Category Archives: Elections

College of Charleston play flap draws national attention

Washpost

At this moment, the centerpiece story at the WashPost site is this one:

CHARLESTON, S.C. — More than 750 people packed into a city auditorium here this week for a sold-out production of “Fun Home,” a musical by a New York-based troupe about a woman coming to terms with her closeted gay father’s suicide. The crowd rose in a standing ovation before the show even began.

The emotional reaction was part of a worsening political battle between South Carolina’s public universities and conservative Republican lawmakers, who argue that campus culture should reflect the socially conservative views of the state.

The state’s House of Representatives recently voted to cut $52,000 in funding for the College of Charleston as punishment for assigning students to read “Fun Home,” the graphic novel that formed the basis for the play. House lawmakers endorsed a similar budget cut for the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg for using a different book with gay themes in its reading program.

Republican lawmakers also helped pave the way for the appointment of a controversial GOP state official as the College of Charleston’s next president, sparking campus protests.

The fights serve as a reminder that rapid national shifts on social issues — particularly gay rights — are hardly universal and remain hotly contested across much of the Deep South. The views of people in South Carolina carry particular weight given the state’s early presidential primary, which gives voters here the power to help shape the GOP ticket every four years….

You had probably heard about most of this. I hadn’t heard about the play angle.

It seems like WashPost regards this as a pretty big deal, on account of our early primary. I hadn’t thought of it that way until now.

Remember how, early in 2012, I worried about the way Kulturkampf issues were being used to divide us in that election? Here we go again, y’all — two years early…

OK, tell me again how direct, popular election of POTUS would make candidates more interested in SC

The queue at my polling place, November 2008.

The queue at my polling place, November 2008.

I’m directing my question at Bud and others who believe we should abandon the electoral college and choose the president directly, by popular vote.

I read this piece yesterday in The Slatest that tells of another movement to bring that about, or as Slate says in its headline with its usual sober impartiality and self-restraint, “U.S. Takes Small Step Toward Having System of Electing Its President That Actually Makes Sense:”

The best case for passing the law might be this map from the National Popular Vote group, which shows how many 2012 presidential campaign events were held in each state between the party conventions and the election:

screen_shot_20140416_at_3.25.59_pmNational Popular Vote

You’ll notice that the majority of states never saw Romney or Obama at all, because their electoral votes were already foregone conclusions. And when a president can get elected by basically ignoring the specific needs and interests of most of the states in the country, that is, like, pretty messed up.

So here’s, like, my question: How would this make candidates want to spend more time in SC?

I mean, I get why Democrats would like it personally, because it means that their votes would actually count in the general election for the first time in a generation.

But would candidates actually be much more interested in coming here during those few weeks between the conventions and Election Day? When it’s all about the national total, wouldn’t they concentrate most on the heaviest concentrations of population — the Northeast, California, Florida?

Sure, every vote they got here would matter, would count toward the total, whereas now Democrats know there’s no point in trying to win here, and Republicans take us for granted. So time here wouldn’t be wasted from the candidates’ point of view, but would it really be the best use of their time? And wouldn’t they prefer to spend their extensive, but finite, media dollars in New York and Chicago than Columbia? (Or would they only buy national media? I’m not sure what would be more cost-effective for them.)

Maybe the answer is obvious, and my head’s just so full of antihistamines today that I’m not seeing it. So help me out.

 

Sheheen’s plan for DSS

Vincent Sheheen and the Democrats have been slinging stones at the governor over the problems in DSS, as you may have noticed.

In this release this morning, Sheheen shifts to saying what he would do differently:

Sheheen Releases Plan of Action for Children & Families

Gubernatorial candidate lays out plan to address problems at DSS that have led to children dying and being kept in danger in order to lower the agency’s numbers

Camden, SC. – Today, Sen. Vincent Sheheen released his plan of action for children and families in South Carolina to address the crisis at the Department of Social Services (DSS). The plan lays out a course of action to prevent any more children from dying or being put in danger as a result of misplaced priorities, arbitrary quotas, and failed leadership at DSS.

Sen. Sheheen’s plan to protect children includes immediate steps that he will begin work on in the State Senate, and actions he would take as Governor of South Carolina.

In the coming weeks, he will introduce legislation in the Senate to institute whistleblower protections for social workers, sponsor legislation to have coroners send child fatality cases to state law enforcement, and fight for adequate funding to support staff and increase training at DSS during the budget debate. As governor, he will re-focus priorities on child safety, and start by appointing a competent department head who will be transparent and accountable.

This plan of action comes on the heels of Sen. Sheheen’s series of roundtable discussions with women around the state, where voters repeatedly raised the problems at DSS as major concerns and were frustrated with the lack of leadership from the governor’s office on this issue.

View Sen. Sheheen’s plan of action for children and families as well as his other ideas for how to improve leadership and accountability in South Carolina at www.vincentsheheen.com. His book, “The Right Way: Getting the Palmetto State Back on Track” is free and also available online, here.

Leadership for South Carolina’s Children & Families

Right now too many children across South Carolina are growing up without loving homes, and what’s worse – they are being abandoned by the state when they are most in need. Shuttled between foster homes, placed with relatives ill-equipped to handle the challenges of parenting, or sent back to an abusive home without support system to protect them, our state is doing wrong by these children. Why? Because of misplaced priorities and failed leadership at the Department of Social Services under the Haley administration.

Over the past several months, investigations have turned up disturbing reports: Children are dying and being left in dangerous situations as a result of incompetence at the Department of Social Services and the push to lower the agency’s numbers. Children who should be protected after multiple reports of abuse are being ignored and moved out of the system in order to make numbers in a government report look better.

As a prosecutor, Vincent saw what families and victims went through as the result of abuse or crimes and fought to hold abusers accountable. In his private practice he’s seen it even further in the fight to protect children and mothers from abuse. And as the father of three boys in South Carolina, the thought that even one child could be killed as the result of government dysfunction and incompetence is unbearable.

