Category Archives: Elections

‘Doctors for Sheheen,’ and more on the Medicaid expansion that wasn’t

This release came over the transom last night:

Sheheen Campaign Launches “Doctors for Sheheen”
Doctors want an honest leader like Vincent Sheheen who puts South Carolinians ahead of personal political gain 
Camden, SC – Today, Sheheen for South Carolina launched “Doctors for Sheheen,” a grassroots effort uniting Democratic and Republican doctors and medical professionals from around the state who want a governor to put politics aside, do what’s right for the people, and use tax dollars responsibly and honestly.
Rural hospitals are struggling and closing because of Nikki Haley’s decision to block South Carolinians’ own Medicaid tax dollars from coming back to the state. A study shows that expanding Medicaid would create 44,000 jobs, and help hundreds of thousands of working families. Medical professionals are standing with Vincent Sheheen to restore common sense and honesty to the state’s leadership.
Tonight, Sen. Sheheen will kick-off “Doctors for Sheheen” with a state-wide launch call for supporter in the medical field. Through this grassroots effort, Sen. Sheheen will work with medical professionals on hearing solutions to improve our healthcare system, addressing the financial struggles in rural hospitals, bringing our hard-earned tax dollars back to South Carolina to not only provide coverage to children, veterans and senior citizens, but will also end penalties on local businesses, and keep billions of dollars in revenue in South Carolina.
Medical professionals across the state are joining Doctors for Sheheen and showing their support for Vincent:
Dr. Donna Miller Potts, Anderson County:
 “As a free clinic volunteer, I come across too many hardworking people every day who don’t receive coverage from their employer, and don’t qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private health insurance. They often feel backed into a corner with no options available to them and Governor Haley just doesn’t get it. She allows our federal tax dollars meant to fund local hospitals go to other states. We need Vincent as our governor because we need a governor who actually cares about South Carolina.”
Dr. Theresa Alderson, Kershaw County:
“The biggest problem with the health care debate is too many leaders are worried about the politics instead of being worried about the people. Nikki Haley’s refusal to expand Medicaid in South Carolina makes no sense. Nikki Haley is hurting our economy — leaving tens of thousands of new jobs on the table, and sending billions of our hard-earned tax dollars to other states. This isn’t a matter of political ideology, it’s a matter of common sense. As a doctor, as a Republican, and as a South Carolinian, I believe we need an honest and logical leader who gets it.”
Dr. Charles Rittenberg, Charleston County:
“There are over 200,000 South Carolinians from working families who are going without healthcare because of Governor Haley’s refusal to expand Medicaid. Some of those working South Carolinians or their children could die because Haley has allowed our federal tax dollars, which we’ve already paid, to go to other states. Vincent Sheheen will work with our legislature to correct this problem and, according to a study from the University of South Carolina, the Medicaid expansion with create 44,000 jobs in South Carolina not just in the big cities, but all over the state.”
Dr. Elizabeth Mack, Richland County:
“Throughout my career, working to save children’s lives has been the ultimate privilege. But in recent years, it’s become increasingly difficult to take care of patients. When South Carolina did not accept our Medicaid expansion, insurance premiums spiked for many people. As a result, many patients could not get access to health care. This affects us all. South Carolinians deserve better.”
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You know, of all the sins that her critics have tried to pin on Nikki Haley, her deliberate refusal to allow Medicaid expansion is the one in which she most clearly, deliberately and with malice aforethought did the wrong thing.

Seems we’d hear more about it from Sheheen.

And perhaps we will. This morning, the S.C. Democratic party put out this release in that same vein:

Today with Chris Christie, Nikki Haley will claim South Carolina’s economy is booming — but don’t be fooled by her smoke and mirrors. She’s proven time and again that she cannot be trusted.

 

The truth is: Nikki Haley is sending $11 billion of South Carolinians’ federal tax dollars to states like New Jersey, and she’s blocking 44,000 jobs here at home just because of politics.

