, I’m about to run into a meeting, but I thought I’d provide a post about the results (so far) of the city election.

Here’s The State‘s story.

Runyan in happier times.

Runyan in happier times.

I wasn’t a bit surprised that Howard Duvall was the big vote-getter in the Columbia at-large council race — his resume beats everyone else’s, hands-down — but I was slightly surprised that incumbent Cameron Runyan didn’t make it into the runoff.

I’ll share other thoughts in the comment thread when I get caught up later, but I figured I’d better put up a post so y’all can get started without me…

Did Lindsey Graham steal the JV show last night?

That seems to be the consensus of what I’ve read about the undercard debate.

I wouldn’t know, of course, because CNBC wanted to charge me to watch, and the World Series was free, so guess what I watched? (This blog would have to pay a lot more than it does for me to buy cable just for blogging purposes.)

As for the big-table debate, from what I’ve gathered from various sources, the main points were:

  • Big night for Rubio and Cruz.
  • Bad night for Jeb Bush.
  • The candidates and other GOP types went on a Spiro Agnew media-bashing spree.
  • Trump and Carson were relatively quiet, except for Trump bashing Kasich.

Here’s a transcript if you want it. I don’t have time to read it right now.

Among those of you who saw it: Thoughts?

The most amazing thing about Trump is that his supporters think he can WIN next fall

You may have seen that Donald Trump’s support in South Carolina has now reached the dizzying height of 40 percent of respondents who identify themselves as likely GOP primary voters.

No, the bubble hasn’t popped yet, even though everything we’ve seen in past elections would suggest it would have happened a couple of months back.

Do you wonder why? I certain do. Well, here’s why:

The conventional wisdom among Donald Trump’s detractors is that his current surge in the polls won’t last because as we get closer to actual voting, Republicans excited by his political incorrectness will start factoring in “electability.” When GOP voters realize that he can’t beat Hillary Clinton, the theory goes, they will switch their support to other more electable candidates.

One problem with that theory: Right now, GOP voters believe Trump is the most electable candidate.

A new Post/ABC News poll asked GOP-leaning voters which candidate “has the best chance of getting elected president in November 2016?” The winner was Trump by a landslide. An incredible 43 percent of GOP voters say that Trump is the most electable GOP candidate. In a distant second place, Ben Carson trails Trump on electability by 27 points, while Jeb Bush — whose entire rationale for his campaign is electability — trails Trump on electability by 30 points. Since the same poll found Trump with 32 percent support, that means even GOP voters who do not support Trump still believe he is most likely to beat the Democrats in 2016. A new Associated Press-GfK pollconfirms this, finding that “Seven in 10 Republicans and Republican-leaning registered voters say they think Trump could win in November 2016 if he were nominated; that’s the most of any Republican candidate.”…

That may be the single most amazing thing that I’ve read or heard about the continuing popularity of this guy.

I suppose there’s a sort of cognitive block that prevents Trump supporters from imagining how non-Trump supporters see things. So they imagine a majority will agree with them.

I suppose all of us are susceptible to such lacks of insight. I, for one, find it very difficult to understand how anyone could imagine Donald Trump winning the presidency next November. This is perhaps a defense mechanism on my part: If I could imagine it, I wouldn’t sleep nights…

Y’all, an endorsement involves CHOOSING…

And sometimes, the hardest choices are when you like everybody.

You saw the other day that Steve Benjamin endorsed Andy Smith to replace his erstwhile protege Cameron Runyan.

Well, SC Equality PAC set out to do endorsement interviews, and couldn’t choose between the two candidates they talked to:

SC Equality PAC’s Endorsement for the Columbia City Council At-Large Member Election

Columbia, SC.  The mission of the South Carolina Equality Political Action Committee (PAC) is to elect fair-minded people to public office who oppose all forms of discrimination but especially against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities.

We have had an opportunity to personally and rigorously interview two (2) candidates who are running to be the next at-large member of the City of Columbia City Council. We invited all persons who are running for this at-large seat to interview with us but only two candidates responded – Howard Duvall and Andy Smith.