Our state’s children need decisive leadership from the top of state government through the ranks of our state agencies to ensure that child safety is our top priority. The people of South Carolina deserve real accountability from their governor. They deserve a leader who won’t defend a failed appointee who has allowed children to die and be kept in danger in order to meet artificial quotas. It’s time to act.

Vincent’s plan of action:

Re-Focus on Child Safety

  • Double the size of SLED Special Victims Unit, which investigates child fatalities.
  • Ensure that allegations of abuse and neglect are investigated by DSS within 24 hours.
  • Improve & increase training for DSS staff to ensure cases aren’t being ignored
  • Expand services and programs for children in foster care: support mentoring programs for children aging out of foster care and transitional housing options for young adults.
  • Build support for in-state adoptions through public service announcements, partnerships with non-profits to increase community awareness.

Increase Accountability

  • Institute whistleblower protections for social workers at DSS.
  • Appoint a qualified leader to head DSS, who will increase transparency and prioritize child safety.
  • Require a full audit of DSS to get the real numbers of children and families in need, and the actual caseload statistics at DSS.
  • Treat cases being handed off to consultants or partner organizations as open cases at DSS and set benchmarks for checking in on progress.
  • Increase consistency in law so that coroners are sending child fatality cases to SLED.
  • Utilize public-private partnerships so that when services can be better provided by a non-profit or faith-based entity, they are allowed to partner with the government to do so.
  • Improve training and resources for foster and adoptive parents to keep kids placed in safe and loving homes.

View this document online, here.

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Bright blesses Graham’s heart — I’m glad Southern courtliness still survives to that extent

bless heart

Had to smile at the latest release from Lee Bright. As nasty as things get in politics these days, it’s nice to see that even a Tea Party guy (and you know how angry they can be) can express himself with civility, Southern style.

Yes, it’s a condescending expression, but it’s a sweet condescending expression. And that counts for something.

As for the content of the release — well, I didn’t read it. I saw it was another of those “Obamacare, yadda-yadda” things that those folks are forever churning out…

Jeb Bush, GOP Establishment Man

I missed coverage of this over the weekend, but learned about it via a WSJ column this morning.

Jeb Bush really poked the Tea Party interlopers (you know, the ones who call real Republicans RINOs) in the eye. He called illegal immigration, at least in some circumstances, “an act of love.” The Fix quoted at greater length:

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Photo by Gage Skidmore

There are means by which we can control our border better than we have. And there should be penalties for breaking the law. But the way I look at this — and I’m going to say this, and it’ll be on tape and so be it. The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn’t come legally, they come to our country because their families — the dad who loved their children — was worried that their children didn’t have food on the table. And they wanted to make sure their family was intact, and they crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family. Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families.

He’s also going after the folks who are so worked up about Common Core:

He said those who oppose the standards support the “status quo,” oppose testing and are worried too much about children’s self-esteem.

“Let me tell you something. In Asia today, they don’t care about children’s self esteem. They care about math, whether they can read – in English – whether they understand why science is important, whether they have the grit and determination to be successful,” Bush said.

“You tell me which society is going to be the winner in this 21st Century: The one that worries about how they feel, or the one that worries about making sure the next generation has the capacity to eat everybody’s lunch?”

See what he did there? He defined the Common Core opponents as touchy-feely types worried about self-esteem — one of those qualities conservatives traditionally despise in liberals.

I like this approach. If he runs, he’ll be offering his party a clear choice between spinning off into the fringes (or at least into a demographic dead end), or remaining a party that can muster majorities across the nation. He seems to think there are enough real Republicans left for the party to choose the latter.

Sheheen’s new campaign video: “Failing”

Here’s the TV ad released by the Sheheen campaign today.

Thoughts? My own first reaction is that it looks like Nikki Haley is the incumbent superintendent of education rather than governor. There’s no explanation for why the governor should be held accountable for the performance of schools.

It also seems kind of weird and backwards. Don’t people of Nikki Haley’s wing of the GOP usually bemoan the state of public schools, while SC Democrats stick up for public educators doing the best they can with what they’ve got? I mean, wouldn’t Nikki’s natural reaction be, “Yes, and this is why we need tuition tax credits?” Or another of those old SCRG talking points.

I’m not sure what sort of train of thought this is meant to invoke, beyond “Nikki Haley — bad.” But maybe you see something else…

ALL of Richland Election Commission should be replaced

This morning, when I read that there was the potential for every member of the Richland County election commission to be replaced, I wrote on Twitter, “And all five SHOULD be replaced.”

Rep. Nathan Ballentine both favorited and reTweeted my post, so I know I have at least one member of the delegation agreeing with me.

This afternoon, when I got back into town from a business trip to Greenwood, I got a call from a friend, a local businessman who is at the point of retirement, who said he was interested in serving if the delegation was interested in having him. He’s a man who has had a certain success in business, and has been very active in the community. He has no political interests or ambition, and doesn’t want to start playing political games at this stage in life. He’s just concerned about this problem in his community, and is willing to pitch in and help if anyone thinks he can.

In other words, he’s just the kind of person we need serving on the commission.

I called James Smith and asked what the procedure was. I was told he should call the delegation office and get a form to fill out. I passed on the information.

There are at this point about 40 names in the hopper. Here’s hoping that out of the 40, plus the additional ones that will come in now that they’re starting a new filing period, the delegation will find five people willing and able to fix this problem. And that the delegation will actually choose those five…

The new ‘American Party’s’ slate of candidates for 2014

I talked with Oscar Lovelace over the weekend, and he was pretty pumped that the new party he and Jim Rex have started is now fielding its first candidates. Here’s a release about that that the American Party sent out this afternoon:

The American Party is proud and excited to introduce our four candidates for office this year!

 

Jill Bossi - candidate for U.S. Senate (Tim Scott’s unexpired term seat).
Ed Murray - candidate for Superintendent of Education.
Emile DeFelice - candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture.
Donna McGreevy - candidate for State House (District 74 – Columbia).

