The Buzz

The Buzz: Who will stop the Dem-orrhage?

jself@thestate.comMarch 8, 2014 

Former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint and US Sen. Tim Scott


Dear S.C. Democrats: The Buzz noticed you’ve been a little wan lately, perhaps due to the candidates you bled out last week?

Republican U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, a senator thanks to no votes ever, may waltz his way into one of the easiest incumbencies in state history after Democrat Rick Wade dropped out of the Senate race Thursday.

The S.C. Republican Party said he’s “too liberal for South Carolina.”

But partisan bites aside, the former U.S. Commerce official, Obama campaign adviser and cabinet chief under ex-Gov. Jim Hodges arguably was the Democrats’ best shot at making Scott actually have to campaign for the votes he will need to keep the Senate seat.

Former Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian called Wade’s exit practical – winning was a “long shot” without assistance from the national Democratic groups that are focusing their efforts, instead, on keeping Democratic incumbents in the Senate. And 2016, when Scott will have to run again, may be a better year for Democrats with a presidential candidate topping their ticket, Harpo said.

Dems took another hit last week when state Rep. Mike Anthony, D-Union, dropped out of the race for state superintendent of education on Wednesday.

However, it is not time for doom and gloom, Dems say.

With official filing starting March 16, S.C. Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison said last week that he is talking to candidates who are eyeing races, but he did not name names.

And the party has candidates for other statewide offices.

Leading the effort is state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Camden, who hopes to win his re-match with Nikki Haley, R-Lexington, for the governor’s office.

Even if she has only $4,000 in her campaign account, Richland County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson still wants the U.S. Senate seat now held by Scott. Former public-school principal and teacher Montrio Belton of Fort Mill is running for state schools chief. And Jay Stamper, a controversial Washington state transplant who moved to South Carolina to run against U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, appears set to coast to his party’s nomination. (Not that Democrats are happy about having Stamper as their nominee.)

Other Democrats seeking statewide office include Charleston nonprofit consultant Ginny Deerin, who is running for secretary of state; Myrtle Beach attorney Parnell Diggs, who is running for attorney general; and Lexington’s Kyle Herbert, who is running for comptroller general.

State Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Bamberg, also is running for lieutenant governor and has proven he knows how to raise his profile, scoring spots on national political talk shows.

Sellers told The Buzz last week that he would be lying if he said the absence of Wade and Anthony from the Democratic ticket wasn’t a loss. “However, we’re not in the mode of devastation,” he added. “We have nowhere to go but up.”

Sellers said Democrats will win again in South Carolina once they show voters that the state’s struggles have persisted as Republicans, not Democrats, have controlled statewide offices and both chambers of the General Assembly.

It’s a difficult prospect, Sellers added. “(But) I’m not afraid of the challenge of making history.”

A foundation of blankets, “ladies undergarments”

When board members of the Midlands fledgling STEM Institute in Winnsboro were considering fundraising ideas, women’s underwear and fleece blankets were among the items suggested for a yard sale.

“It’s unorthodox,” said Kevin Thomas, co-founder and chairman of the public, tuition-free charter school, scheduled to open in a rehabbed nursing home in August. Before announcing next weekend’s underwear sale, Thomas checked in with the Charter School District for advice on the wording: “How do I do this and make sure it comes off well?”

The charter school, now enrolling students, is scheduled to open in August in Winnsboro as part of the S.C. Public Charter School District. For more on enrollment and fundraisers, visit

Buzz bites

It’s Cash’s party – GOP U.S. Senate hopeful Richard Cash is throwing a “One Nation Under God Rally” for his birthday on March 31, and he’ll sing if he wants to. Cash booked five-time Grammy winner and Christian singer-songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman. The Easley businessman is one of six GOP challengers to GOP incumbent Graham in June’s primary.

GOP conversion – Aiken County Councilwoman Kathy Rawls, involved in politics starting in the ‘70s, converted last week to the GOP from being a “conservative Democrat.” Rawls said the Democratic Party has grown “more and more liberal.” In a video of her announcement, Rawls said the degradation of the Constitution, including 2nd Amendment rights, and illegal immigration were among reasons she switched.

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