A sometimes irreverent look at S.C. politics
Psst, it’s a secret
The Buzz couldn’t sleep well Friday night, waiting for Tuesday’s Senate GOP caucus.
OK, the Buzz is strange but consider: Tuesday, state Senate Republicans – all paid by the state and its taxpayers – will gather – in a state-owned building – and try to decide secretly – no outsiders will be admitted – who among them will be the state’s next Senate president pro tempore and, perhaps, the state’s lieutenant governor or – who knows? – governor.
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And what secrets they will have!
• State Sens.Hugh Leatherman
of Florence County andHarvey Peeler
of Cherokee County aren’t big fans of each other!
• The state’s Republican Party, while ruling every major elective office but one (OK, U.S. Rep.Jim Clyburn
does stick out like a sore thumb), is not one cohesive vote-winning machine!
• And, oddly enough, Senate Republicans may be downright dysfunctional withoutGlenn McConnell
, the soon-to-be former president pro tem best known – in some parts – for liking to dress up like a Confederate soldier and taking boatloads of money to Charleston to restore the CSS Hunley.
Problem is, none of it is a secret.
• Peeler effectively ousted Leatherman as Senate majority leader, and while Leatherman remains Senate Finance chairman – a powerful post that heavily influences the state budget – he’s suspected in some GOP circles for once having been ... a Democrat. (He also talks about the value of public education every now and then.) Meanwhile, Peeler is suspect for being too close to Gov.Nikki Haley
, who’s a Republican too but barely tolerated in some GOP circles, despite all the time she has put in courting both Peeler and the inscrutable Leatherman.
• The S.C. GOP is at least three parties – no-government libertarians, small-government (but please pay for my child’s private school) social conservatives and – hold on – just folks who’d like to see good, effective state government.
• McConnell, soon to become lieutenant governor, may have been the only Senate Republican capable of keeping the group somewhat on the same page.
None of which matters, of course, to everyday South Carolinians.
Except – while the Buzz isn’t a lawyer – the Republicans, who love to talk about open, transparent government, should be meeting in public. Come on guys, you’re paid by taxpayers, meeting in a state-owned building and deciding who will hold a key – or, potentially, key-er or key-est – public position.
(Besides, whatever you say in private will leak out by noon anyway.)
Another Senate lion calls it a career
Last week’s events make it likely that many may have failed to notice perhaps one of the most significant: The announcement that of one of the Senate’s lions will not seek re-election.
“I am a big-government liberal and have never hidden it,” state Sen. John Land, D-Clarendon, said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “I’ve watched the growth of this state, the improvement of this state over the last 40 years, and I believe we live in a better state because of the money we have invested in ourselves, our infrastructure, our schools ... all of the agencies that we have invested in over the years. We have a better South Carolina because of that. I am proud to have been a part of that.”
Agree? Disagree? The Buzz has no position, except the Senate will be a poorer place for his absence.
‘Democrats running as Republicans!’
The decision of the Laurens County GOP to adopt a “purity” pledge had The Buzz scratching its head last week.
Beset with a local sex scandal, the party’s county chairman said the GOP just wanted to guarantee its candidates were up to snuff on the three dozen key issues that define Republicans, in the opinion of the good committee members of the Laurens County Republican Party.
Gotta love guns? Cool. The Buzz was raised hunting.
Strong defense. Favor it.
No pre-marital sex. We favor it – 100 percent – for our kids, but, uh, can the Buzz plead the Fifth? (It’s part of the Bill of Rights.)
S.C. GOP chairman Chad Connelly interceded at one point, trying to help the Laurens Republicans dig themselves out of the hole that they had dug. “We’ve had Democrats running as Republicans (in local elections) who have said they’re doing it because it’s the only way they can get elected. We don’t want that. We want people who will carry the Republican banner and be true to our principles.”
Like Charlie Sharpe, Thomas Ravenel, Mark Sanford and Ken Ard? (Sorry, Chad. It was a hanging curve.)
‘Forget Kansas. What’s the matter with South Carolina?’
The Buzz hates it when outsiders offer our beloved South Carolina advice.
Nonetheless, Atlantic Monthly did so online last week, opining the saga of the aforementioned Ard.
“Forget Kansas. What’s the matter with South Carolina? On Friday, Lt. Gov. Ken Ard resigned. ... It’s the latest act in what has become an ongoing Palmetto State circus. Gov. Nikki Haley, loudly heralded as a Tea Party star upon her election, has been a bit of a flop since getting into office. She has alienated her Tea Party base, failed to institute transparency reforms she promised, and seen her approval rating plummet.”
Then, the Atlantic opined about Sanford’s fall from grace. And Andre Bauer.
“The state’s travails point to the problem of single-party governance. The Democratic Party in South Carolina is effectively a non-entity (much to party chair and quip-machine Dick Harpootlian’s chagrin). ...
“It makes sense: South Carolina is a conservative state, and voters ought to elect officials who reflect their views. The problem is accountability, not partisanship. When a party doesn’t have much effective competition, there’s less pressure to recruit the best candidates and for politicians to keep their standards up. For a good example on the other side of the aisle, consider New York. ... The GOP’s weakness (in New York) shows in the Democratic record. Before Mark Sanford, there was Eliot Spitzer, a.k.a. Client No. 9, patron of prostitutes. ...
“But New York offers some hope for South Carolinians,” the Atlantic concluded. “New Yorkers did elect Andrew Cuomo, who’s been quietly effective and competent. The Palmetto State just needs to find its conservative Cuomo.”