COLUMBIA, SC — The State House is closed today for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, but that doesn't mean it will be empty.
Several hundred people are scheduled to march to the State House today for the annual "King Day at the Dome" rally, sponsored by the SC chapter of the NAACP.
Scheduled speakers include Lorraine Miler, interim president and chief executive of the NAACP, the Rev. James Blassingame, president of S.C. Baptist E&M Convention and William Barber, president of the N.C. chapter of the NAACP.
Barber's presence is interesting because he is one of the architects of the "Moral Monday" protests at the North Carolina statehouse last year. Last week, South Carolina progressives held their own version, calling it "Truthful Tuesday."
(Barber already shared some of his views during a speech Sunday night -- denouncing narrow-minded political and religious thinking that has put extremism on steroids.)
During Republican Gov. Nikki Haley's time at the State House, state agencies have had to answer the phone saying "It's a great day in South Carolina," a reflection of Haley's optimistic view of the state's future.
But don't expect to hear any optimism on Monday.
"South Carolina has nothing for us to celebrate. Absolutely nothing," Lonnie Randolph, president of the S.C. NAACP, said at a news conference announcing the rally last month.
Happy birthday, governor
Wish Gov. Nikki Haley a happy 42nd birthday today.
And she's accepting gifts -- the kind that she hopes will win her another four yours in the mansion.
Too bad Haley's the country's youngest governor or her birthday request might be a little more lucrative.
State of the State or state of the election?
Gov. Nikki Haley will deliver her annual take on the South Carolina's status on Wednesday, but her State of the State address will be looked at a little differently this year.
The first-term Republican is running for re-election in November, and she wants a few things from this General Assembly session to mark off as accomplishments. So her address will be analyzed for its politics as much as its policy.
One of them is ethics reform -- though none of the politicians or South Carolinians interviewed mentioned it as a top issue.
Nonetheless, ethics should be a priority, (Haley senior adviser Tim) Pearson said, adding the governor is hearing about the issue while traveling around the state. Its important to restore public confidence in whats happening here (in the State House).
Topics mentioned most often by those outside the governor's office were education, roads and health care.
Some folks in Haley's party have questions for the governor, such as how to fund $29 billion deficit in road and bridge repairs over the next 20 years.
I just dont think the governor has shown the leadership to want to fix the infrastructure problems of the state, said state Sen. Ray Cleary, R-Georgetown, who has suggested raising the states gas tax to help pay for road repairs a move Haley opposes.
At some point . . . you have to say, Am I here to get re-elected? or Am I here to fix the problems people sent me here to fix? Cleary said. I would like Nikki Haley to be a leader like Carroll Campbell was and maybe not necessarily want to be loved and liked but be honest with the citizens.
A plan to unite the Tea Party movement?
A national speaker at the S.C. Tea Party's annual meeting in Myrtle Beach this weekend -- retired Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, chairman of Stand Up America -- said he wants to help groups across the country speak together in the next election.
The tea-party people are looking for leadership, he said. The next level is where do we go with the tea party?
... To strike this balance Vallely announced his plan to create an organization that will consist of a leadership council that will help the organizations speak as one voice while still maintaining their separate identities.
What we are recommending is after receiving a lot of feedback and talking to people is forming the American Provisional Leadership Council, Vallely said. It will work with all the tea parties to be a voice in Washington, D.C., to direct the government on what they need to do. So we have a common voice.
Vallely explained that he is not attempting to force the various tea-party groups to submit to the leadership council, but he is creating it to provide a tool to go on the offensive in 2014.
He said his goal is to have at least eight people on the council that come from all walks of life and have what he calls common-sense wisdom. Those he is looking for could be seniors, three- or four-star generals or enlisted service members, or even corporate executives.
The convention continues today with a debate among the four candidates running against U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca. (Graham's name is listed with two question marks behind it on the convention agenda.)
Also scheduled to speak today are a number of Republican S.C. congressmen -- Tom Rice, Mick Mulvaney, Jeff Duncan and Joe Wilson -- as well as S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson and S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis.
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