THE MORNING BUZZ: Welcome home, Michael Haley

Posted by ANDREW SHAIN on December 12, 2013 

SC Haley Guard

Capt. Michael Haley

RAINIER EHRHARDT — AP

— No wonder Gov. Nikki Haley's public schedule was so light after Tuesday.

S.C. First Gentleman Michael Haley's agriculture-training National Guard unit returns to Columbia on Thursday after nearly a year in Afghanistan.

The captain's deployment added to a list of firsts for Haley, who is South Carolina's first female and first minority governor. She also is the first sitting governor to have a spouse deployed to a combat zone.

Michael Haley's stint overseas changed some perceptions for a sometimes divisive governor.

Nikki Haley, the wife and mother, ended up sharing the spotlight with Nikki Haley, the politician, while her husband worked to convince Afghan farmers swap poppy crops for food crops.

The deployment humanized the governor to the public from her tearful good-bye at his unit's departure in January to the humorous story of locking herself out of the Governor's Mansion in her robe.

She used her Facebook page not only to post photos of her husband in Afghanistan but share messages of managing through his absence.

"Life of a spouse whose loved one is deployed: your mornings are his nights, happy/sad moments are put on hold (because) you have to email them and wait for a response, days run together," she posted in October.

Michael Haley's military service also bolsters the governor's narrative and pro-military stance in a re-election rematch with Democrat Vincent Sheheen next year and, if she wins, to any national ambitions in 2016 and beyond.

She mentioned her husband and posted a photo of him in a Facebook post about Veteran's Day. She received loud applause when his name came up at speaking engagements. The governor smiled at a news conference this summer when she revealed she shot the same type of M249 machine gun issued to her husband during a tour of a Columbia arms maker.

Nikki Haley went through the experience of thousands of spouses who shared loved ones with Uncle Sam -- a powerful message for potential voters who honor her family's sacrifice.

Some might choose to do so at the ballot box.

For now, Haley's next step comes at roughly 12:30 p.m. Thursday near the Columbia airport.

Update Michael Haley posted this on Facebook today:

"It has been a great tour, but long 11 months in Afghanistan. I am very much looking forward to coming home to my family and the great state of South Carolina! I digress and reflect on the discerning words of Forest Gump who said 'I think I'll go home now.' "

On the road

The legislative Joint Transportation Review Committee will meet Thursday to screen five candidates for three seats on the S.C. Department of Transportation Commission. (11 a.m. Thursday, Gressette Room 209. Agenda with candidates list)

Buzz Clicks

Nearly five times as many people in S.C. selected health insurance policies on healthcare.gov in November than in October, though the two-month total of 2,761 is still well below projections. Full story

The State Law Enforcement Division is asking for 65 additional agents as South Carolina’s statewide police force tries to rebuild after years of staffing cuts. Full story

South Carolina’s status improved slightly in the 2013 edition of America’s Health Rankings, moving from 44th to 43rd in part because of the state’s effort to ensure poor children get Medicaid coverage. Full story

Comparing management fees paid by South Carolina’s $27 billion retirement fund to those paid by other states is not fair because South Carolina reports its fees more thoroughly than other states, a manager and consultant told legislators Wednesday. Full story

A joint FBI-SLED report into allegations concerning interim Columbia police chief Ruben Santiago has been forwarded to another solicitor to avoid any conflict of interest, 5th Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson said Wednesday. Full story

A joint legislative committee report aimed at strengthening S.C. lawmakers’ hands in dealing with electric power generated from private sources, such as solar, moved forward Wednesday in the General Assembly. Full story

Following an initial meeting Tuesday, Boeing Co. began serious negotiations with the Machinists union Wednesday, seeking a labor deal that would secure the building of the 777X jet for Everett, Wash. Many states, including perhaps South Carolina where Boeing has a plant, were hopeful of landing the production work. Full story

BMW is considering building engines in North America for the first time and expanding vehicle production in the region to capitalize on growing demand, three people familiar with the matter said. Officials in South Carolina, where the automaker has a plant, would not say if the state was in the running. Full story

The Richland 2 school board censured board member Melinda Anderson Monday night for an October incident in which she was heard making threatening statements about a head football coach in the district. Full story

South Carolina's utility regulatory agency on Wednesday ordered an end to SCE&G's complicated bill-adjusting program and, beginning in January, customers' bills will reflect their actual electricity usage. Full story

Almost 18 months after criminal charges of grand larceny and computer crime were dropped against him, former Clemson University board secretary Eugene Troutman is suing his former employer, alleging “malicious prosecution.” Full story

Horry County will pay Canadian airline WestJet a little more than $551,000 per their revenue guarantee agreement – an agreement local leaders doubt will happen again. Full story

More jumbo-sized tires will be rolling through the Port of Charleston from the Upstate next year. The source is Michelin North America, which marks the opening its newest South Carolina tire plant Thursday. It's the company's ninth manufacturing site in the state. Full story

Best of the Buzz

South Carolina would keep its status as an early-primary state under proposals to streamline the 2016 Republican presidential primary. Full story

Gov. Nikki Haley said Wednesday that more 40,000 new jobs have been announced since she took office in January 2011, but her office did not provide a breakdown of how many of the promised jobs have been filled. Full story

The Joint Legislative Committee to Screen Candidates for College and University Boards of Trustees is seeking letters of intent for 62 seats on state college boards. Full story

Who killed Columbia's Costco -- the company or the county? Full story

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