When Dick Harpootlian skewered three Midlands Democrats for endorsing a Republican state senator, lots of people even this newspaper wondered if Harpootlians days as chairman of the state Democratic Party were numbered.
Consider us all wrong.
The state Democratic Partys executive committee last week voted unanimously to reprimand Richland County sheriff Leon Lott and state Sens. Darrell Jackson and Joel Lourie, both also of Richland, for endorsing Senate president pro tem John Courson, a Columbia Republican, such a rarity that it has been added to the endangered species list.
Now Harpootlian, never one to just claim victory and call it a day, actively is recruiting candidates to run against Lott, Jackson and Lourie in their next Democratic primary. Harpo already may have found a candidate to challenge Lourie: Columbia attorney Zoe Sanders, daughter of Alex Sanders, the former Democratic legislator, judge and U.S. Senate candidate.
Ive had people encouraging me to run for that seat, and, from what I can tell, the calls were inspired by Joel Louries endorsement of Courson, Zoe Sanders told Buzz. When you tell the people in your district that you are running as a Democrat, you ought to live up to that plan, and I think to say that you are now endorsing a Republican under the guise of this bipartisan phrase is somewhat Pollyanna and not exactly believable..
It is too late for Sanders to run this year the election is nine days away so the earliest Sanders could run is 2016.
Im a lot more concerned about serving in the Senate for the next four years than I am who Dick Harpootlian may recruit to run against me in 2016, said Lourie, who faces no opposition Nov. 6.
But what about getting reprimanded by the state party?
Yeah, and I got an F on (Republican Gov. Nikki Haleys) report card. So what? Lourie said.
I see your Knotts v. Shealy, and raise you Bernstein v. Brady
When Buzz heard that Katrina Shealy was running again against state Sen. Jake Knotts, R-Lexington, we had visions of six months worth of stories that would write themselves.
And, early on, they did. First, Knotts maneuvered to get Shealy and, in collateral damage, about 250 other candidates statewide removed from the ballot. Then, Shealy tried to get Knotts kicked off by accusing him of challenging an upstate Republican party official to a duel.
But since then its been quiet. (We know. Buzz is spoiled.)
Now, the race to watch is Richland Countys House District 78 contest between Republican state Rep. Joan Brady and Democrat Beth Bernstein.
Two weeks ago, Bernstein was asked at a Sierra Club forum what she would do to encourage people to save energy.
Her response? I, uh ...
Brady got it on video and has plastered it all over Facebook, turning it into a local version of the famous 3 a.m. ad by Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale in 1984, later remixed by Hillary Clinton in 2008.
Bernstein responded last week with a TV ad pointing out that Brady had co-sponsored a Fair Tax bill last year, which, Bernstein said, would have added sales taxes to groceries and prescription drugs.
In an e-mail to supporters, Brady responded essentially: I dont raise taxes. I am Republican.
Oh, and Buzz hasnt even mentioned state GOP chairman Chad Connelly showing up at Bernsteins law office last week and calling her a greedy trial lawyer, only to be kicked off the property by Bernsteins brother and husband.
And the race still has a week to go!
Air Clyburn flies for Obama
After all his campaigning for President Barack Obama, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia, should have enough frequent-flyer miles to earn a seat in the cockpit for his next vacation.
When the campaign is all over, South Carolinas only congressional Democrat will have hit a dozen states, making pitches for the president and congressional candidates at rallies, fundraisers, church events and tailgates. Clyburn will have spent 25 of 42 days on the road between Sept. 17 and Nov. 4, according to a schedule from his office.
So far, the No. 3 House Democrat has spent the equivalent of a week in Florida, and made multiple visits to North Carolina and Virginia. He also has stopped in Washington, Illinois and Georgia.
Last week, Clyburn flew from St. Louis to Columbia at 3 a.m. Thursday to celebrate a $5 million gift and new leader for USCs McNair aerospace center. At the event, Clyburn admitted he was a bit groggy and looking forward to spending the weekend at home.
But Obamas traveling man heads west tonight to Arizona, Nevada and Colorado. Then, next weekend, he will hit the key battleground states of Ohio and Virginia.
Will she sit
Gov. Nikki Haley, R-Lexington, is looking for a spot to spend election night.
The guv could hang out in Columbia and hold hands with the S.C. Senate candidates that she is backing, but The Buzz doesnt see GOP-leaning petition candidates getting invites to the Elephant Ball.
To avoid any awkwardness, Nikki could opt to zoom past the Mason-Dixon line for the evenings biggest GOP party. But Haley said last week that she has not decided whether to join Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for his election night party in Boston, where Romney will learn if voters liked him better than President Obama.
The Buzzs hunch is that Nikki goes to Red Sox-land to show her support for the presidential candidate who she has supported all along well, except on the night when Romney lost the S.C. primary and Haley was a no-show at his concession speech.
Trust us, Mitt, our guv has your back. ... Still, you need to get those Ohio poll numbers moving higher if you want to ensure Haley will attend.
The Buzz is keeping score this election season on which S.C. candidates are winning support from Gov. Haley and her political group, The Movement Fund. Haley endorsed two more Senate candidates last week, bringing the total to five. (The guv also gave herself a little support last week, holding a fundraiser in Soledad, Calif., while out in wine country for a Republican Governors Association gathering.)
Haleys endorsements, thus far, are for:
• Senate District 2 (Pickens): Republican state Sen. Larry Martin, opposed by petition candidate Rex Rice
• Senate District 23 (Lexington): Petition candidate Katrina Shealy, running against Republican state Sen. Jake Knotts
• Senate District 26 (Lexington): Republican Deedee Vaughters, trying to unseat Democratic state Sen. Nikki Setzler
• Senate District 28 (Horry): Petition candidate Greg Hembree, running against Democrat Butch Johnson
• Senate District 35 (Sumter): Republican Tony Barwick, running against Democrat Thomas McElveen
Charleston, why so serious?
Hey, Holy City, the Buzz did not mean to offend.
One little joke last week about a magazine naming Charleston the best tourist town in the world again, seriously? and your local paper has to rush to your defense faster than a South of Broad resident can complain about seeing their neighbors pool from the sidewalk.
A lot of this (insecurity) is about tourism, which has long been a sore spot with Columbia, (Charleston) Post and Courier columnist Brian Hicks surmised. The city likes to brag that it has the top tourist attraction in the state the Riverbanks Zoo. It is, to be sure, a very nice place. Stop and see it if youre in Columbia and bored.
Hicks suggested Charlestonians help South Carolinas capital city make next years tourism list. All we have to do is pitch Columbia as a destination for veteran travelers. How about: Come to Columbia, the heart of Dixie; if you dont believe it, just check out the flag at the Statehouse.
Gee, Buzz never claimed to be the brightest bulb in the fridge. But where were the first shots of the War of Northern Aggression fired?
Look everyone loves you, Charleston your sumptuous New York-priced restaurants and nostalgic slavery-tinged historic sites. Plus, you have all those quaint, PETA-friendly horse-drawn carriages that roll past charming PAAS Easter egg-colored houses. And how can we forget your inviting beaches, where drinking a beer will get you a ticket? Please dont let us agitate you.
(Well leave that to the tourists who dare say they like Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head better.)
Staff writer Andrew Shain contributed.