 

These four outstanding candidates will carry the American Party’s banner into the November General Election.

 

We would like to introduce them over the next few days beginning with Jill Bossi….

JILL BOSSI ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY

 FOR U.S. SENATE

American Party candidate seeks to end political gridlock  

 

 

(Tega Cay, SC)…Saying “enough is enough, it’s time to put an end to the political extremism and gridlock in Washington”, Jill Bossi today announced her candidacy for the United States Senate.

 

Bossi, who served as the former Vice President of the American Red Cross, has never run for office and is seeking the Senate seat now held by Tim Scott who was appointed to that position early last year.jill bossi logo composite

 

“The politicians in Washington haven’t passed a budget for our country in over six years and they haven’t provided a balanced budget since 2001. This is not the way to run a business or a family…let alone a country. Something has to change”, said Bossi.

 

Bossi chose to run as an American Party candidate because she believes in the Party’s core principles; Putting an end to career politicians by passing term limits; Governing more from the center instead of the political extremes; Holding elected officials accountable to higher ethical standards and greater transparency; And increasing the economic global competitiveness of our state and nation.

 

“Many have forgotten that our Founding Fathers created a government ‘Of the people, by the people, and for the people’. I want to end the stalemate and make government work again for our country. By putting ‘America First’ over party and politics, we can begin solving problems instead of creating them”, said Bossi.

 

Bossi also said her priorities include…focusing on finding smarter solutions to jump start our economy and putting Americans back to work, passing comprehensive tax reform for individuals and companies by simplifying the tax code, and making healthcare more affordable without invasive government regulations. 

 

As the former Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer for The American Red Cross. Mrs. Bossi was responsible for managing all Supply Chain and Travel related services for the organization. While at The American Red Cross, Mrs. Bossi redesigned the supply chain, implemented new policies and procedures, streamlined the purchase of goods and services by the organization across the Red Cross’ entire footprint in the United States and its seven territories. These changes resulted in millions of dollars in savings for the Red Cross; enabling better stewardship of donor dollars.

 

Prior to her work for the Red Cross, Mrs. Bossi was the Senior Vice President and Sourcing Executive for Global Commercial Banking and Global Wealth Management at Bank of America. While at Bank of America Mrs. Bossi was instrumental in the redesign of the entire supply chain management function for the Bank.

 

During her career, Mrs. Bossi has also served as Vice President of Strategic Sourcing for Experian North America, one of the three largest credit-reporting agencies in the U.S., as Director of G&A Procurement for Verizon Wireless. Mrs. Bossi has held senior supply management roles with companies as diverse as Packard Bell NEC, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Lorimar Studios and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios. She holds a BS in Business Management and has been published in many supply chain journals and publications.

 

Jill and her husband Richard have been married for 16 years, live in Tega Cay, SC and together they have four children and four grandchildren. Jill attends Grace Presbyterian Church in Fort Mill.

 

 

Visit Jill’s website at: www.bossi4senate.com.

So congratulations to the new party. Although I’m a little disappointed that they’re not fielding candidates in the races where partisanship is most insidious. I would have liked to see them putting someone up to oppose Jim Clyburn and Joe Wilson. Those are two examples of the “safe districts” partisans draw for themselves and their friends (the Republicans who draw the districts are happy to create the super-Democratic district for Clyburn, because that enables them to draw six very safe GOP districts — that is to say, one super-black district yields six super-white ones).

Not that a challenger would have had much of a chance. It just would have been nice to see.

Oscar told me they came very close to putting up an opponent for Wilson in the 2nd, but it just didn’t happen…

I wonder why Hutto isn’t running against Scott instead of Graham?

This just in:

Brad Hutto announces run for U.S. Senate

“Washington, D.C. is broken – and it is time for new leadership in Washington, our current leaders have become part of the problem,” says Hutto

 Orangeburg lawyer and State Senator Brad Hutto announced that he has filed to run for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Lindsay Graham.  Hutto, a Democrat, represents parts of Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton, and Orangeburg counties in the state legislature.Brad Hutto

In announcing his candidacy, Hutto set his sights on Congressional gridlock. “Washington is broken, and we need someone from outside of the Beltway to help improve life for South Carolinians.  We send billions of tax dollars to D.C. every year yet we have crumbling roads, failing schools, and struggling rural communities to show for it. And both sides are to blame.”

While serving in the State Senate, Hutto received a 100% rating from the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce for his pro-business record.  In the Senate, Hutto often leads the fight to improve schools, promote renewable energy options, and protect our natural resources.  Hutto is often in the forefront of causes to insure the individual rights and liberties of all.  He is known for his commitment to children and is an active member of the South Carolina Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children.

“We need a leader in the Senate who will spend more time talking to folks in Barnwell, Bishopville, and Beaufort than appearing on Sunday morning talk shows.  I will focus on job creation with special emphasis on rural South Carolina,” said Hutto.  “We need to require our overseas allies to accept a larger role in their own security so that we can start refocusing attention on rebuilding roads and schools in our own country.”

Recent polling highlights Graham’s vulnerability, with polls consistently showing that even Republican primary voters – where he should be strongest – have reservations about his extended tenure in D.C. 

Hutto lives in Orangeburg with his wife of 28 years, Tracy, a pediatrician.  His son Skyler is a student at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law.  Hutto graduated from the Honors College at the University of South Carolina and received his law degree from Georgetown University.  Hutto, an Eagle Scout, is a Past President of the Boy Scouts’ Indian Waters Council that serves South Carolina’s midlands region, and he remains active with Scouting on many levels.

www.BradHutto.com

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My first thought in reading the headline was, OK, so maybe Tim Scott will have some opposition in the general.

Then I saw that he’s running for Graham’s seat. Which doesn’t make sense. He cites this as his reasoning:

Recent polling highlights Graham’s vulnerability, with polls consistently showing that even Republican primary voters – where he should be strongest – have reservations about his extended tenure in D.C.

