The Buzz

January 29, 2014

MORNING BUZZ: 'Anything but optimistic' - SC's GOP-heavy delegation pans address

The Buzz

A blog from The State's political team of Cassie Cope, Jamie Self and Andy Shain. Email tips to

Not a huge surprise that with eight of nine South Carolina congressional delegation members belonging to the party opposite of President Barack Obama that their reactions to his State of the Union speech were rather critical.

“It’s disappointing that President Obama would give a campaign speech that divides the country rather than focus on issues that can bring both parties together in America’s best interest," Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-Laurens, said.

Most of the Republicans mentioned concerns about Obama overstepping his authority and how the president should allow construction of the Keystone oil pipeline to boost the economy.

“President Obama has repeatedly said he wants to get people back to work, but his energy policies have blocked the addition of hundreds of thousands of American jobs," Rep. Tom Rice, R-Myrtle Beach, said.

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-Springdale, said the address was "anything but optimistic," especially suggestions that he might boost the federal minimum wage without Congress.

On that issue, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land, tweeted during the address: "Taking steps without legislation? Why would any Member of Congress applaud that line? The President just told them that they don’t matter"

Mulvaney also questioned Obama's proposal for a government retirement program in another tweet: "No risk but great return. Wow! Did they teach economics at Harvard? & does the Fed know about this?"

Sen. Tim Scott, R-North Charleston, said all heard was "prescriptions for ‘big government to the rescue.’ ... I will work with anyone else committed to building a better future to develop bold ideas that break away from our past failures."

Even Republican Gov. Nikki Haley joined the chorus in a Facebook post during the address: "Mr. President, you can't legislate success by telling companies how to run their businesses."

More on the S.C. congressional delegation's reaction in The Buzz.

Graham's take: 'The world is literally about to blow up'

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, disagreed with the president's view on Iran in the State of the State address, according to a report from Roll Call.

“The world is literally about to blow up,” Graham said.

Obama pledged to veto any additional sanctions legislation while negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program are ongoing.

“The world as I know was not remotely described by the president. Syria is a contagion,” Graham said.

... “I hope he will leave a residual force in Afghanistan [so] they can do the job, because if he doesn’t, it will fall apart at a faster pace than Iraq,” Graham said, referring to keeping a support force past 2014.

Kudos for Michelle Obama's guest from Charleston

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-Charleston, said he agreed with some themes of the State of the Union address including helping workers prepare for retirement. But he was unhappy President Obama "paid lip service" to the fiscal problems caused by entitlement programs.

Former governor also gave a shout out to a guest of the First Lady at the address.

"I was also glad to see that the president invited a Charleston resident to tonight’s address," Sanford said of the guest of First Lady Michelle Obama. "As a single mother who worked full-time while getting her education, Sabrina Simone Jenkins exemplifies the hard-working spirit of South Carolinians, and she deserves real credit for the way she has overcome obstacles."

More on Jenkins' story from The (Charleston) Post and Courier.

Who got Palmetto pols' SOTU tickets

Most members of South Carolina's congressional delegation invited relatives to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, though a few gave away their tickets.

Sen. Tim Scott brought an advocate for the Medical University of South Carolina.

Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham invited a reality TV star , Korie Robertson of "Duck Dynasty."

Graham announced his pick by tweeting a photo of himself with Korie and her husband, "Duck Dynasty" boss Willie Robertson, before the address.

More on the "Duck Dynasty" couple's Capitol visit from The Washington Post.

Snow day, day 2

Most county offices are closed Wednesday as the brunt of the winter weather breezed over South Carolina. The legislature is out for the week, though some committee meetings on Thursday afternoon have not been canceled -- yet.

The State's Jamie Self spent some time at the S.C. Emergency Management Division command center that opened after Gov. Nikki Haley declared a state of emergency on Tuesday.

Video feed from four traffic cameras and other traffic and weather details flanked the map, depicting the same gray, dreary, slightly wet scenes of light traffic, but no signs of snow as 4 p.m. rolled around.