 

Nikki Haley is refusing to  create 44,000 jobs. She’s forcing SC residents to pay Federal taxes that will only help other states. Instead of helping working South Carolinians, she’s opposing the Charleston Chamber and economic interests of MUSC. Here’s your daily reminder of the economic reality for South Carolinians over the past three years, which Nikki Haley has been sweeping under the rug:

 

Medicaid Expansion in South Carolina would create 44,000 jobs. “By 2020, the total annual economic impact of the increase in federal funding due to the ACA Medicaid expansion on the state of South Carolina will total approximately $3.3 billion in economic output, $1.5 billion in labor income, and support nearly 44,000 new jobs for South Carolinians. Approximately one – third of these jobs (15,000) are projected to occur outside of the health care industry due to the economic multiplier effect.” [USC Moore School of Business Report December 2012, accessed 03/07/13]

 

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: “We Are Putting People First” – Not Expanding Medicaid Would Send Taxpayer Dollars Elsewhere. “‘[R]efusing these federal dollars would not mean that they wouldn’t be spent. It just means that they will be used to expand health-care access in New York, Connecticut, Ohio or somewhere else. … It’s simple. We’re putting people first.’” [NPR, Political Junkie, 3/4/13]

 

Head of S.C. hospital group says politics blocking Medicaid expansion. “There is a lot of ideology and politics in this debate — it is not just a financial question,” said Thornton Kirby, the state hospital association’s president and chief executive officer. He said South Carolina and other Republican-leaning states “don’t want anything to do” with a federal health-care reform initiative championed by President Barack Obama. [Independent Mail,03/04/13]

 

Charleston Chamber to Gov. Haley: accept Medicaid expansion. “There are two options,” said Bryan Derreberry, president and CEO of the local Chamber. “South Carolina can accept the Medicaid expansion and receive 90 percent of costs from the federal government, or reject the plan and absorb 100 percent of the costs and lose revenue from Washington, D.C.” [The Examiner, 03/07/13]

 

Editorial: Expanding Medicaid in SC. “The only conceivable reason to reject the expansion of Medicaid would be to make a hollow political statement in opposition to Obamacare. But that is political grandstanding at the cost of losing billions of federal dollars to other states and denying health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured South Carolinians. And that, we think, would be impossible to justify.” [Rock Hill Herald, 03/02/13]

 

 

See through Nikki Haley’s smoke & mirrors, read more at www.HaleysSmokeAndMirrors.tumblr.com

If I were Sheheen, I’m not sure I’d WANT more debates

Just got this release from Vincent Sheheen’s campaign:

Sheheen Calls for Four Additional Debates
Democratic gubernatorial candidate confirms participation in both Post & Courier debates, works with Myrtle Beach Area Chamber to push for Grand Strand, Midlands, Aiken & Rock Hill as well.Sheheen crop
Camden, SC – Today, Sen. Vincent Sheheen called for open gubernatorial debates in the Grand Strand/Pee Dee, Midlands, Rock Hill, and Aiken areas after working with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce to resolve their debate scheduling conflicts with the Charleston Post & Courier.
“Honest leadership means looking people in the eye and telling them what you’d do as governor — I can’t think of a more appropriate way to accomplish that than by debating in every region in the state,” said Sen. Vincent Sheheen. “The people of South Carolina deserve the opportunity to hear directly from their candidates for governor, there are plenty of days left until the election do the right thing. I urge my opponents to immediately agree to at least three more debates to cover all regions of the state.”
Last week, The Post and Courier announced their intention to hold a debate in Greenville on October 21st, a date previously requested by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and several of their local media partners. After conversations with the campaign, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce has stated their willingness to find an alternative date for their proposed debate, and as such, Sen. Sheheen confirmed his participation in the Post and Courier/WLOS-TV/WMYA-TV debate in Greenville on October 21st.
“The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce is committed to holding an open forum for honest debate between all the candidates about how to build a stronger state economy,” said Brad Dean, President and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. “We are willing to accommodate schedules, because voters deserve to hear directly from those who are running for the state’s highest office.”
Sen. Sheheen also urged all the other gubernatorial candidates to participate in at least four other debates – in Myrtle Beach, the Midlands, Rock Hill, and Aiken – to ensure that South Carolinians in all parts of the state have the opportunity to see and hear their gubernatorial candidates.
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Yes, I know the Sheheen campaign needs a shot in the arm, but I’m not sure more debates give him that boost.

There’s one area in which Nikki Haley just walks all over Vincent Sheheen — public speaking. She almost always makes a good impression when standing before a group — while Sheheen underwhelms, and when he tries to ramp up his presence (which he’s been doing lately), it looks like he’s trying. She connects well with an audience. I’m not sure I’d want to give her more such opportunities, were I Vincent.