Which is just kind of inside-out partisan thinking. Yes, Hutto is one of the more enthusiastic partisans on the Democratic side in the Legislature. But it really takes a particularly simplistic, dualistic view of the politcal world to say, “even Republicans… have reservations” about Graham. “Even” Republicans? Republicans are the people Graham has trouble with. Not Democrats, particularly. Certainly not independents. Assuming Graham can secure his renomination — and he most likely will, after some discomfort — he’s going to blow past anyone who opposes him in the general as though that hapless individual is standing still.

Is this not obvious to everyone?

Why is everybody and his brother lining up to run against Graham — “even” Democrats? While Scott gets a relative free ride, in terms of not having anyone opposing him likely to make him break a sweat.

It’s weird…

That’s not the first example I think of, Henry

I was just now looking back at the press release from yesterday announcing Henry McMaster’s entry into the contest for lieutenant governor:

McMaster Files for Lt. Gov.
For Immediate Release                                                                           March 27, 2014
Contact:  Adam Fogle @ 803-394-3006
 
COLUMBIA, SC — Former S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster officially filed Thursday as a Republican candidate for Lt. Governor.  In an online video announcement McMaster said, “For this job, experience really does matter.”
 
In addition to serving eight years as Attorney General, McMaster gained national attention when President Ronald Reagan chose him as his first U.S. Attorney.  In that job, McMaster led a crackdown on corruption and drug trafficking.  He later became State Republican Party Chairman and led the SCGOP through a period of historic growth.
 
With a strong record in both the public and private sectors, McMaster said he brings to the race “a unique mix of experience and proven results.”  In announcing his decision to offer as a candidate for Lt. Governor, McMaster issued the following statement:
 

Experience Matters

“The next four years will be critical to our state’s political, economic and cultural future.  I love South Carolina and I want to help create a future of progress and prosperity.
 
“As Lt. Governor, I plan to be a strong voice for conservative reform in State government.  I’ll be ready on day one to preside over the work of the State Senate.  It takes experience in State government and knowledge of the law to do a good job.
 
“After four years of Barack Obama, I think we’ve learned that on-the-job-training is not always a good idea.  For the job of Lt. Governor, qualifications really matter.
 
“I’m also ready to address the growing challenges faced by our state’s seniors and adults with disabilities.  At the present rate, South Carolina’s senior population will double by the year 2030.
 
“I’ve discussed this issue in detail with my friend Glenn McConnell, our current Lt. Governor.  He is making wonderful progress in developing plans and strategies to deal with the aging crisis.  And I am prepared to follow in his footsteps.
 
“Finally, I’m ready to work with Governor Haley and the conservative leaders of the State Legislature to protect taxpayers, grow our economy, create new jobs and build a tomorrow we can all be proud of.
 
“That’s why I’m running as a conservative Republican for Lt. Governor and I ask for your support.”
 
The Republican Primary will be held Tuesday, June 10.  Learn more about Henry McMaster atHenryMcMaster.com.  View the entire video announcement on YouTube.
-30-

Did you catch that non sequitur about the president? “After four years of Barack Obama…” (On his website, by the way, he says somewhat more accurately, “After nearly six years of Barack Obama…)

As criticism of POTUS goes, of course, that’s fairly mild stuff. His inexperience was one of the things that kept me in the John McCain camp in our 2008 endorsement. So, fair observation there.

But hey — what does it have to do with running for lieutenant governor? You’d think he’d compare himself to his opponents for the nomination, not to Republicans’ favorite national whipping boy. (Yeah, I know how this plays in the GOP base. But I have to wonder: Doesn’t anyone in that base ever go, “Hey, wait a minute. What does this have to do with Obama?”)

Here we go again, y’all. I thought Henry was easily the best of the GOP field for governor last time around. But one thing kept me from feeling good about his candidacy: His over-the-top — I mean, “over-the-top” by the standards of reasonable folk; not “over-the-top” by, say, Tea Party standards — attempts to nationalize the campaign. Remember the ad in which he promised to protect us from Obama and his Washington “vultures”?

Speaking of Tea Party standards…

If he were really concerned about on-the-job training, don’t you think the first politician who would come to mind would be someone closer to home — say, our governor, who had three terms as a House backbencher and no known managerial experience before becoming our chief executive?

But Henry would never do that. Henry has been remarkably loyal in his support of the governor ever since she beat him for the nomination in 2010. The State today talked about how Henry is one of three candidates for Gov Lite who have “ties” to the governor. But Henry is the one she owes, the one who has swallowed every ounce of pride to be her cheerleader, and give her countenance among business types and party regulars.

Sheheen is officially running

This release came in a few minutes ago:

