SC politics: Graham could avoid runoff in GOP Senate primary

May 27, 2014 

Poll: Graham could avoid runoff

A new poll shows U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham avoiding a runoff in June 10’s GOP primary.

The poll, conducted by TargetPoint for the right-leaning Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, shows Graham getting 56 percent of the vote. Graham faces six Republican challengers in his bid for a third term. If his challengers can hold him to half the vote, Graham will face his top opponent in a runoff on June 24.

However, Graham’s nearest challenger is Easley businessman Richard Cash at 7 percent, according to the poll.

State Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, came in third with 6 percent in the poll, followed by Charleston PR executive Nancy Mace at 5 percent, Columbia pastor Det Bowers at 4 percent, and Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor and Columbia attorney Benjamin Dunn each at 1 percent.

The poll interviewed 600 likely S.C. Republican primary voters from May 16 to May 22. Its margin of error was 2.8 percentage points.

The poll also concluded turnout may be low for the primary. While 77 percent of participants said it was highly likely they would vote, only 19 percent knew the date the primary is being held. Almost six in 10 – 58 percent – of those interviewed did not know and would not guess the date.

3 Democrats call for House vote on Social Services director

Three Democrats want the S.C. House to take a no-confidence vote in Department of Social Services director Lillian Koller.

The Richland County Democrats introduced a resolution Tuesday urging Republican Gov. Nikki Haley to fire Koller. Haley repeatedly has backed Koller despite several calls for her ousting.

It’s unlikely the GOP-controlled House will vote on the resolution before the regular legislative session ends next week.

A Senate panel is investigating problems at Social Services. Allegations include that Koller’s management method for meeting priorities has led to decisions based on numbers instead of children’s welfare. She disputes that.

Haley spokesman Doug Mayer said the bill is politically motivated and will do nothing to prevent children from being abused or neglected.

Senate votes against House ethics plan

The state Senate refused Tuesday to adopt the House’s latest version of a bill intended to strengthen South Carolina’s ethics laws.

Senators voted 39-2 not to agree with last week’s House changes. That sets up a committee of House and Senate members to try to reach a compromise on the chambers’ versions.

That will be difficult. Legislators have called ethics reform a top priority since 2012. But they’ve gotten stuck over who handles complaints against legislators.

The latest House proposal creates a 12-member super ethics commission to investigate complaints against all publicly elected officials as well as judges.

Senators say that’s too complicated. Their version keeps in place the current system of House and Senate ethics committees overseeing their own members’ campaign filings.

The regular session ends next week.

Voters to decide whether governor should appoint adjutant general

The House voted Tuesday to allow S.C. voters to decide whether the state’s adjutant general should be appointed by the governor. The state Senate previously had approved the proposal.

South Carolina now is the only state in the nation that elects the head of its National Guard. Now, however, voters will be asked in November whether they want to change that.

“That South Carolina will now treat the head of our National Guard the same as every other state in the nation is so important, and is a further leap forward in our efforts to bring our state government into the 21st century,” Gov. Nikki Haley said in a statement. “What happened today is another huge win for the people of South Carolina.”

Gilbert Marine to appear at luncheon

The Gilbert Marine who will be awarded the Medal of Honor next month for his actions in Afghanistan, will attend a luncheon Wednesday honoring S.C. soldiers who died while serving their country.

Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter, 24, was wounded severely when he threw himself on a grenade to save a friend and fellow Marine’s life. Carpenter will be the special guest at the Wednesday’s luncheon, hosted by state Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington, according to a news release.

The event will honor two S.C. soldiers who died while serving. Capt. James E. Chaffin III, 27, of West Columbia died April 1, 2014, in Afghanistan in a non-combat-related incident. U.S. Army Spec. Embert Alt, 21, of Beech Island died June 1, 2013, in Afghanistan of combat wounds.

Childs launches first TV ad

Republican candidate for superintendent of education Meka Childs launched her first TV ad Tuesday, touting individualized education and supporting school choice for parents.

“As your next education superintendent, I’ll personalize learning to the needs of each child, ensure that every day each student receives high-quality instruction and empower parents with more options,” Childs said in the ad, which also appeared on her campaign’s Facebook page.

Childs is one of eight Republican candidates on the June 10 primary ballot.

Governor’s schedule, activities

Gov. Nikki Haley’s publicly announced schedule for the rest of this week, released Tuesday by her staff, is:

Thursday, 3:30 p.m. – Take part in a ceremonial bill signing for H.3231, Motorcycle Equal Access Bill, State House

Thursday, 7 p.m. – Speak at the Southern Carolina Alliance annual regional celebration, University of South Carolina-Salkehatchie West Campus, Allendale

Friday, 10 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. – Join local officials at Horry, Charleston and Beaufort counties’ Emergency Management, respectively, for a media briefing following a hurricane preparedness meeting, Conway, North Charleston and Beaufort

According to her staff, the governor’s activities last week included:

12 – Republican Governors Association events or meetings in New York

8 – Economic development calls or meetings, including at least three while she was in New York

2 – Speeches or addresses, to Wal-Mart’s Asian Pacific Associate Network heritage event and a commencement address to her high school alma mater, Orangeburg Prep

1 each – Call concerning an unidentified state agency; also, a call to another elected official, Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt

Busiest day – Tuesday, with eight activities

Slowest days – Monday and Friday, with two activities each

Of note – According to her schedule, prepared by her staff, Haley did not go to her state office last week

Jamie Self, Cassie Cope, The Associated Press and staff reports

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