Two gay-rights advocacy groups -- one armed with social media and the other with money -- have found cause for campaigns in the Palmetto State.
Charleston members of Southerners on New Ground, a social justice group consisting mostly of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, launched a Tumblr blog called "Homo Sweet Homo" last week.
The blog shows pictures of people holding signs meant to "shame" state Rep. Garry Smith, R-Greenville, and a House higher-education budget panel for voting to cut $70,000 to the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate for having freshmen read gay-themed books.
Someone posted a petition to the blog urging lawmakers to rethink the funding cuts.
But while the activists are relying on social media to spread their message, Southerners for the Freedom to Marry -- co-chaired by U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia -- is about to dump $1 million into a southern television ad campaign starting Monday.
The campaign's aim is to attract public support for same-sex marriage as several court challenges to states' gay-marriage bans advance. Those cases include one in Columbia. S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley and Attorney General Alan Wilson are fighting the lawsuit.
Gov. Nikki Haley's public schedule today
Haley will visit President Barack Obama with fellow governors at 10 a.m. at The White House. She will participate in a 1:15 p.m. Republicans Governors Association news conference with Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana (the group's vice chairman), Bill Haslam, Tennessee and Rick Perry of Texas. Jindal, who is leading the group with chairman Chris Christie back in New Jersey, is expected to ask the president at The White House meeting to use his executive authority to ease regulations that could create jobs.
Gov.Nikki Haley and her husband, Michael, head to a White House dinner on Sunday night.
Spearman's in and that makes 10
Molly Spearman, executive director of the S.C. Association of School Administrators, officially will jump in the race for state Superintendent of Education today, she told The Buzz.
And Spearman will bring with her about $30,000 in contributions she's raised quietly before making her bid public for the GOP nomination, she said.
Spearman's entry in the race widens the field to ten candidates seeking the seat, eight Republicans and two Democrats. Republican state schools' chief Mick Zais is not running for re-election.
Why is the race so popular?
One reason: it's wide open with no clear front-runner yet, said Joel Sawyer, a Push Digital political strategist and former spokesman for Gov. Mark Sanford.
"As much as I'd love to believe it has something to do with education...people get into races that they think they can win," he said.
Other Republicans running are Sally Atwater, former school teacher and widow to GOP operative Lee Atwater; Gary Burgess, Anderson County Board of Education member; Meka Childs, former S.C. Department of Education deputy superintendent; Amy Cofield, a Lexington attorney; Sheri Few, a Lugoff Republican activist; Don Jordan, a University of South Carolina math and science professor; and Elizabeth Moffly, a Charleston County School Board member.
State Rep. Mike Anthony, a retired coach and teacher from Union, and Montrio Belton, a former public school principal and teacher, are running as Democrats.
State House Meetings
9 a.m.: Joint Legislative Committee to Screen Candidates for College and University Boards of Trustees (Gressette Room 209, Agenda)
Quality-of-life issues threaten S.C. bases: Deficiencies in military quality-of-life could put South Carolina's military bases at risk in the next round of base closings and realignments comes up. That could be as soon as next year. While South Carolina leaders consider the state one of the most military friendly, the state has only embraced half of the 10 legislative initiatives that the U.S. Department of Defense uses to measure quality of life for active duty service members, veterans and retirees. Full story
S.C. GOP has grown from a few to a fracturing many: Fracturing within the GOP, reflected in the Tea Party and libertarian activists who are backing Sen. Lindsey Graham’s opponents, may be more a sign of the majority party’s entrenchment than of a major political shift, observers say. The S.C. Democratic Party endured the same fracturing before the GOP took root. S.C. Democratic Gov. Strom Thurmond signaled the start of the shift to the GOP, when he ran for president as a “Dixiecrat” states’ rights segregationist in 1948. Thurmond’s eventual conversion to the Republican Party in 1964 was one of the key turning points in the rise of the S.C. GOP. What grew from there is a deeply entrenched Republican Party. Full story
Duke Energy coal ash concerns flank the state border: Water is seeping through a coal ash dam in the foothills of South Carolina, raising concerns about the structure’s stability and whether a failure would contaminate the Saluda River. But the seepage at Duke Energy’s power plant in Anderson County has gone largely unnoticed as environmental groups and federal prosecutors focus much of their attention on the company’s troubles in North Carolina. Full story
State House Clicks
Anti-smoking groups press lawmakers for more money: Tobacco companies paid South Carolina $68 million last year, but the state spent most of the money on the state’s Medicaid program to help offset the rising cost of health care brought on, in part, by tobacco use. Anti-smoking groups are upset, saying some of that money should be used on prevention programs. The state expects to receive $3.2 billion from the $200 billion Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, the 1998 court settlement of an anti-smoking lawsuit that 46 states, including South Carolina, filed against the tobacco industry. Full story
SLED revokes CWP licenses for mental-health issues: The State Law Enforcement Division has revoked 65 concealed weapons permits since October – and denied another 12 applications – because of mental-health issues. Background checks have thwarted 55 attempts in South Carolina to buy guns by people with mental-heath issues – 49 by in-state residents and six by out-of-state visitors. Last year, the federal Justice Department gave SLED nearly $1 million to improve its background checks. Lawmakers passed a law that would share the state's mental-health information with federal authorities to improve background checks. Full story
State caps on solar power hindering production: Limits on solar power production enacted in state law are hindering what nonprofits and industry solar power generators could be producing, they say. Full story
S.C. higher ed money to focus on jobs: In asking for state support, some leaders of the state's public colleges and universities are focusing their pitches on how their programs will improve the economy. Full story
How goes Hillary 2.0: A largely black crowd of about 100 showed up last week in Columbia to hear about the Ready for Hillary shadow presidential campaign for the former Secretary of State. They didn’t pack the house, but one organizer was pleasing saying, “There is no other candidate that can do this right now. Nobody else in the field can get people excited about the possibility of them running.” Full story
South Carolina's early primary favorites: Although the state's presidential primaries still are two years away, party leaders from across the state already have an idea of who their favorites might be. Full story
The changing view on immigration in SC: The politics of immigration are gradually shifting in South Carolina and some other Southern states, where not long ago most conservatives passionately rejected legalization as amnesty that rewarded lawbreakers. Like U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a number of Republicans are moving toward the view that the immigration system needs fixing, and that 11.7 million illegal immigrants will not be deported and need a path to legal status. Full story
"Lived the...American Dream"U.S. Sens. Tim Scott, R-Charleston, and Corey Booker, D-New Jersey, penned two pieces for CNN in conjunction with Black History Month. Scott says he has "lived the power of the American Dream" growing up in poverty with a single mother, and touts his Opportunity Agenda -- a series of school choice and workforce development proposals -- as ways to move forward. He criticizes an "over-involved federal government" for hurting workers and job seekers. "Opportunity knocks for all of us at some point. My hope is that Washington doesn't get in the way of folks answering." Full story
Riding with the Swamp Fox: A new historical marker in Scranton commemorates the life of Joshua Braveboy, a revolutionary war hero and freeman of Native American, African American and Caucasian descent who moved to South Carolina in 1771. When colonial forces took up arms against the British, Braveboy rode with a horse militia that eventually commanded by the Swamp Fox, General Francis Marion. On Sunday, more than 40 people gathered near where he was thought to have had property to honor Braveboy. Full story
Wofford dog makes "60 Minutes": Wofford College psychology professor, John Pilley, got a visit from Anderson Cooper Sunday who wanted to interview Pilley about his border collie, Chaser, for a "60 Minutes" segment. Chaser is thought to have the largest known vocabulary of any dog. Chaser understands the names of more than 1,000 objects. Full story
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