Sheheen files for office, pledges leadership and accountability for South Carolina
Columbia, SC – Today Sen. Vincent Sheheen officially filed to run for Governor of South Carolina in 2014, pledging to bring honest leadership and real accountability to the governor’s office and work across the aisle to deliver results for the people of South Carolina.
“We need honest leadership and real accountability to improve public education, grow our economy from within, and rebuild our roads and bridges to create a better future for South Carolina,” said Sen. Sheheen. “More importantly, we need leaders who will work with both parties to get things done, but aren’t afraid to stand up to either party to do what’s right. That’s the experience and vision we’re bringing to the people of South Carolina so that, together, we can change the way this state does business once and for all.”
Sen. Sheheen announced his intention to run in for governor again last April and has since traveled around the state meeting with small business owners, teachers, women and hardworking families to listen to the challenges they face and discuss his vision for a brighter future for South Carolina.
“Under Nikki Haley, there’s been no accountability, no results – just failures of leadership and incompetence,” Sheheen continued. “The people of South Carolina deserve a government that works and works for them. And when government doesn’t, they don’t need excuses, they deserve action and results. It’s time for new leadership.”
In the past three years, South Carolina’s families have been repeatedly hurt and exposed to threats because of the incompetence of Nikki Haley and her administration:
  • hacking at the Dept of Revenue allowed 3.5 million people’s Social Security number to be stolen, Nikki Haley covered it up for 16 days.
  • TB outbreak at a public school that Nikki Haley’s administration covered up for two months, refusing to tell parents that their kids were being exposed to tuberculosis everyday at school.
  • children dying and being repeatedly put at risk because of the Haley administration’s focus on getting their numbers down at the Dept of Social Services left at risk kids in abusive homes and dangerous situations.
  • hardworking families are struggling and the economy continues to lag with falling wages, declining average income, and a staggering drop in the workforce as people give up looking for work.
  • small businesses are stuck at the back of the line as Nikki Haley’s focus on only recruiting big out-of-state businesses stacks the deck against them and forces them to pay the highest commercial property taxes in the country.
  • South Carolina remains first in the nation for women killed by men while Nikki Haley vetoed fining for rape crisis centers. And women have an especially hard time achieving economic success, as South Carolina makes no effort at achieving equal pay for equal work.
“The test of leadership is not how you act when things go right, it’s how you act when things go wrong,” said Sen Sheheen “South Carolina deserves a leader who will be honest with people, take responsibility for failures, and demand accountability from their administration to deliver results from people of South Carolina. It’s time to end the cover-ups and excuses, and instead present a vision for the future and work to bring people together to achieve results. That’s how I have always worked, and it’s a belief and work ethic I will bring to the Governor’s office.”
Senator Sheheen laid out his vision for a more prosperous future for South Carolina based on honest leadership and real accountability:
  • universal, voluntary 4-year-old kindergarten to increase access to public education and get the most bang for the buck
  • improve learning by treating teachers like professionals, and raising teacher pay to the national average to attract and keep quality teachers in the classroom
  • build South Carolina’s economy from within by focusing on small businesses and supporting them just as much as businesses recruited from out of state.
  • restore South Carolina’s roads and bridges to improve safety for families and build infrastructure for businesses to get the state economy moving.
  • appoint competent leaders and demand accountability when things go wrong.
Vincent Sheheen ran against Gov. Haley in 2010, in one of the closest gubernatorial races in the country, narrowly losing by just 4.5 points in a wave year for Republicans. The most recent statewide polling shows Nikki Haley’s approval numbers stuck in the low 40s and the 2014 match-up between Haley and Sheheen as a dead heat.
Read more about his ideas for South Carolina at www.vincentsheheen.com and in his book, The Right Way: Getting the Palmetto State Back on Track.
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Clyburn prepares to slide easily into 12th term

Since his office decided to make a thing of it, I thought I’d share, and give Doug a chance to tee off on his term-limits thing:

James E. Clyburn Files for His 12th Term in the U.S. House of Representatives 

Columbia, SC - On Monday, March 17th, Congressman James E. Clyburn filed for his 12th term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Clyburn was first elected in 1992 and assumed office in January 1993. He currently serves in leadership as the Assistant Democratic Leader.

“I am honored to seek a 12th term in the U.S. House of Representatives in the South Carolina Sixth District. I have always sought to put principles above politics and service above self. I believe working men and women deserve a raise in the minimum wage, and Congress needs to work towards comprehensive immigration reform, and protecting everyone’s right to vote,” Congressman Jim Clyburn said. “I’m honored to serve the people of South Carolina and the Sixth Congressional District and look forward to continuing my service.

The Primary Election is on June 10, while the General Election will be held on November 4.

Website: www.clyburnforcongress.com
Twitter: ClyburnSC06

Actually, the number surprised me for a second, because I so easily remember when he wasn’t in Congress. But yeah, I guess it was the early ’90s…

And of course, since the main purpose of reapportionment in South Carolina is creating safe seats for Republicans, he will hold this seat as long as he likes. Because the way to create several safe Republican seats is to create one super-safe seat for a Democrat, and he has always been the beneficiary of that math.

Anyway, to celebrate the landmark, I thought you might enjoy watching him and Steny Hoyer doing the Electric Slide, at one of his fish fries few years back….

So are you truly, unambiguously going to support this guy?

This is a good day to be Nancy Mace or Det Bowers. Because they are the only two of the crowd of people running against Lindsey Graham in the GOP primary who did not just sign a pledge to support the guy who called the senator “ambiguously gay.”

Here’s the money quote, which caused enough of a splash that Chris Cillizza of The Fix retweeted me when I mentioned it yesterday, leading to 17 other retweets and 8 favorites:

Feliciano said, “It’s about time that South Carolina (says) hey, We’re tired of the ambiguously gay senator from South Carolina. We’re ready for a new leader to merge the Republican Party. We’re done with this. This is what it’s about, all of us coming together and saying, one way or the other, one of us is going to be on that ballot in November.”

It was said by the (formerly) most obscure of the candidates, the suddenly-famous Dave Feliciano of Spartanburg, at a presser in which he and three others — Bill Connor, Lee Bright and Richard Cash — signed a pledge promising to support any one of their number who gets into a runoff with Graham.

Dave Feliciano, in an image from his campaign website.

Dave Feliciano, in an image from his campaign website.

Put another way, Bill Connor, Lee Bright and Richard Cash just pledged to support Dave Feliciano over Lindsey Graham.

Just when you thought they couldn’t take ideology far enough…

After the presser, Connor and Cash both denounced Feliciano’s characterization of the senator, but both confirmed they would still stick to the pledge, according to The State. Bright reportedly left the event before Feliciano spoke, which shows he’s not named “Bright” for nothing.

I wrote to Bill Connor via Facebook a few minutes ago to ask him again, “would you really support this Feliciano guy over Sen. Graham?” Because I still find that hard to believe. But then, I find the attitude of the kinds of Republicans who would oppose Graham sort of hard to believe, so this is not surprising.