Maybe he doesn’t realize how much better she comes across, or how diffident and offhand he seems. or maybe he’s just willing to try anything at this point.

Frankly, I’ve always sort of doubted the value of debates, especially given how much emphasis we tend to place on them. Should a potential governor, or president, or legislator be judged on stage presence, like a beauty pageant contestant?

I’ve had extensive exposure over the years to both of these candidates, and I have no doubt that between the two, Sheheen is the policy heavyweight, not only in theory, but in terms of getting things done. As for the theory, here you can find video proof of his depth of understanding of issues. But while he’s the heavyweight, that’s also the way he comes across in front of a group — as heavy.

Whereas Nikki tends to dazzle. Until you stop and really analyze what she’s saying, and compare it to the reality that you know — assuming you know it, which is expecting a lot.

It took me awhile to get to that point with her — like, years. Voters aren’t going to get to that point in five debates.

Is Ervin inappropriately politicizing the horrific deaths of those five children?

That’s a question that occurred to me when I saw the Tom Ervin campaign’s release below two days ago, and I was reminded of it when I saw the campaign mention it in another release this morning:

TOM ERVIN’S PREPARED REMARKS FROM PRESS CONFERENCE AT DSS HEADQUARTERS ON THE MOST RECENT TRAGEDY

The news that five children from Lexington County have been massacred and left on the side of the road is a horrific tragedy. As a parent, I ask all South Carolinians to pray for the victims and their family. I want to thank law enforcement for their quick response to this tragedy.

20140525_0138-300x300

In cases like these, we may never have all the answers to the questions that come to mind.

However, our state Department of Social Services has an ongoing responsibility to prevent these tragedies from happening over and over again. The children under DSS scrutiny are the most vulnerable population in our state and these children can’t protect themselves.

Unfortunately, we have seen these tragedies repeat themselves over and over again. From 2011 through 2013, 251 children have died under Governor Haley’s watch. This figure does not include the children that have died in 2014.

That is simply unacceptable.

Today’s news reports are that the Department of Social Services interviewed the man accused of killing his five children and concluded he was a, “highly intelligent, responsible father capable of caring for his children.”

On August 7th, DSS was at his home to investigate allegations of child abuse.

Less than a month later, these children are found dead.

Enough is enough.

I’m here today to call on the General Assembly to return in special session with the purpose of removing control of the Department of Social Services from Gov. Haley and placing it under the authority of an independent administrator or receiver.

Governor Haley’s record of failed leadership over DSS necessitates an immediate transfer of authority and control before another child is put in harm’s way.

I’m also calling on the legislative audit council to expedite the release of their independent findings concerning DSS, so we can implement new procedures and practices immediately.

I will continue to make this my focus until we can fix DSS. This is not politics, this is about protecting our most vulnerable children.

Yeah, I know. The failures of DSS to prevent child deaths is easily the most lurid policy failure that can be laid at the feet of the incumbent. There is a policy element to this horror. But to hold press conferences about it so soon…

Maybe it’s just me. I can’t even bring myself to read past the headlines of these stories. It’s just too painful to contemplate. Maybe he’s not being tone deaf. Thoughts?

CNN’s Peter Hamby hereby dubs Bakari Sellers a kingmaker

At home, Bakari Sellers is clamoring for free ink, attacking his better-known opponent for his country club membership.

But on the national level, Peter Hamby — who I suppose got to know Rep. Sellers back when he was stationed in SC by CNN in the months before the 2008 presidential primaries — has now dubbed him a kingmaker in the 2016 contest for the White House:

Hambycast: Want to be president? Talk to this guy

Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) — It’s September of 2014, but Bakari Sellers is already getting calls and visits from the small crop of Democrats considering a 2016 presidential bid.

Few voters outside South Carolina have heard of him. But he’s a young star in the state’s Democratic party, and as a key political figure in a pivotal early primary state, Sellers could play an outsized role in electing the next President.

When Barack Obama won South Carolina’s 2008 presidential primary in blowout fashion, boosting his campaign after a devastating blow in New Hampshire, Sellers, then a 23-year old first-term state legislator, was in the crowd at his victory party, beaming.

Sellers co-chaired Obama’s campaign in the early primary state, helping the then-senator go from long-shot to history-maker after vanquishing Hillary Clinton in the heavily African-American state….

