The Buzz

The Buzz: Gunning for the SC governor’s mansion

thebuzz@ thestate.comDecember 28, 2013 

The 2014 gubernatorial arms race: The day after Republican Gov. Nikki Haley posted a photo of her Beretta handgun given as a Christmas present (left) last week, a pal of her 2014 Democratic challenger Vincent Sheheen posted a picture of him firing a shotgun.

A gunfight broke out last week on the way to next year’s South Carolina governor’s race.

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley shared a photo of her new Beretta handgun that she got from her hubby for Christmas on her Facebook page.

Democrats cried politics – not so, Haley’s people insisted – as thousands reacted on social media to Haley’s holiday gift. The guv’s Facebook post alone notched a personal-best 18,200-plus likes, while a debate over gun control and political ideology raged on Twitter.

Then, a political operative pal tweeted a photo of state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, the Dems’ hope in 2014, firing a shotgun: “@nikkihaley here’s @vincentsheheen using a gun he’s had for over decade. Glad you finally own one.”

(During the 2010 Haley-Sheheen governor’s race campaign, Sheheen also aired a commercial showing him hunting with a shotgun.)

The Buzz is calling this duel a draw, though we are noticing a pattern with the governor – three “tough gal” online postings since the summer.

In July, Haley’s staff released videos of Haley firing machine guns while she visited a Columbia arms maker. Earlier this month, she was busting a wood board in her office to earn an honorary black belt this. Now, we have the pistol-packin’ governor.

Haley’s folks say she is looking forward to taking the Beretta to the range.

They declined, however, to say whether the concealed-weapon permit holder plans to carry the gun at official events where she receives SLED protection.

Some gunfights, it seems, go unresolved.

Still waiting on McConnell

The Buzz keeps asking, but word is that Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell still has not decided whether he will stay in politics or make a run at the presidency of his alma mater, the College of Charleston.

McConnell’s self-imposed New Year’s deadline is approaching.

He has said how much he would like to lead the state’s third-largest public college, which has a 240-bed dorm named after him. But trustees are not choosing a new leader until after February – leaving too little time for the Charleston Republican to raise enough cash for a contested Republican primary in June.

McConnell has surprised close associates before.

His campaign adviser Richard Quinn wrote a resignation letter for McConnell to step down as Senate president pro tempore so he could avoid automatically becoming lieutenant governor when Ken Ard resigned last year. (The Senate boss has a lot more power than the state’s lieutenant governor.)

McConnell, citing loyalty to his oath of office, took the lieutenant governor’s post.

Still, take a moment to ponder the fact that if McConnell had stepped aside, another top GOP senator, John Courson or Harvey Peeler, would be South Carolina’s No. 2.

100 Renaissance Weekends

The New Year’s “house party” mixing politics, arts, business and academia that was started in the Lowcountry by Phil and Linda Lader holds its 100th meeting this weekend.

Some 1,200 people are heading to attend 631 talks and performances at the 100th Renaissance Weekend in Charleston, holding sessions through Wednesday.

This weekend ’s guest list includes retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former CIA officer Valerie Plame, U.S. House chaplain the Rev. Patrick Conroy, sex therapist Ruth Westheimer (now 85), Guinness World Record rower Roz Savage, actress Estelle Parsons, author Gail Sheehy and at least four Nobel laureates in economics and physics, according to a list provided by organizers.

Guests to the 1981 inaugural weekend on Hilton Head Island included Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Berry, TV anchor Diane Sawyer and S.C. Gov. Dick Riley.

Then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton would start attending a few years later before becoming president.

Phil Lader, a businessman who became Winthrop University’s president, was appointed administrator of the Small Business Administration and U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom under Clinton.

How do 33 years of think-fests add up to 100 Renaissance Weekends? They’re not just held at New Year’s anymore and not just in South Carolina. Events in 2014 are planned for California, Colorado and New York.

The gatherings always aim for an eclectic slate of programs. This weekend is featuring: “Edward Snowden – Traitor or Whistle-Blower?” as well as “Dangerous Liaisons? – the Great Thaw in U.S.-Iran Relations,” “The Consequences of Moods,” “What Difference Will Pope Francis Make?,” “How Do People Fall In – and Out of – Love?,” “What Health Care Really Costs,” “Sacred Cows That Aren’t Milking Anymore,” “The Habits of Highly Effective Sleepers,” “Zombie Stars & Dark Energy” and “Magical Power in Harry Potter.”

Hopefully, everyone visited Ollivanders to get their wands.

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