Sheheen didn’t say ‘War on Women,’ for which I’m grateful

For those who weary of Vincent Sheheen criticizing Nikki Haley and not making enough positive statements about what he would do as governor (and I’m kinda one of those), this release should be welcome:

Sheheen Releases Women’s Agenda, Launches Statewide Roundtable Discussions
Gubernatorial candidate lays out plan to ensure equal pay for equal work, stop violence against women, & support women-owned small businesses
Camden, SC. – Today, Sen. Vincent Sheheen released his plan of leadership for women in South Carolina, after recently launching a statewide series of roundtables to discuss the challenges that women and their families face in the Palmetto State.
Sen. Sheheen’s Women’s Agenda includes immediate steps that he will begin work on in the State Senate as well as action he would take as Governor of South Carolina to support equal pay for equal work, reduce violence against women, grow women-owned small businesses, and restore common sense and accountability to government through honest leadership.
Throughout the month of March, Sen. Sheheen is holding a series of roundtable discussions with women to discuss these policy initiatives and listen to their stories. The statewide roundtable tour kicked off in Spartanburg and Rock Hill on March 8th and will include stops in Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Greenville and Aiken over the next three weeks.
View Sen. Sheheen’s Women’s Agenda as well as his other ideas for how to improve leadership and accountability in South Carolina atwww.vincentsheheen.com. His book, “The Right Way: Getting the Palmetto State Back on Track” is free and also available online, here.
Equal Pay for Equal Work. Women are a key part of our state economy and our businesses, and whole families suffer when women do not get paid equally to men. However, wage disparity is alive and well in South Carolina. Nationally, women earn only $0.77 for every $1.00 that a man makes. There is anecdotal evident that it’s in our state it’s even worse. So it’s time for action.
Vincent’s plan of action: 
  • Call for an audit to examine the wages currently being paid to South Carolina’s state employees based on position and gender, to determine if female state employees are being compensated equally with their male counterparts for equal work
  • As governor issue an Executive Order requiring state employees to be paid equally for equal work.
  • Ensure state government sets a good example for the private sector on pay equity.
Stop Violence Against Women.  Violence against women is at an unacceptable level in South Carolina. We rank first in the nation in the number of women killed annually by men, and the rape rate in the state is higher than the national average. Yet, Nikki Haley vetoed funding for rape crisis centers and even referred to abused women as a “special interest group.” It’s time to be proactive in working to stop violence against women, and ensure that our laws are strong enough to hold abusers accountable.
Vincent’s plan of action:
  • Expand Domestic Abuse definition to include teenage relationships and protect women under 18
  • Increase penalties for those convicted of domestic abuse.
  • Protect vital funding for rape crisis centers and women’s shelters to provide safe havens for women and children.
  • Work with faith-based and non-profit organizations to improve partnership with government and amplify efforts to prevent violence against women.
Support Women-Owned Small Businesses. South Carolina is close to last in the nation with the percent of businesses owned by women. But it’s not a lack of talent. So what’s the problem? Under Nikki Haley, women face significant challenges in opening and growing their businesses, and have unique barriers to achieving the American dream here in South Carolina.
Vincent’s plan of action:
  • Support small businesses in-state as much as those we recruit from out-of-state.
  • Remove the barriers women face in starting up a business in S.C. by creating a Division of Entrepreneurship and encouraging small business investment.
  • Fully fund our state’s technical college system and streamline worker-training programs to improve women’s access to education and technical skills.
Demand Common Sense & Accountability in Government.  Women and families have been repeatedly hurt by the incompetence in government over the past four years. Nikki Haley’s administration hid a TB outbreak at a public school for two months before letting mothers know their children were being exposed. She covered up the Dept. of Revenue hacking for 16 days and put parents and their children at risk of identity theft for the rest of their lives. People deserve a government that works and works for them. And when government doesn’t, they don’t need excuses, they deserve action and results.
Vincent’s plan of action:
  • Appoint a diverse group of qualified leaders, and demand accountability from them.
  • Fully fund his Taxpayer Protection Fund to help those who suffer financial loss from the hacking.
  • Increase diversity on college boards and in leadership positions around the state to better represent women.
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And I particularly appreciate it when a Democrat gets all the way through a release like that without saying “War on Women.” It shows admirable restraint.

Scoppe on elections commission: Excellent column on why a horrendous mess is worse than you thought

Cindi Scoppe did a good job this morning of telling us why the Richland County elections mess is even worse than we thought. An excerpt:

JUST WHEN you thought the mess that is the Richland County Board of Elections and Voter Registration couldn’t get any worse — never a safe assumption when we’re dealing with the spawns of the Legislative State — we learn that the temporary stay that had allowed the unconstitutional board to keep operating was lifted. In December.

Which means … well, that’s a good question.

It should mean that former commissioner Sam Selph is not interim director of the agency, because the board that last week appointed Mr. Selph had no legal authority to act.

For that matter, it should mean that Howard Jackson still is the director, because surely a board that has been declared unconstitutional would not take personnel actions of such magnitude.

It should mean that we have returned to thestatus quo ante — with separate boards running separate offices of elections and voter registration, with new commissioners who have the knowledge and capability and integrity to make legal hiring decisions and run legitimate elections.

But clearly the latter has not happened, and there’s a little glitch that makes far from clear when it can happen or what must happen on the other fronts. Which should surprise no one…. 

Ladies and gentlemen, this is very like a complete breakdown of government, one in which functions that are fundamental to our democracy have ceased to work, and no one is clearly in a position to fix the problem. Which is what you get when you let fundamental services be provided by cockeyed legislation unconstitutionally pushed into place by that bizarre hermaphroditic creature, the county legislative delegation.

