Politics & Government

Which candidate can Trump the others in SC’s 5th District?

As Republicans head to the polls in this spring’s special election for the 5th District’s U.S. House seat, some of them might be asking one question. What would Trump do?

The new president carried the district by nearly 20 points last November, comparable to the margin of victory for 5th District U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land, over Democratic challenger Fran Person.

Now that Trump has named Mulvaney as his budget director, Republicans running to replace him are doing what they can to appeal to Trump’s voters.

▪ Sheri Few of Lugoff, who previously campaigned against Common Core education standards, has adopted Trump-like language, calling refugee resettlement a “multi-billion-dollar-a-year taxpayer-ripoff boondoggle” and using the slogan “make America America again.”

▪ Chad Connelly of Newberry, a former S.C. party chairman and national party official who is running on a term-limits pledge, has cited Trump’s success as proof voters favor an outsider who hasn’t held elected office before.

▪ Ralph Norman, a former Rock Hill state representative who owns a real estate development firm, can point to a business background similar to that of the mogul president. “I want to apply my practical experience in business to help President Trump and the conservative members of Congress fix what is broken in Washington,” Norman said, announcing his campaign.

▪ Tommy Pope said that "In Congress, I'll work with the Trump administration and Mick to fix America's finances, stop spending money we don't have, and provide our military with the resources they need to keep us safe."

▪ Tom Mullikin, a Camden attorney who said he wants to be on Trump’s “team” in Congress, went so far as to grab a photo with the president during a trip to Mar-a-Lago on the same weekend that Trump hosted the Japanese prime minister at his Florida club. Mullikin called the president a “gracious host.”

Not everyone in the race is staking out Trump territory.

Kris Wampler, an Indian Land attorney, said Trump’s immigration-enforcement policies will put too much of a strain on the federal budget.

“We now know that taxpayer dollars are going to be used to build a massive wall, which will explode the national debt and budget deficit,” Wampler wrote on his website. “It will take a virtual police state of surveillance and agents to police the wall and deport illegal immigrants.”

Voters will make their choice on May 2, when the GOP primary is held.

Senate votes to end lieutenant governor’s role

State senators voted Wednesday to ensure the drama over whether or not the Senate president pro tempore will step aside or become the state’s lieutenant governor won’t happen again.

After the confusion earlier this year – over whether new Gov. Henry McMaster could appoint his lieutenant governor or state Sen. Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, would follow the state Constitution and take the job – the Senate approved a sweeping reform of the lieutenant governor’s role.

In 2018, candidates for governor will name their own running mates for the state’s No. 2 job. The winner will leave the Senate chamber, where the lieutenant governor has chaired the upper body as its president, and become part of the Governor’s Office and the president pro tempore – now Leatherman – will become the Senate president.

If the lieutenant governor’s office becomes vacant again, Leatherman and his successors can rest easy; the governor will appoint a replacement.

The changes come after a 2014 constitutional amendment ended the direct election of the lieutenant governor in favor of the “ticket” system, allowing candidates for governor to pick their running mate-lieutenant governors and run with them.

The measure was approved 41-0 Wednesday in the Senate. The bill now goes to the House.

Bill requires health plans cover year’s worth of birth control

S.C. legislators introduced a bill Tuesday to make it easier for women to fill their birth-control prescriptions.

A bill – sponsored by Beth Bernstein, D-Richland, and Kirkman Finlay, R-Richland – would require insurance plans to cover a 12-month supply of prescribed self-administered contraceptives.

H.3809 would allow women to fill a full year’s order for contraceptives, including the ring, the patch and oral pills.

Currently, most women must refill their birth-control prescriptions each month. That can prove burdensome for women who lack transportation, live in rural areas, move frequently or struggle to balance hectic schedules, according to the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network.

One in four women says they have missed birth-control pills because they couldn’t get the next pack in time, thereby increasing their risk of unintended pregnancy, according to the network. Studies show women who receive a year’s supply of contraception were 30 percent less likely to have an unintended pregnancy.

The bill also is sponsored by Reps. Kit Spires, R-Lexington, Neal Collins, R-Pickens, James Smith, D-Richland, and Robert Ridgeway, D-Clarendon.

Sharpton jokes McMaster will ‘choke’ him at Neal funeral

The Rev. Al Sharpton poked fun at Gov. McMaster while eulogizing state Rep. Joe Neal Monday.

The New York civil rights activist and CNN commentator told the crowd of more than 2,000 that he had just come from a State House protest where some speakers were critical of McMaster, a Richland Republican and early supporter of President Trump.

“I remember a couple of years ago, I was here for funerals in Charleston, and the governor at that time, who we had disagreed (with), she got up and hugged me,” Sharpton said, referring to former Gov. Nikki Haley, who attended funerals for the victims of the June 2015 Emanuel AME church massacre.

“After they hear what I said at the state Capitol today, I don’t know Gov. McMaster, if you will hug me or choke me,” Sharpton continued, triggering a roar of laughter. “But we’re all right, out of respect to Joe, for the rest of the service.”

McMaster took the joke in stride. A video screen at the funeral showed him laughing alongside other state lawmakers.

Avery Wilks contributed. Bristow Marchant: 803-771-8405, @bristowathome, @buzzatthestate