“A lot of emergency management is this – watching and waiting,” said Mike Russell, Emergency Management’s chief of operations.

And then we have a snowball fight challenge by two state party bigwigs. The Buzz suggests the winner of this battle between the S.C. Democratic party director (Amanda Loveday) and a top GOP political strategist (Wesley Donehue) decides the governor's race.

'A great person. A great legislator. A great man.'

Former State Rep. Herb Kirsh, a Clover Democrat who was for a time the longest-serving legislator in the S.C. General Assembly, died Tuesday night.

From The (Rock Hill) Herald :

Some politicians look the part of movie stars – perfect hair, gleaming teeth and a public image polished to a high sheen.

That wasn’t Herb Kirsh, the heavyset man in the wrinkled sportcoat driving the Lincoln Town Car with the license plate with simply the number “1” on it. This Jewish former store owner drove 95 miles from his home to the Statehouse each legislative day for 32 years to argue against taxes, and fight for the little guy.

... He started his public career in 1970 because he he did not think Clover town leaders were paying attention to how public money was being spent. After serving as a Clover town councilman and mayor, Kirsh took his passion for financial oversight to the Statehouse, where he served District 47 from 1978 until he lost a final bid for re-election to Republican Tommy Pope in 2010.

“There is only one Herb Kirsh, and there will never be another like him,” state Rep. Gary Simrill, R-Rock Hill, said just hours before Kirsh died. He served with Kirsh for 18 years. “A great person. A great legislator. A great man.”

Gov. Nikki Haley, who served with Kirsh as a lawmaker, issued a statement: "He was always one of the most knowledgeable legislators, especially when it came to the state budget. Most importantly, he was respected by both sides of the aisle as someone who had a great love for South Carolina and her people. He will be missed.”

Former Gov. David Beasley posted a message on his Facebook page.

No small potatoes -- farm fight over but not the war over water

The fight over plans for a large Aiken County potato farm to draw large amounts of water from the Edisto River might have ended but lawmakers have questions to answer, The State's Sammy Fretwell reports :

In settling a lawsuit with a Michigan agribusiness, a non-profit group persuaded the company not to draw as much water from the Edisto River basin as the business once planned for irrigation at a sprawling potato farm.

But Tuesday’s agreement between Friends of the Edisto and Walther Farms doesn’t resolve a larger question before the state Legislature, where a battle is developing over how farms use rivers to irrigate their crops.

A 2010 law largely exempts agriculture from the same rules that industries and other businesses must follow if they want to pull large amounts of water from a river. The law could allow a massive farm to virtually drain a river with little oversight, critics of the statute say.


Andy Patrick diving out of politics: State Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Hilton Head Island, announced he will drop out of the race for state superintendent of education and retire from the State House at the end of his term, citing family concerns. His financial troubles were revealed in court documents that detailed contentious divorce proceedings with his wife. Full story

How the jobless rate could play in governor's race: South Carolina’s unemployment rate dipping below the national rate for the first time since January 2001 will likely become a political rose in the lapel of Gov. Nikki Haley as her re-election campaign against Democrat Vincent Sheheen kicks into high gear. Full story

Tire plant gets rolling: Continental Tire marked the official start of production Wednesday at its new $500 million plant in Sumter, rolling off its first new tires three months ahead of schedule. The plant is projected to employ 1,600 workers and produce eight million tires a year when it reaches full capacity in the next seven years. German officials also alluded to a plan that could bring 10,000 additional jobs and more investment to the state Full story

Why no lock down?: South Carolina State University President Thomas Elzey has sent a video message to students defending the decision not to lock down the campus immediately after a fatal shooting last week. Full story

Who's at Connor's wheel: U.S. senate candidate Bill Connor announced a statewide steering committee on Tuesday. Full story

Who might run for Barfield's seat: At least one candidate expressed interest in State Rep. Liston Barfield's Horry County seat now that the Republican in retiring. Full story

Nation's most-well mannered city? Well then: The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore kneed a would-be live-shot crasher in Charleston during storm coverage. Full story

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