Current, former politicians react to Lee Bandy's passing

October 21, 2013 

‘Palmetto State institution’

“I join Lee Bandy’s former colleagues at The State, as well as his friends and his many devoted readers, in mourning his passing. Lee was more than a prodigious and prolific observer of South Carolina politics. For political junkies across America, he was a Palmetto State institution — a widely respected reporter who always had keen insights into events and their impact, but who also had a ‘kinder and gentler’ way of going about his business. Barbara and I send our sincere condolences to Lee’s family.”

— Former President George H.W. Bush, through spokesman Jim McGrath

‘Called it as he saw it’

“South Carolina has lost one of her strongest and most capable voices. He explained what was going on in South Carolina government and politics with clarity and integrity. Lee’s criticisms stung and his praise was appreciated. There was never any doubt Lee called it as he saw it. He was a great role model for young reporters and will be missed.”

— U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of Seneca

‘Set the gold standard’

“Lee Bandy was a South Carolina treasure. Over the course of a career that spanned decades, Lee set the gold standard for insightful coverage of government and politics, and he leaves behind a legacy that touches thousands. Michael and I lift up the Bandy family and Lee’s many friends in our prayers.”

— Gov. Nikki Haley of Lexington

‘Journalist of the highest order’

“Lee Bandy was a journalist of the highest order. … I had great respect for him. He was a writer that was accurate and based on facts. He certainly was not opinionated. He made strong journalistic statements about things. He was tough but ... he was honest. He was a great friend of mine. ... I respect him, and I’ll miss him. We would laugh together even though we would talk about difficult subjects.”

— Former Gov. Dick Riley of Greenville

‘Most cussed and discussed’

“He was probably the most cussed and discussed reporter in the state, and I say that in a very affectionate way because Lee’s weekly article could make or break a politician’s fortunes, not only inside South Carolina but outside South Carolina. I’m one of those he occasionally said good things about and, sometimes, he said bad things. There was never anything malicious in Lee’s reporting. It was honest and straightforward. The one thing I always loved about Lee was if he ever concluded that he was wrong, he would change his mind. He was never hesitant to say he was wrong. The trick was he wasn’t wrong a whole lot.”

— Former Gov. Jim Hodges of Columbia

‘Had that kind of relationship’

“We debated issues quite a bit. We had some very spirited discussions about things. I always enjoyed that. When I got elected, I was 52 years old. A day or two after the election, he raised the issue that I was getting elected to Congress around the time that many people were retiring from Congress, and he wanted to know if I could make any significant contributions that late in life. I told him I could. ... ‘The first thing I’m going to do is run as president of the freshman class.’ ... He asked me: How did I expect to win? I said, ‘I don’t know, but I’m going to run.’ I ran and I won. ... I enjoyed reminding him when I got elected. But we had that kind of relationship.”

— U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn of Columbia

‘The passing of an institution’

“(I)n some ways, it is the passing of an institution as much as it is a person. ... What you always hope for ... is someone who has to do what he has to do in terms of getting to the bottom of a story, but they’re still rigorous in sourcing of leads, they’re rigorous in checking of facts and they’re still human in the process. He had those attributes and many, many more. He was the go-to guy for S.C. politics.”

— U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford of Charleston, former governor of South Carolina

‘Widely followed by many’

“He was a very skilled journalist and was widely followed by many, and I know that he was a friend of my parents. He just let you kind of talk. … He came across as much more interested in letting you talk about the subject that we was writing a story on. He had a more gentlemanly way about him.”

— State Sen. Paul Thurmond of Charleston, a son of the late S.C. Sen. Strom Thurmond, who Bandy covered for decades

‘‘Had the source of all sources’

“He was the man, the star in the political media and the political press in S.C. when I was cutting my teeth. He was someone we all looked up to. We always wanted to be on Lee Bandy’s good side because everybody had such great respect for him. He was tough but he was very fair-minded. He called me up one time, and he was breaking a story (about President George W. Bush asking Wilkins to be the ambassador to Chile). I said, ‘Who’d you get your source from?’ and he said, ‘The president of the United States.’ ... He sort of set me up to deny it, and then told me he had the source of all sources. It became a standing joke.”

— David Wilkins of Greenville, former S.C. speaker of the House

‘‘Influence extends beyond the borders of South Carolina’

“Lee Bandy deserves the honor of the state’s top journalist. Lee’s influence extends beyond the borders of South Carolina. Journalists in Washington respect his judgment and professionalism, and look to him to test the political winds here."

— The late Carroll Campbell, former governor of South Carolina, in 2002, when Bandy was awarded the S.C. Press Association’s journalist of the year

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