Lindsey Graham, weakest incumbent GOP senator in the nation?

Graham chart

Meant to share this yesterday. Lachlan McIntosh of the Brad Hutto campaign brought this chart to my attention, with the commentary:

According to this CBS New, York Times poll of all the US Senate races this year, Lindsey Graham is the weakest Republican incumbent in the nation. He’s getting just 42% of the vote. 

In a quick glance, that appears to be the case. Of course, what is greeted as good news by one Democratic challenger is pretty lousy news for Democrats nationally. Lots of Democrats would give anything to have Graham’s 42 percent. Look at poor Mary Landrieu, trailing at 36 percent!

Erwin touting his ‘mo’ in new poll

You know that ARG poll I mentioned yesterday? Well, Tom Ervin is very proud of the progress it shows for his campaign:

NEW POLL SHOWS THREE-WAY RACE, TOM WITH MOMENTUM 

 

Greenville, S.C. —  The Tom Ervin campaign issued the following statement in response to the poll conducted by American Research Group:

“This poll shows we have a three-way race and confirms what we are seeing on the ground: Tom’s common sense solutions are resonating with voters,” said Matt David, the campaign’s senior adviser. “Whether it’s his push for tough ethics reform in Columbia or his plan to eliminate the income tax, this momentum will continue as more people learn about Tom.”

Link to poll information:

AMERICAN RESEARCH GROUP POLL, CONDUCTED SEPT. 2 – SEPT. 4

Tom Ervin (I)                         18%

Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D)     33%

Gov. Nikki Haley (R)              43%

Steve French (Libertarian)      1%

I’ll bet that if he didn’t have something to show for all that money he spent, he’d really be bummed about now…

If reached by landline, you prefer Haley. Otherwise not…

I was intrigued by this new poll on the SC gubernatorial race. Dick Bennett of American Research Group grabbed my attention in an email in which he wrote:

While Haley leads Sheheen 53% to 28% (and 12% for Ervin) among likely voters living in households with only landline telephones, Sheheen leads Ervin 43% to 30% (with 18% for Haley) among likely voters using cell phones or other mobile devices to complete the survey.

I checked, and he didn’t mean those households with “only landline telephones” had no cellphones, the way it sounded. He had meant to say, “among those reached by landline. If a household has a landline number in the sample we purchase, it gets called.”

Still, that’s interesting — the people reached via mobile devices put the incumbent in third place. I wonder why that is?

Of course, Haley still has a strong lead in the poll overall, since only 181 respondents were reached by mobile device, and 419 interviews were done over landlines. The totals for the poll are Haley 43 percent, Sheheen 33, Ervin 18.

But I wonder what accounts for the difference between those two sets of respondents… Youth? Affinity for technology? What?

Here’s who voted to keep Adell Adams on election board

election vote

A screenshot from the minutes of the Sept. 5 meeting.

OK, now I have an answer to the burning question of who voted to keep incumbent Adell Adams on the Richland County election board. Here they are:

Here’s a link to the entire minutes, which include how everyone voted. The minutes were emailed to me this morning by Kimberly Janha, the legislative services coordinator for the delegation.

And once the strange weighted voting was fully tabulated (senators got more than representatives, and they were also weighted by the proportion of their districts in the county), here’s how the candidates fared:

  1. E. Peter Kennedy — 93.75 %
  2. Marjorie Johnson — 80.23 %
  3. Jane Dreher Emerson — 58.35 %
  4. Sylvia Holley — 56.36 %
  5. Adell Adams — 47.70 %
  6. Elaine Dubose — 41.64 %
  7. Christopher Kenney — 30.95 %
  8. Eric Mohn — 28.68 %
  9. Robert Tyson — 24.24 %
  10. William Spillane — 18.11 %
  11. Ken Gaines — 10.02 %
  12. Joanne Johnson and Pamela Sumter — 0 %

You’ll see that Ms. Adams was the only one elected with less than 50 percent — whatever that means, with this odd weighted system.

Still no word on which lawmakers voted to keep Adell Adams

Here it is the next day, and neither I nor anyone else has been able to report to you the most relevant information from yesterday’s Richland County legislative delegation meeting — specifically, which lawmakers voted for which candidates for the county election board.