As an addendum to her column, Cindi referred us to a previous piece she did last year about this mess — explaining the Power Failure, Legislative State roots of the problem — which concluded thusly:

The Legislative State might have served its purpose in the days when slaves picked cotton for the wealthy plantation owners whose interests it was crafted to serve. It might have worked a century ago, when the textile magnates controlled our government and could depend on it to provide those limited services that they needed. Maybe it even served its purpose in the ’50s, when South Carolina still could pretty much ignore the rest of the world, and government didn’t do a lot more than educate white people and pave roads for the industrialists and planters.

It does not serve its purpose, or our purpose, or anybody’s purpose today.

When things go well, it gives us state agencies that waste money and provide inferior services because they have overlapping mandates and don’t work together or even talk to each other. It hamstrings governors’ ability to deliver on the agenda the voters elected them to implement. It diverts state legislators’ attention from fixing our state’s problems, as they busy themselves delivering patronage and fixate on parochial matters that should be handled by local governments.

And when things don’t go well …. Well, then it gives us botched elections and identity theft on a massive scale and officials who lack the legal authority to make things right.

It’s time for a change.

That piece ran in 2012. Nothing has changed.Which is no surprise to those of us who’ve been writing about these problems for more than two decades.

RGA ad reminds us that real-life national politics is WAY stupider than ‘House of Cards’

Vincent Sheheen’s campaign is lashing back at the Republican Governor’s Association ads attacking him for supporting Medicaid expansion.

It is, as the Democrat says and The Washington Post has noted, bizarre for him to be attacked for that when the chairman of the RGA, Chris Christie, supports that part of the Affordable Care Act, too. As have other Republican governors.

Note the Democrats’ spoof of the RGA ad below.

But that’s not what is most remarkable about the original ad. What is most remarkable about it is just how unbelievably stupid it is. Rather than discuss the merits of Medicaid expansion and making whatever arguments it can come up with against the idea, the ad simply says “Obamacare” over and over and over and over.

Yes, we know that that one neologism sums up the entire national Republican strategy for 2014 (even more than it did in, let’s see, 2010 and 2012). Everything else — such as the crusade against spending that was once deemed so important that it was worth destroying the full faith and credit of the national government to fight — has been shoved aside for that.

But come on, people. Make an effort to form a coherent thought here.

Anyone trying to find a logical train of thought in this ad will likely get a headache instead. It opens, for instance, with “Well first, Sheheen supported much of Obamacare. But then, he refused to support the lawsuit to stop it.” The narrator’s voice drips with irony. But in what universe would there be a “but” joining those two thoughts? Why would anyone who supported much of a thing join in a lawsuit to stop it?

After that, anyone trying to think about the ad is sufficiently thrown off balance that he hardly has the attention span left to protest that the bit about “millions of families losing their health plans” has absolutely zero to do with what Sheheen favors, that it is in fact the opposite of what he favors, since he wants to expand coverage. And since when did Medicaid expansion cost jobs? I thought it was refusing to expand Medicaid that cost jobs. Wait a second…

But the ad is over. And all you’re left with is this echo of “Obamacare, Obamacare.”

Let’s give the people who made this ad some credit. Let’s assume they’re smart enough to know that the ad doesn’t make sense, that they’re just being stunningly cynical. But they certainly believe the rest of us are stupid enough to go along.

Now, finally… I said this ad was “remarkable” for its insult to our intelligence. But that was a poor choice of words. Most political ads are more or less this stupid.

Last night, I saw the last episode of the new season of “House of Cards.” This morning, I saw this ad. And I’m struck by how much stupider real-life national politics is than what is depicted on that show. Frank Underwood and his fellow plotters may be amoral, wicked, devious and manipulative. But at least they seem to be clever about it.

It’s hard to see any sign of anything remotely like cleverness or subtlety in the way politics is actually conducted in this country — particularly on the national level. Which is why it’s so offensive to see a state election such as this one nationalized. Again.

On Haley and Sheheen on the ethics bill

This could be a moment to pause and celebrate something. Not the ethics bill that passed the state Senate yesterday (I’ll let Cindi Scoppe tell you about its inadequacies, as she did in this column and this one), but the fact that both candidates for governor are vocal in calling it inadequate:

COLUMBIA, SC — An update to S.C. ethics laws – more than a year in the making – passed the state Senate on Thursday only to be blasted by Gov. Nikki Haley and her likely Democratic challenger for governor in November, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, as not being good enough.

In particular, the two rivals faulted the proposal for not including an independent body to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by lawmakers.

“Let’s be clear, what the Senate passed tonight wasn’t ethics reform – it’s an income-disclosure bill, and while that’s a positive step forward, it’s really only a half-step,” Haley spokesman Doug Mayer said….

Unfortunately, there’s a sour note in this duet:

“Some reform is better than no reform, but this bill is pretty close to nothing,” Sheheen said, before turning his criticism toward Haley. “In order to have open and accountable government, we need full income disclosure, an independent body to investigate ethics violations, and to finally put an end to the governor’s continued misuse of the state plane and vehicles for campaign activities.”…

In defending Sheheen from criticism from our own Doug, I’ve said that a challenger needs to define what’s wrong with the incumbent, in order to give the voter reasons for replacing that incumbent.

But Doug has a point, and once again, Sheheen’s criticism of Haley is coming across as grating. I don’t know how much of it is the content, and how much of it is just a matter of this tone not being natural coming from Vincent Sheheen. This drip, drip, drip of talking points about Nikki feels like the work of consultants; it’s just not the way Vincent naturally speaks. He’s a more affable, get-along-with-people kind of guy.

It would be far better if Sheheen said something like this:

It may not always feel like it, especially when the Senate drops the ball this way on a needed reform, but we’re slowly making progress in South Carolina. Both the incumbent governor and I are taking the same position, which is that our state politicians need to be held to a higher ethical standard. When those who would lead this state are unanimous in calling for more ambitious reform, that’s progress; we’ve moved in the right direction. Now, you’ve heard me say in the past that the incumbent governor has through her own lapses helped illustrate why we need ethics reform. I stand by that, and the record stands for itself. If I thought she did everything right, I’d be voting for her instead of running against her. But today, I want to thank the governor for her leadership in trying to make sure lawmakers don’t commit such lapses in the future, and are held accountable if they do. Whatever she’s done in the past, she’s taking the right position on this now. And I will stand squarely beside her and help with the heavy lifting of trying to move us further forward, and pass real ethics reform. And if I am elected to replace her, I hope she will continue to support this effort. Because all of us who understand the problem — and I think both of us do now — need to work together to overcome the inertia of the status quo.

