THE CAMPAIGNING is over, and now it’s the voters’ turn. Here’s a review of our endorsements in today’s election:
Governor. Democratic Sen. Vincent Sheheen is smart and studied and dependable and honest, a man of integrity and sincerity, whose word can be trusted. He understands that our state is only as strong as its weakest link, and he has built an impressive record of success in the Legislature, because he works across political lines to engage our most daunting problems. He has spent years coming up with real solutions to the pathologies that prevent South Carolina from reaching its potential.
Lieutenant governor. Republican Henry McMaster and Democratic Rep. Bakari Sellers are both head and shoulders above any candidate who has sought the office in more elections than we can recall. But while Mr. Sellers might be ready to take over as governor if necessary, Mr. McMaster is ready. He compiled an impressive record as attorney general, where he demonstrated political courage, independence and the ability to bring people together to work collaboratively toward creative solutions to difficult problems.
Attorney general. If the only thing Republican Alan Wilson had done in four years as attorney general was refuse to crumble under pressure to drop his corruption investigation of House Speaker Bobby Harrell, that would be reason enough to re-elect him. But in case after case, he has shown himself to be a tough-minded prosecutor. And he has demonstrated that he’s not just spouting political jargon when he says that “if I pick and choose which law to enforce, I create anarchy, and the attorney general’s job is to create stability.”
Education superintendent. Republican Molly Spearman supports the smartest reforms from across the political system, and unlike her opponent, she recognizes that the governor needs to appoint the education superintendent. She sees where we need to transform public education and where we need to tweak it, and she has the ability and relationships to turn that knowledge into a plan and build the public support to make it happen.
S.C. House District 75. Republican Rep. Kirkman Finlay and Democratic challenger Joe McCulloch are both smart, capable, mainstream candidates. But Rep. Finlay’s support of legislation to give legislators a free pass on some ethics violations and to strip the attorney general of his power to prosecute legislators was deeply troubling, and Mr. McCulloch has a much more complete vision on how to improve public education and protect our environment and tackle a number of other tough issues.
S.C. House District 69. Republican Rep. Rick Quinn has played a significant role not only on helping to stop protectionist ethics proposals but also in pushing through the most significant anti-drunken-driving law in a decade, requiring ignition-interlock devices for drivers with more than one DUI conviction. And he has a long history of working across party lines on ambitious tax-overhaul proposals.
S.C. House District 87. Republican Todd Atwater recognizes that our Legislature hoards power that should belong to the governor and to local government. He also recognizes the need for much more substantive debate than he has seen in the House, a reflection of his respect for the necessity of compromise. He is the sort of smart, articulate and savvy representative we need more of in the Legislature.
S.C. House District 78. Freshman Democratic Rep. Beth Bernstein was one of a small group of House members who worked to clean up the mess after allies of convicted former Speaker Bobby Harrell put forward proposals that could have made it more difficult for prosecutors to bring charges against the speaker — and given a pass to other legislators accused of criminal wrongdoing. Hers will be an important voice in next year’s ethics debate.
U.S. Senate full term. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham’s foreign policy is grounded in a well-considered world view instead of partisanship, so he serves as loyal opposition and as a marker, to help people sort out criticism that often has more to do with party than policy. More importantly, he is among the dwindling handful of federal politicians who understand that we must preserve the sensible center, and who have rejected the suicidal notion that it’s better to be “right” than to accomplish anything.
U.S. Senate unexpired term. Republican Sen. Tim Scott is an incurable optimist, a walking American Dream, a person who sees it as “our responsibility to inspire and encourage,” and there’s a lot to be said for that. And despite his extremely high ratings by conservative groups and extremely low ratings by liberal groups, Sen. Scott says he believes that it is “important to find common ground where you can and when you can.”
Constitutional Amendment 2 would end South Carolina’s status as the only state in the nation, and the only government in the free world, that elects its military leader. A “yes” vote would allow the governor to appoint the adjutant general. And a law that will take effect if voters approve the change restricts the governor’s choice to active members of the National Guard who graduated from a graduate-level military institute, have significant command experience and are qualified to hold a federally recognized post of general.