So basically, I can’t report to you, as voters, the one bit of information that allows you to hold people you elect accountable for their actions.

As I mentioned yesterday in a comment, I called the number that Nathan Ballentine had given me for the delegation secretary. I was assured that the information was being compiled, and that it would be sent to me via email.

Why that would take any time at all, I don’t know. It probably has something to do with the decision by the lawmakers to use paper ballots rather than a voice vote, and to weight the votes to give senators more of a say than House members. Maybe. I don’t know.

In any case, Friday came and went, and I don’t have the information. Neither did Dawn Hinshaw:

Efforts late Friday to find out who voted for Adams were unsuccessful. Legislative members opted to cast votes on paper, rather than by voice. They also used a system giving senators’ votes more weight….

I did learn from Dawn’s story (she was there; I was not) that four lawmakers made a point of voting for no incumbents. Two were, as I reported yesterday, Reps. Nathan Ballentine and Beth Bernstein. The others voting for an entirely new broom were Rep. Mia McLeod and Sen. Joel Lourie.

Rep. Leon Howard

Rep. Leon Howard

She also reported that one representative, Leon Howard, spoke during the meeting in favor of keeping Adell Adams on the board, citing the importance of retaining “institutional knowledge.” So I guess he voted for her, but I don’t know it. And I don’t know who else did.

When I know, you’ll know.

I see that WIS quoted Todd Rutherford as also speaking in favor of institutional memory…

Also… as I keep Googling around… Eva Moore at Free Times reported that Sen. John Courson said he would vote only for nonincumbents. So that’s five.

But no one is reporting how all the delegation members voted.

Not QUITE a new start for Richland Election Commission

Well, the Richland County legislative delegation finally met today, and chose a new election commission.

That is, an almost-new election commission.

The bad news is that longtime member Adell Adams got to stay on. She was one of two incumbents seeking reelection to the commission, and she got to stay. The good news is that Elaine DuBose, the other incumbent, did get replaced, by Pete Kennedy — described as “a watchdog of the board since 2012’s debacle.”

Actually, I suppose there’s more good news in that there are three other new members: Marjorie Johnson, Sylvia Holley & Jane Emerson.

I was unable to make it to the meeting, and the question I’m burning to have the answer to is this: WHO voted to keep Adell Adams on?

All I know so far is that Nathan Ballentine didn’t vote for her:


And yesterday, Beth Bernstein told me that she did not intend to vote for any incumbents, either.

Beyond that, I don’t know.

Here’s the brief item on thestate.com, and here you can find Tweets from Dawn Hinshaw, who covered the meeting.

Ervin to participate in gubernatorial debates

This just in…

Tom Ervin Accepts Invitation to S.C. Gubernatorial Debates 

 

Greenville, S.C. — Independent Republican Tom Ervin accepts The Post and Courier’s invitation to participate in the South Carolina gubernatorial debates.

“We accept The Post and Courier’s invitation to a series of debates because we believe South Carolina voters deserve the opportunity to hear the candidates for governor discuss their vision for the state,” said Matt David, the campaign’s senior adviser. “We fully anticipate that each candidate will follow Tom’s lead and accept this invitation because rejecting this opportunity would deny voters this fundamental component of the democratic process and send the message that they have something to hide. Tom looks forward to discussing his common sense vision to repair our crumbling roads, provide every child a world class education, and implement tough ethics reform to clean-up Columbia.”

There will be two debates hosted by The Post and Courier, WCIV-TV in Charleston, WACH-TV in Columbia, WPDE-TV in Myrtle Beach and WLOS-TV/WMYA-TV in the Greenville market.

The first debate will be in the Charleston media market on Tuesday, Oct. 14 and it will focus on jobs, the economy and growth.

The second debate will be held in the Greenville/Spartanburg media market on Tuesday, Oct. 21. and it will focus on education and healthcare.

Each debate will be hosted by a panel of journalists and broadcast by the event’s media partners and live streamed online….

So that’s good news for Ervin — and good news for Vincent Sheheen, since his hopes for a win depend so heavily on Ervin doing a good job of pulling votes from Nikki Haley.

Should McMaster be expected to quit Forest Lake CC?

You may or may not have seen this:

Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Bakari Sellers asked Thursday that his Republican opponent, Henry McMaster, resign his membership at a Columbia country club that has a history of having only white members.