OK, that’s a little wordy — if I were writing a statement for him I’d tighten it up — but that’s the tone I think he should be striking…

Cumulative voting might be worth trying…

… but it’s not a complete cure to extremism in politics.

Michael Rodgers made a reference to Cindi Scoppe’s column earlier in the week advocating cumulative voting as a cure to the extremism that single-member districts tend to foster.

The problem is this: Lawmakers draw safe districts for themselves — or rather, for members of their own party. They draw them so safe that the general election becomes meaningless. The primary of the dominant party becomes the election. That puts the loudest, most passionate elements in that one party in the driver’s seat. From that point on, representatives who want to get elected are constantly kowtowing to the more extreme elements in their own party, and couldn’t care less about what moderates in their own party, or independents, and certainly not members of the opposition, want them to do.

And so we get entire bodies of elected officials — Congress being the most extreme example of the sickness — who are there not for the good of the country, but as agents of the most extreme elements in their respective parties. Instead of a deliberative process, you get a perpetual mudball fight, and government becomes dysfunctional.

(Cindi traces the problem back to the race-based districting that was the unintended consequence of the Voting Rights Act. That, too, is a problem, in that it trains representatives to think of themselves as representing only constituents of a particular race. Which can indeed lead to a type of extremism, and has done so in South Carolina. But a system in which drawing districts to protect incumbency is allowed by the courts is a broader problem. In any case, when legislators go through the process of choosing their constituents, which is what redistricting has become, they do both of those things — choose by race and by party.)

Cindi has long favored a creative solution to the problem:

The key is to return to multi-member districts — the norm before the Voting Rights Act essentially outlawed them because they shut out minority voters — but with a twist that prevents the dilution of minority voting strength while reclaiming the centrist, community-focused effect of the old multi-member districts.

Let’s take the Richland County Council for an example of how this would work. Under cumulative voting, candidates for all 11 council seats would run countywide. Voters would get 11 votes, like they did in the old multi-member districts. But they could divide the votes any way they wanted — casting one in each race, giving all 11 votes to a single candidate or doling them out in any other combination. Under a modified version called limited-transfer voting, voters would have just one vote, to cast in whichever race was most important to them. In other words, voters could work together across the county to essentially create the “district” they lived in.

It wouldn’t be practical to have statewide races for legislative seats, but we could make Richland County a four-seat Senate district, Lexington County a seven-seat House district. We could even make Richland and Lexington county an eight-seat Senate district.

These modified proportional systems have been promoted for years as a way to stop fixating on race in our elections and our government, but they also would empower all voters and give us a greater sense of ownership in our government, because elected officials wouldn’t dare to write off those they consider the partisan or racial or ideological minority in their district. The fact that county residents could vote for incumbents or challengers for any or all of the seven House seats in Lexington County means the representatives would need to appeal to all of them….

I’ve always thought the solution sounded a bit confusing. But I think it would be worth trying.

That said, cumulative voting would not solve all of our problems with extremism in SC. It would do nothing, directly, to address one of the examples Cindi cites in her column:

A Theatre de l’Absurde production starring a U.S. senator who could easily win a general election, no matter who his opponent, being seriously challenged in his party primary by obscure opponents who can most charitably be called political outliers…

Even without districts of any kind, radicalism has long been a feature of SC politics. The only cure for Lindsey Graham’s problem would be a reform that would have little chance of being enacted: Repeal the 17th Amendment, and have U.S. senators elected by the Legislatures again, as the Framers intended (House members were supposed to be elected by the people; senators were supposed to represent states, not bodies of voters). But of course, that would only work reliably after you do something to make the Legislature more moderate — something like what Cindi suggests.

Joe Biden apparently can’t think of Hillary Clinton’s name

… because, you know, that’s the one reason most of us can think of for Joe not to run.

Anyway, watch the video, in which he tells CNN’s Kate Bolduan why “there’s no obvious reason for me why I think I should not run” for the top job in 2016.

Personally, I’d like to see Joe run, and not just because he’s fun. But, if you’ll excuse a locution even more convoluted than the Veep’s, I’m certainly not at a loss for coming up with a reason why he would decide not to.

Good for Jean Toal, and good for SC for having such a choice

I’m pleased to congratulate Jean Toal on her re-election as chief justice of South Carolina.

And I congratulate South Carolina, because it has just renewed its lease on one of the finest legal minds I’ve encountered in my time in my decades of observing the public sphere in my home state.

Which is not to denigrate Costa Pleicones, who mounted such a creditable challenge to her bid for re-election. He would have been, and still may one day be, a fine chief justice. In the meantime, we are fortunate to have his continued service as an associate justice. Based on everything I’ve ever seen or heard, he would have been my first choice to head the court if we could no longer have Jean Toal in that post.

This way, we don’t have to be deprived on any count. We continue to have the service of two people who are superbly suited to their positions.

It’s weird how this happens sometimes in South Carolina. Too often, elections are about choosing the lesser of two weevils, as Jack Aubrey would have said had he ever actually existed.

But from time to time, we’re offered a choice between two candidates so strong that you hate to have to reject one — you wish we had a way of spreading that wealth around. Some legislative districts seem unfairly blessed in this way. An example of the kind of election I’m talking about was when Anton Gunn challenged Bill Cotty back in 2006. Forced to choose, we endorsed Cotty, but then I was pleased to see Gunn run again and win two years later. (And sorry to see him leave his House seat.)

I’m glad we didn’t have to turn away either of these two candidates.