MORNING BUZZ: Republican guv formula takes shape - Sheheen + Obama = 2014 GOP win

Posted by ANDREW SHAIN on February 28, 2014 

S.C. Sen. Vincent Sheheen (left) and S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley

— Let the slug fest begin.

The GOP game plan in the 2014 S.C. governor's race seems pretty clear: tie Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Vincent Sheheen to Democratic President Barack Obama in a state where the nation's chief exec holds a 40 percent approval rating.

The Republican Governors Association is expected to air $200,000 in television ads in major S.C. metro markets criticizing Sheheen's support for the Obama-bred Affordable Care Act starting next week, sources said.

This is second round of ads going after the Camden attorney's willingness to take the first three years of the federal health-care plan, at no cast to the state, that Republican Gov. Nikki Haley rejected.

The Movement Fund, a pro-Haley political group, spent about $300,000 to air television spots questioning Sheheen’s support of health-care reform a year ago.

Sheheen can expect more of this until November with Haley's $3.7 million war chest plus whatever else the RGA and Movement Find throws in.

The Democratic Governors Association has pledged to help Sheheen, though it's not saying how yet. Certainly expect a lot of talk about the massive 2012 data breach at the S.C. Department of Revenue that affected millions of taxpayers going back more than decade.

The day in the ethics reform

Well, Haley and Sheheen agree on something -- they don't like the ethics reform bill passed by the Senate on Thursday. The rivals said the bill misfires for excluding an independent body to investigate allegations against lawmakers. Legislators keep policing themselves in the Senate version.

Haley's office called it an income-disclosure bill that was "really only a half-step.” Sheheen said the bill "is pretty close to nothing." The bill goes back to the House, which included an independent investigator in its version.

Meanwhile in case sweeping reform fails, a House panel has moved ahead six bills to change campaign rules on Thurday. State Rep. Kirkman Finlay, a Richland Republican, sponsored the bills after he said he “noticed ... some gaps” in campaign reporting.

His bills call for a 30-day period for lawmakers to fix any problems in their filings, ending the use of cash by candidates to pay bills, barring cash contributions from voters and forbidding the use of campaign money to pay ethics fines.

Happening today

• College of Charleston trustees interview 10 finalists for president. One of them reportedly is Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, an alum who has a dorm named after him on campus. Trustees could release a list of three to five finalists after the meeting.

• Gov. Nikki Haley delivers the keynote address at the Dallas County GOP Reagan Day Dinner in Texas.

• The Young Democrats of America begin its national winter meeting in Charleston with a speech by state Rep. Bakari Sellers, a Bamberg Democrat running for lieutenant governor. U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia, speaks about voter rights and civil rights on Saturday.

• The Joint Legislative Committee to Screen Candidates for College and University Boards of Trustees finishes several days of interviews with applicants from a number of public schools. The final college is the Medical University of South Carolina, which some lawmakers have proposed to combine with the College of Charleston. The MUSC board voted this month to oppose the merger. A vote on trustees for all schools by the General Assembly is expected in April.

Politics clicks

New insurer winning majority of marketplace customers in SC: With a month to go in the first year of the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, it appears Consumers’ Choice Health Plan, a newcomer to South Carolina, has made an immediate impact. The nonprofit co-op isn’t releasing policy numbers, but Consumers’ Choice says it has sold more than 50 percent of the plans purchased in South Carolina. Full story

Richland election fallout continues: Allen Dowdy is not seeking re-election to the Richland County Board of Elections & Voter Registration board, which has been under public scrutiny since 2012’s election disaster. Dowdy, who has served on the board since 1996, is chairman. Full story

Zais on what non-college-bound students need to know: State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais told members of the Greenville County Republican Women’s Club that students who decide by ninth grade that they aren’t going to college should not be required to study literary classics or take any math courses above Algebra I. Full story

Meeting the prez: President Barack Obama has asked Coluimbia attorney Tommy Preston to be a part of his new initiative, “My Brother’s Keeper.” The president launches his special project today “to help young men of color stay on track.” Full story

Tommy Preston speaks at The State's 20 Under 40 reception this month

State House clicks

Fido and Kitty could be part of protective court orders: A bill pending in the S.C. General Assembly would allow judges to issue emergency protective orders for pets who live in violent homes. Full story

Hemp, beer? Another day at the SC Legislature: The state Senate’s Agricultural and Natural Resources committee Thursday approved a bill that would allow S.C. farmers to grow industrial hemp. Meanwhile, a bill has been introduced in the S.C. House to allow Darlington Raceway to sell beer and wine any time the track holds an event. Full story

First-time abusers could see more jail time, have guns taken away: Legislation is working its way through the S.C. General Assembly that would put more responsibility on people who are charged with criminal domestic violence. A bill, sponsored by state Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Bamberg, would increase jail time for first-time offenders, would require mandatory counseling and would force abusers to turn over their guns to police. Full story

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