THE CONGRESSMAN AND THE 'CRYSTAL BALL'
University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato's "Crystal Ball" take last week on the 2nd District congressional race between Republican incumbent Joe Wilson of Lexington County and Democratic challenger Rob Miller of Beaufort County:
"Just a short month ago, who would have thought Joe Wilson would become a household name?
"Four weeks and one utterance of 'You lie!' later, the four-term Republican congressman is locked in a tough re-election race that has garnered nationwide attention.
"Since the outburst, Wilson has become a hero of the right and one of the left's most despised villains. As a result, he and his opponent, 2008 challenger and former Marine Corps Capt. Rob Miller, have raised about $2 million apiece, a staggering sum considering that these two candidates combined did not raise $2 million during their 2008 match-up.
"The 2008 race was a surprisingly close one, with Wilson winning a narrow 54 percent victory, the same proportion of the vote that Republican presidential nominee John McCain garnered in the district. In many districts across the country, Wilson's shout would have been the death knell for his re-election, but South Carolina's 2nd District is decidedly conservative and many voters appear to agree with Wilson's message, if not his method of delivery.
"With over a year left in the campaign, it is also still unclear how Miller will handle his new, higher-profile role as nationally known challenger. Taking all of this into account, the Crystal Ball now rates SC-02 as a competitive 'Leans Republican' race."
NO LOVE FOR JOE
U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn appeared unimpressed Friday with U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson's $2.7 million quarterly earnings.
"He's going to need every penny of it," Clyburn said cryptically Friday during a meeting with reporters.
Wilson, a Lexington County Republican, catapulted to Republican superstar status last month after yelling "You lie!" at President Barack Obama during a congressional address on health-care reform.
Wilson, who is up for re-election next year against Democrat Rob Miller, apologized to Obama and has said he's now the top target of Democrats who hope to oust him from his seat.
Clyburn, who led a successful U.S. House charge to censure Wilson, waved off such claims Friday. "He has what I would call an inflated opinion of his worth," Clyburn said. "He's not on anybody's hit list that I've seen ... other than Rob Miller's."
NO LOVE FOR S.C.?
Clyburn said he believes South Carolina's recent guffaw moments are preventing first lady Michelle Obama from visiting the Palmetto State despite her ties to Georgetown, where she often visited as a girl and still has family.
Clyburn pointed to Wilson's "You lie!" moment and a comment on a social site earlier this year by former Richland County GOP activist Rusty DePass, who said an escaped zoo gorilla was probably one of Michelle Obama's ancestors.
Clyburn said he's urged Michelle Obama to attend events in South Carolina, but because of scheduling and the required vetting of each event by her staff, she has not been able to attend.
"A lot of it has to do with the fact that the climate in South Carolina just is not good and that's a shame," he said. "I do believe it is keeping her away from this state."
Michelle Obama has not said that recent guffaws are preventing her from visiting the state.
- Gina Smith
HALEY MEETS HILTON HEAD
HILTON HEAD - Republican Rep. Nikki Haley took her gubernatorial campaign to Beaufort County last week.
"I am a legislator that knows what good government is, and I think the people of South Carolina deserve to know what that feels like," the Lexington state representative said Monday at Aunt Chiladas restaurant. She spoke at Hilton Head Island's First Monday Republican Lunch Group.
Haley answered questions on a variety of topics.
- The economy: Job creation and lowering the state's 12 percent unemployment rate is a major priority, Haley said. Developing the economy includes comprehensive reform of South Carolina's tax code and eliminating the income tax on small businesses that help drive the economy, she said.
- Gov. Mark Sanford: Haley said she is both personally and professionally disappointed in Sanford, who left the state for a secret five-day trip to Argentina in June and later admitted to having an affair with an Argentine woman. One attendee asked her if Sanford should be impeached.
"We all need to wait until the ethics investigation comes out before we pass any judgment at this point," Haley said.
- Education. Haley, who attended a rural public school in Bamberg, has two children in public schools. She said unfair disparities exist throughout the state's school districts and reform of the education funding formula is necessary.
- Government spending. Wasteful spending occurs in Washington and Columbia, Haley said.
"Tax relief doesn't mean anything if you don't rein in spending at the same time," she said.
- Kate Cerve, The Beaufort Gazette