MORNING BUZZ: Candidate who called Lindsey Graham ‘ambiguously gay’ not backing down

Posted by JAMIE SELF and ANDREW SHAIN on March 14, 2014 

Four of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham's Republican challengers in June's GOP primary have agreed they will support each other if one gets in a runoff. Pictured from left are, Bill Connor, Lee Bright, Richard Cash and Dave Feliciano. All joined each other Thursday at the State House to make the announcement.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

— When Dave Feliciano showed up at the State House in a dress shirt and jeans to meet with three suited veteran GOP politicians challenging U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham on Thursday, The Buzz knew the Spartanburg cop who quit his job to run for office might bring a different take to the campaign.

Boy, did he.

Speaking during a news conference where he, state Sen. Lee Bright, Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor and Easley businessman Richard Cash all pledged to back each other if one of them reached a run-off against fellow Republican Graham, Feliciano called the senator "ambiguously gay."

Graham's foes might not agree with the senator's politics, but this is not a place where they wanted to go. After the news conference, Cash could be seen gesturing pointedly while speaking to Feliciano, who no longer was least known of all senator's challengers.

As his comments became national news, Feliciano sent out a statement Thursday evening. There was no back tracking by the political newcomer.

Here is what Feliciano had to say under the headline, "U.S. Senate Candidate stands by his statement and gives strong message to fellow candidates!":

First off I stand by my comment. I will not apologize.

You’re right I came off as a bit insensitive but it got your attention. It should have, there is more at stake here then a job. Lindsey Graham confirmed two judges that will continue the abortion holocaust in America for years to come.

As far as respect for the man, not going to happen here. He has millions of lives that will be lost because of his incompetence. And for what, so he can look pretty in Washington.

Next, my fellow opponents who so quickly threw me under the bus. It is time for you guys to “man up”. Lindsey is wiping the floor with you in this campaign. Stop trying to look good for the cameras and begin to fight.

This idea of trying to become the first loser is ridiculous. Stand up and LEAD!! That’s what leaders do, and if they are going in the right direction people will follow.

When I say I will end Abortion in South Carolina I mean it. When you are on the streets and in a fight you do whatever you can to win. There are millions upon millions of babies out there that cannot fight for themselves and it is going to take a tough man to make it stop.

People are right that I haven’t raised much money and I don’t really know how to campaign well. I’m not a politician. Most likely my campaign will end at the end of this month and I will go back to serving the citizens of this amazing state.

For the candidates who do progress it is going to take a lot more to lead this fight then what I’ve seen so far. I pray one of you will take that mantle and lead.

But more importantly just be yourself. People are tired of the stuffed suits that do nothing.

And finally to Mr. Cash, lighten up dude. It’s not that big a deal. Enjoyed the press conference today and I wish everyone well."

More (and less controversial) Senate race news

• Charleston PR executive Nancy Mace announced the launching of her first television ad in her bid to oust Graham. (She and Columbia pastor Det Bowers did not join the pledge to back the Graham challenger who lands in a run-off.)

• Cash has launched a radio ad in his campaign.

• Graham is serving up free food and ice cream at campaign events in Beaufort County this weekend. He is hosting a free Lowcountry Boil at the Q on Bay Restaurant in Beaufort on Friday night. On Saturday, Graham will meet with Sun City Hilton Head residents and then hold an ice cream social at The Ice Cream Cone on Hilton Head Island.

The Clicks

BMW's big plans: BMW said Thursday it would make a “significant economic and product announcement” at its Greer assembly plant on March 28. The German automaker gave no other details in an advisory to news media other than a list of speakers. They include BMW Group Chairman Norbert Reithofer, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Gov. Nikki Haley. Full story

Haley signs military housing bill: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has signed into law a bill designed to give military homeowners a tax break on homes they couldn’t sell before being deployed. Full story

Complaints about secret Harrell case talks: Officials of five statewide citizen activist and open-government groups Thursday decried a secret effort by House Speaker Bobby Harrell get a state judge to disqualify Attorney General Alan Wilson as prosecutor in the State Grand Jury investigation of Harrell’s possible misuse of campaign funds. Full story

Big man on campus: While fending off pointed questions about his past, Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell says the years he spent leading the state Senate prepared him well to lead the College of Charleston. McConnell, one of three finalists for the school's presidency, addressed and took questions from hundreds of students and faculty, staff and community members Thursday at the downtown campus. Full story

Sunday campaign filing sought: State and county election offices should open Sunday, the first day candidates can file for the June primaries, State Rep. Bakari Sellers, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, asked the S.C. Election Commission on Thursday.Full story

Abortion bill advances: Conservative legislators’ strong push to end abortions in South Carolina was boosted Thursday when a state Senate panel advanced a bill that would require doctors who perform the procedure to have privileges to admit patients to nearby hospitals, which sometimes can be difficult. Full story

Gowdy vs. Obama: Rep. Trey Gowdy said Thursday that President Barack Obama is at odds with his former lawmaker self on executive privilege, and a bill passed by the House on Wednesday aims to address that “lawlessness.” The South Carolina Republican dismissed criticism that the bill erodes executive powers long wielded by presidents, saying the situation in the Obama administration is without precedent. Full story

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