Sellers, who could be among the first African-Americans elected to statewide office since Reconstruction, said he made McMaster’s Forest Lake Club membership an issue because he wants to move away South Carolina from its past that includes bouts with outward racism.

“There are those who will call this a stunt. It is not,” said Sellers, a 29-year-old state representative from Denmark and son of a civil rights activist. “The truth is that this is already a campaign of contrasts, whether generational or idealistic, whether being one who believed in tomorrow or who hold steadfast to the themes of the past.”…

So is this a desperate bid for attention on the part of Rep. Sellers? Or is McMasters’ (and Kirkman Finlay’s John Courson’s) and membership in this club problematic in the 21st century?

MInd you, we’re operating without some key facts: We don’t know whether the club currently has black members. We don’t even know whether McMaster currently is a member. We know that he was in the past, and that the club was discriminatory in the past. How distant that past is, or whether, in Faulknerian terms, it is even past, remains fuzzy.

This is particularly interesting to me because — full disclosure time, for those of you who didn’t already know — I’m a member of the board of governors of the Capital City Club, which was founded specifically because other private clubs in the city did not allow, or at least did not have, black members.

After Cap City came along with its deliberate policy of seeking out members of all races and creeds, the other clubs in town were said to follow suit — although Forest Lake continued to have the reputation, fairly or not, of being slower to move on this than other clubs. (I emphasize again, I don’t know what the facts are; I just know it has had that rep. And that’s why Sellers is doing this — because of the rep.)

Finlay is quoted by The State as saying he doesn’t know whether the club has black members or not. I believe him. Although I’ll add, self-righteously, that no active member of Cap City would have to wonder about that. He or she would just have to look around, any time the club is open. The diversity is obvious.

But whether Forest Lake is exclusive or not, should that matter, in terms of Henry McMaster’s suitability for office? Is this a legitimate issue or not?

Hutto camp encouraged by Jimmy Williams’ assessment

Lachlan McIntosh over at Brad Hutto’s Senate campaign made sure today that I saw this piece by Jimmy Williams:

In head-to-head matchups against his three opponents Graham can’t hit 50%. In most of the polls, he isn’t close, averaging about 45%. Bottom line: people know Lindsey Graham and they’ve made their minds up about him.

Like most incumbents, Lindsey Graham has very little room to grow and will likely not move much in the polling. Independent-conservative Thomas Ravenel, of Southern Charm fame, and Libertarian Victor Kocher are combining for near 15% in these polls. I have to assume nearly all of it is coming from Graham. Ravenel will likely spend millions of his own daddy’s money to help seal Lindsey’s fate. And so in the end, Ravenel and Kocher give very conservative voters a place to go other than Graham, whom they despise for his positions and votes on immigration reform and global warming and for his votes in support of Obama’s judicial nominees.

In recent history, Democrats in South Carolina normally end up somewhere in the mid 40’s on election night. In Obama’s two elections down in my home state, he finished with 45% and 44% here. In 2010, state Senator Vincent Sheheen received 47% in his bid for governor. The Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor got 45% and Matthew Richardson who was running for Attorney General ended up with 44%. In 2008, the guy who ran as a Democrat against Lindsey Graham and didn’t spend any money got 42% of the vote. And no, I have no clue who the hell he was….

That math is pretty similar to the scenario that Lachlan painted for me not long ago. But note that ominous bit at the end of that excerpt, about not remembering who the Democratic nominee even WAS in 2008 (I had to look it up myself; his name was Bob Conley).

Brad Hutto isn’t in quite as bad a position as that, in terms of name recognition, but he has a ways to go to be competitive, as Williams notes:

Despite being well known in the bubble of the state legislature, Hutto isn’t well known with most voters. For now, he’s showing up in the mid to lower 30’s in the polling. But most of the undecided voters are Democrats and Independents. Assuming Hutto can raise enough money to make a decent TV buy later in the fall, he’ll end up in the mid 40’s – right there with Lindsey Graham….

The Hutto campaign is betting they can raise that money and make that buy and hit the mid-40s. We’ll see…

The ad below shows the message Sen. Hutto will be trying to get out.

Good news: It’s not the economy. Bad news: It’s not foreign affairs, either…

Last week, the WSJ’s Daniel Henninger wrote a column that, from my perspective, was expressive of wishful thinking.