We asked both Duvall and Smith their overall vision if elected, plans for campaigning, and how strongly, if at all, they support the rights of LGBT communities and citizens across a wide range of issues from marriage equality to transgender identity rights.

We were very pleasantly surprised that both candidates demonstrated a genuine, personal commitment to upholding and further advancing the rights of all LGBT citizens in the City of Columbia across various dimensions of quality of life and citizenship.  We also were quite pleased that both candidates articulated a strong vision of progress for the City of Columbia and the equal seat at the table that LGBT citizens must occupy as part of that progress.  They bring unique talents, experiences, and deep ties to Columbia communities and would be outstanding public servants.

Therefore, we are taking the unique step of endorsing both Andy Smith and Howard Duvall for this city council race; for they are both candidates who meet all of our criteria for endorsement and thus we urge the LGBT community and our many allies to see either of their candidacies as in the best interest of LGBT communities.

Andy Smith is well-known by many LGBT leaders in Columbia given his leadership as the Executive Director of the nationally-recognized Nickelodeon Theater on the city’s downtown Main Street.  Andy has experience in electoral politics for in 2006 he served as the campaign manager for Robert Barber’s run for SC Lieutenant Governor.  As a native of South Carolina, Andy has deep ties to this state and the City of Columbia.  He has a very progressive vision about serving the needs of LGBT citizens in Columbia including the city and its Police Department having an LGBT Ombudsman as modeled after the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.  Andy also wants to ensure that the city do all it can to expand ordinances that protect the rights of LGBT citizens while serving as a faithful ally while SC Equality and others lobby the General Assembly to enact Hate Crimes legislation among other measures.  Andy has both a deep and abiding commitment to the LGBT community and a love for the city of Columbia.  He wants Columbia to continue to advance as a not only a progressive city but as an attractive and affordable city where balanced job creation and economic development occur.  He has demonstrated his commitment to such via the Nickelodeon Theater.  In the past ten years, the Nickelodeon has grown from a several hundred thousand dollar operation to a now $5 million organization that has spurred economic development, commercial investment, and patronage in and around its mainstream corridor to the tune of about $1 million. It also has demonstrated that it is a good neighbor in many ways, including it’s media education program with C.A. Johnson High School, it’s outreach program to LGBT youth, and it’s working with local homeless shelters to create an inclusive downtown neighborhood.

Howard Duvall has been described by the Free Times newspaper as, “a candidate with a wealth of experience in dealing with municipal government.”  For 20 years, Duvall served as the Executive Director of the Municipal Association of South Carolina; the state’s premiere organization for advising and researching issues related to the best governance of cities and towns.  He also has direct experience serving in elected office for he has both served as a member of the City Council and as the Mayor of the Town of Cheraw.  But in our extensive interviews we also discovered that Howard has a deep commitment to fairness and equality for all citizens, most especially LGBT Citizens.  Along with the heartfelt story that Howard shared with us about seeing the unjust personal battles persons in his family had to wage because they were LGBT, he has worked within the Episcopalian Church to expand its welcoming of not only lesbian, gay, and bisexual parishioners but transgender persons as well.  He is genuinely committed to maintaining Columbia’s image as a progressive and inclusive city by upholding and further expanding city ordinances that protect LGBT employees and other citizens.  Howard wants to bring his wealth of insights about the best practices of municipal government to the Columbia City Council to ensure even-handed job creation and economic development; the further development of a progressive tax system; and creative ideas about updating the aging infrastructure of the city.

In the wake of the terrible storms and great floods of 2015, we join with both Andy and Howard to encourage persons to get involved to aid families and businesses who are in great need as well as to assist in efforts at recovery and rebuilding.

It is for all of these reasons that we take this unique opportunity to strongly endorse these two leaders who will be good for the LGBT community and good for the City of Columbia overall.

The mission of the South Carolina Equality Political Action Committee (PAC) is to elect fair-minded people to public office who oppose all forms of discrimination but especially against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities. 


Come on, y’all! Belly up and choose! Sheesh. Amateurs…