The Buzz

June 28, 2014

The Buzz: The USC trophy you won’t see, and the chill between Nikki and Mark

No Gamecock-Texas A&M trophy for a complicated hero, the child between Nikki and Mark, and South Carolina’s fall election races ranked.

The Buzz

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

As the University of South Carolina begins annual football games against Texas A&M this season, the schools plan to vie for a some sort of trophy.

The Buzz understands William Travis, a Saluda County native who commanded Texas forces at the Alamo when that San Antonio fort was attacked by Mexican forces in 1836, was suggested as the namesake for a trophy to be given to the game’s winner.

Travis’ “Victory or Death” letter – “I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country” – made him an iconic hero of the Texas revolution. But Travis also worked to secure runaway slaves in a region that banned slavery under Mexican rule, according to the Alamo’s website. (The account of the Battle of the Alamo from Travis’ slave became the basis for common Alamo stories, the site says.)

USC president Harris Pastides said a Travis trophy was a no-go after Texas A&M’s president approached him about the idea of sharing a piece of hardware.

“I’m not endorsing that particular idea,” Pastides told The Buzz. “I heard, around the edges, he’s not the right guy.”

Gamecocks athletics director Ray Tanner started a small “coughing” fit when asked about adding Travis to the Hardee’s Trophy – USC vs. Clemson winner – and the Mayor’s Cup — USC vs. Missouri winner.

What the Gamecocks-Aggies trophy could look like remains under discussion, Pastides and Tanner said.

What about a model of Texas Gov. Rick Perry?

The A&M grad and 2016 GOP presidential prospect spends a lot of time in South Carolina these days. (He has a pair of events this week in Summerville with Gov. Nikki Haley and Indian Land with U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney.)

The Buzz notes the two states also share a barbecue heritage.

A trophy of chopped pork, two sides and a biscuit? A pig on a spit?

(Just don’t tell the animal-rights crowd.)

‘Something you never forget — ingratitude’

A story in Sunday’s New York Times magazine shows the chill in the relationship between Haley and her one-time mentor – former governor and now congressman (again) Mark Sanford.

In 2010, Sanford says Haley, then a cash-strapped, back-bench state representative in last place among four GOP gubernatorial hopefuls, came to the governor’s office to ask him to donate “several hundred thousand dollars” for a pro-Haley ad campaign. Sanford declined.

“My gut is, ‘No, you don’t give somebody that kind of money,’” Sanford told The Times.

Sanford gave in, however, because the disclosure of his affair with Maria Belen Chapur hindered his previous promises to otherwise aid Haley.

The ads a pro-Sanford group subsequently bought to promote Haley helped her candidacy, but she did not give the former governor credit in her autobiography and never thanked him personally. “He’s still upset by it. That’s something you never forget — ingratitude,” Camden attorney John Rainey, a Sanford backer and Haley critic, told The Times.

Haley — who seeks advice on occasion from Sanford’s ex, Jenny — also stung the former governor by declining his requests for one of her USC football tickets for his oldest son to use, and to allow one of his sons and a couple of friends to “have an al fresco meal on the grounds of the (governor’s) mansion, his childhood home.”

The relationship between the governors did thaw, though, for a short time.

Haley headlined a private Charleston fundraiser for Sanford when he ran for Congress last year.

There is no word on whether Sanford is returning the favor for Haley’s re-election bid.

S.C.’s fall races ranked

With the June primaries in the books, The Buzz ranks South Carolina’s most intriguing fall races:

1. Haley-Sheheen II

Will the sequel be better between Republican Haley of Lexington and state Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden?

Well, the tone has not changed. They got early jumps on throwing punches – her side’s bad-lawyer ads and his side’s fussing over who is on the state plane and car.

Haley should have more backing from Republicans after a fractured GOP 2010 primary. Sheheen has been promised outside help by Dem leadership.

But they have a third-wheel this time around. Petition candidate Tom Ervin, a self-proclaimed “independent Republican” from Greenville could siphon votes – possibly from both sides – with his self-financed bid.

2. One last time for No. 2

State party icons a generation apart face off in the final standalone election for lieutenant governor.

Henry McMaster, former S.C. Republican Party chairman and S.C. attorney general, was wrapping up his stint as U.S. attorney under President Ronald Reagan when Bakari Sellers, a Democratic state representative who helped Barack Obama win the 2008 S.C. primary, was born.

Sellers already is poking fun at the number of statewide races McMaster has run. (Six if you’re counting). Look for McMaster to press Sellers’ ties to the president – a not-so-popular figure in Palmetto land.

3. The state’s two U.S. Senate races

3a. A first in quite a while

Republican U.S. Tim Scott of Charleston is a heavy favorite to keep his seat over Democratic Richland County councilwoman Joyce Dickerson. But history wins either way. Either one will become the first African American elected statewide in South Carolina since Reconstruction. (Scott was appointed to fill Jim DeMint’s unexpired Senate term in 2013, setting the stage for the state to have an oddity this year – two U.S. Senate races.) The significance of the Dickerson-Scott race in state history gets the nod over South Carolina’s other U.S. Senate battle ...

3b. The other one

... which may not be as much fun to watch as its GOP primary. Incumbent Lindsey Graham, fresh off thumping six Republican foes in one night, is expected to dispatch state Sen. Brad Hutto of Orangeburg. Hutto stood up for his party’s nomination so Democrats could avoid having Jay Stamper, a potential Alvin Greene-esque candidate, as their nominee. (The race also gives Hutto a chance to rehearse a possible 2018 bid for governor). Still, Hutto, one of the Democrats’ leading voices in the Legislature, should be a more interesting – and better funded – GOP foil than Dickerson. Former Republican state Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, the drug felon turned “Southern Charm” reality TV star, also could add spice to the race if the Charlestonian enters as a petition candidate.

4-7. Any reason why Columbia won’t continue to see red next year?

Three of the four remaining statewide races have Republican incumbents already in the seats:

•  Attorney general – incumbent Alan Wilson vs. Democrat Parnell Diggs
•  Comptroller general – incumbent Richard Eckstrom vs. Democrat Kyle Herbert
•  Secretary of state – incumbent Mark Hammond vs. Democrat Ginny Deerin

The fourth race has a Republican who could garner some Democratic support. Molly Spearman of Saluda in running for superintendent of education against Democrat Tom Thompson of Forest Acres.

The bottom line?

When he leaves office in January, Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill, D-Williamsburg, could be the last of the blue crew in statewide office for some time. McGill volunteered for that temporary job earlier this month.

Reach Shain at (803) 771-8619.

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