At one point, he wrote, “The world has reframed the politics of the 2016 election.”

A bit later, he said, “In a foreign-policy election, as it looks like we are going to have in 2016…”

Oh, if only it were so, Daniel.

Reason would dictate that we would have such an election. To begin with, all presidential elections should be foreign-policy elections, since that’s the most critical part of the job of POTUS.

But with what’s happening now in Ukraine, Gaza, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan and so on, there should be no question at all — a rational electorate would want first and foremost to know how a prospective president would lead us in dealing with the rest of the world.

But it doesn’t work that way, does it?

Still, my heart beat a bit faster when I saw this headline on my NPR app this morning: “It Might Sound Stupid, But Maybe It Isn’t The Economy This Time.”

But then I read on. Turns out that the world out there still doesn’t make the cut:

The economy is not the No. 1 issue?

That’s right. Gallup pollsters asked voters what was important, and the No. 1 topic turned out to be dissatisfaction with politicians. No. 2 was immigration. The economy had slipped to No. 3….

“Foreign policy/Foreign aid/Focus overseas” came in sixth.

And even the economy’s third-place status was rather artificial. Yes, “Economy in general” came in third, but “Jobs/unemployment” came in fourth. And if you combine the two, which would make more sense, they’re easily in first place.

And don’t get all overexcited and think that because “immigration” came in second, the public is all worried about the horrific conditions in Central America. No such luck.

If I had responded to that poll, and the question had been open-ended, I might have said, “dissatisfaction with voters…”

Graham gives Rubio a big pat on the head in SC

I sort of missed this event up in Anderson yesterday, but U.S. News and World Report was there:

Lindsey Graham Calls Marco Rubio ‘Son of Ronald Reagan’

South Carolina’s senior senator offers high praise of his colleague.

ANDERSON, S.C. – Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., “the son of Ronald Reagan when it comes to national security” Monday night at a barbecue gathering of nearly 1,000 conservatives in the upstate.

South Carolina’s senior senator also dubbed Rubio “a rising young star” in the GOP “who you will see a lot,” a nod to his colleague’s White House aspirations in 2016.

The high praise comes from one of the Senate’s biggest foreign policy hawks at a time when the country is confronting how to deal with the unraveling violence and chaos in Iraq being caused by the radical Islamic State….

Not to mention, it comes as certain Republican stars are championing isolationism.

I don’t know whether this is just Lindsey being polite to the visiting fireman, or maybe he’s getting on the Rubio bandwagon. This bears watching.

When you think about it, who is coming along in the next generation to carry the national security torch in the GOP? Also, I suppose Graham and McCain appreciate the help they got from young Master Rubio on the ill-fated immigration bill — which frankly was the first time I took favorable notice of him.

STILL no victims of Department of Revenue breach

When an alert reader brought this to my attention, I thought that maybe I’d been wrong about no one yet being harmed by the huge SC Department of Revenue security breach. In other words, maybe Vincent Sheheen was in “luck,” in that there was a rich vein of wronged taxpayers out there ready to channel resentment at Nikki Haley:

Calls pour in to ID theft unit

South Carolina’s tax agency hacked in October 2013

By Tim Smith

Staff writer tcsmith@greenvillenews.com 

COLUMBIA — The incidents are an all too familiar and scary part of modern life: a monthly statement shows someone has been fraudulently using your credit card; a store where you’ve never shopped sends you a notice demanding repayment of charges you’ve never made; a laptop be­longing to a government agency with your personal data has been stolen.

Two years after a hacker broke into South Carolina’s tax agency and took data belonging to 3.6 million taxpayers, the in­cidence and threats of identity theft are so pervasive that a four-person state unit reg­ularly handles calls about the subject.

In fact, since October 2013, when the identity theft unit for the state Depart­ment of Consumer Affairs began operat­ing, more than 3,300 people have called to talk about identity theft or some type of scam, some of which are attempts at iden­tity theft, said Juliana Harris, a spokes­woman for the agency. “I definitely know that calls are up,”she said….

But then, I got to this line, way, way down in the story (the 27th graf; not many news stories these days even have 27 paragraphs):

After the Department of Revenue breach, she said she stayed on the phone constantly all day, with every one of her lines lit up. She said she might have talked to 100 people per day following the revenue department hacking.

No one has come forward since the breach saying it has caused their identity to be stolen, she said. 

So. We have yet to see our first victim of the huge hack at DoR. I mean, we’re pretty much all of us “victims” in that our data were stolen. But who has been harmed by that yet?

By the way, you might want to read Cindi Scoppe’s column today on how Sheheen is emphasizing the wrong things in his criticisms of the incumbent — but also how he has little choice, since the right things are so hard to explain…

One thing education does not need is political parties

I’m hoping this quote from Bruce Smith’s story about the state education superintendent candidate debate in Myrtle Beach Sunday was just out of context:

“Party matters” in public education said Democrat Tom Thompson, a former dean of graduate studies at South Carolina State University who bested three other Democrats in the primary.

“You can have the state superintendent of education say one thing but the party behind that person has to be consistent with what the state superintendent says,” he added, in a comment directed at Republicans, some of whom favor taxpayer vouchers for private school students….

The problem, you see, is not having officials who are Republicans. The problem is having officials who want to take money from public schools and pay them to parents for withdrawing their kids from public schools. Doesn’t matter to me whether the people wanting to do that Republicans, Democrats (and sometimes they are) or Zoroastrians. The idea is the problem, not the letter after the name.

The problem with Mick Zais isn’t that he’s a Republican. He could have been a Republican and been just fine. The problem is that he so firmly embraces bumper-sticker ideology. Which frankly was a shock to me. I expect retired military officers to be above that nonsense. I expect them to be pragmatists. So Zais was a surprise to me.

And I liked what Molly Spearman said right after that in the story:

Spearman, meanwhile, said the way to improve education is for people to work together.

“The job and our efforts are too important for us to squabble and not get along,” she said. “I have worked hard over my career never to burn bridges.”…

And adhering closely to a party line, to the exclusion of other ideas, is one sure way to burn bridges. In fact, that’s sort of what it’s for.

There was one thing in that party from which I can draw some comfort: The first candidate quoted was American Party candidate Ed Murray. Not that I can support the American Party, either, but I applaud the fact that Jim Rex and Oscar Lovelace are at least trying to promote a Third Way in South Carolina. And the attempt is drawing some positive attention, it seems…

Little-noticed fact: Sheheen has had a stellar legislative year

I don’t disagree with any of the “experts” who say Nikki Haley is the favorite to win the gubernatorial election this year.

But I do take exception to this observation:

The panelists stopped short of criticizing Sheheen, whom Winthrop University political science professor Scott Huffmon called “a great candidate” because he came so close to knocking off Haley last time. But when asked by Bierbauer what Sheheen has done in the past four years to strengthen himself as a candidate, they mostly kept silent….

That silence suggests something that we frequently hear here, particularly from Doug: That Sheheen hasn’t been a leader in his job as state senator.

Sheheen has done little to  tout his successes as a lawmaker.

Sheheen has done little to tout his successes as a lawmaker.

Actually, in terms of being a guy who gets things done in the Legislature, Sheheen has done quite a lot.

In the past year, significant progress was made on two things that Sheheen has been pushing vocally and visibly: The elimination of the Budget and Control Board and 4k expansion.

Argue how much of that was Sheheen if you’d like. For instance, his opponent had identified herself strongly with the restructuring initiative. But the fact is that Sheheen was pushing this bill, and working on his colleagues to promote it, since well before Nikki Haley ever decided to run for governor. (Which is kind of how long it takes for a good idea to seep into the heads of a majority of lawmakers.)

Those aren’t his only accomplishments. He was a significant player in the ban on texting-while-driving. The first two are much more impressive to me, however, as reflecting the kinds of strategic, fundamental changes that we need for South Carolina to progress.

What puzzles me is that we don’t see Sheheen touting these successes as a reason to vote for him. Instead, we see money and effort wasted on repeated attempts to get folks angry at the incumbent about the Department of Revenue hacking.

I don’t know why…

New Sheheen ad: Another attempt to get us stirred up about hacking scandal

Above is the latest Sheheen TV ad.

Here’s a release that elaborates upon it, contrasting the promptness with which credit card companies tell us when there’s been a breach, versus the two weeks it took Gov. Haley to let anyone know about the huge Department of Revenue breach.

The Sheheen campaign keeps plugging away at this, But I doubt it will catch fire with the public until someone, somewhere has actually been harmed by the hacking, and we hear about it…