Politics & Government

Sheheen picks up endorsements from lawmakers

Sen. Vincent Sheheen, a Kershaw County Democrat running for governor, announced endorsements today from more than 60 percent of Democratic state representatives and more than 50 percent of Democratic state senators.

"It is time to get South Carolina moving again," Sheheen, flanked by supporters, said Thursday at a news conference at the State House.

Among the Midlands lawmakers supporting Sheheen are:

Richland Rep. Jimmy Bales

Richland Rep. Chris Hart

Richland Rep. Anton Gunn

Kershaw Rep. Laurie Funderburk

Lexington Rep. Walt McLeod

Richland Rep. Todd Rutherford

Richland Rep. James Smith

Richland Sen. Joel Lourie

Sheheen is in a four-candidate race for the Democratic nomination for governor. Columbia attorney and former lobbyist Dwight Drake, Charleston Sen. Robert Ford and State Education Superintendent Jim Rex also are running.

- Gina Smith

Graham, DeMint condemn anti-Barrett ad

U.S. Sens. Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham both released statements Thursday defending U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett's fiscal record after an attack ad claimed Barrett supported the federal stimulus package.

Barrett, R-Oconee, is running for governor. The ad, from a group called Americans for Job Security, began running on television this week and is expected to continue to run for the next two weeks.

"Claiming Gresham was sympathetic to the Obama stimulus plan is not even close to the truth. Like all the Republicans in our delegation, he worked very hard to defeat it," said Graham in a statement.

The group behind the ad favors limited government spending and has sought out lawmakers nationally who they think supported President Obama's $787 billion recovery package.

Barrett did not vote in favor of the stimulus package. Barrett did, however, in 2008 vote in favor of the Bush administration's Troubled Asset Relief Program, which sent billions of tax dollars to banks and Wall Street firms rocked by a sudden dip in the economy. Barrett has been taken to task by conservative groups over that vote.

"An honest debate of policy differences will strengthen the conservative movement, not misleading ads," said DeMint.

- Staff Reports


Legislature overturns Sanford on Fairfield schools

The Senate on Thursday overrode two gubernatorial vetoes dealing with the Fairfield County School Board.

On a 1-0 vote, the Senate defeated Gov. Mark Sanford's veto of a pair of House bills - one that strips the local Fairfield County school board of its financial authority and one that adds two appointed members to the existing seven-member board.

The House overrode the two vetoes earlier in the week.

Rep. Boyd Brown, D-Fairfield, and Sen. Creighton Coleman, D-Fairfield, got the bills passed through the General Assembly. But Sanford vetoed them both, citing laws that prevent the General Assembly from usurping the authority of local governments.

The NAACP said it plans to challenge the law in court, arguing the General Assembly is reversing the will of local voters by stripping the board of its financial authority and remaking the board.

Brown has said the measures are necessary to counter a four-member majority on the board that he says blocks reforms in a district that is struggling both financially and academically. The two lawmakers will now appoint a board to take control of the district's finances.

The S.C. School Boards Association has opposed the bill, arguing lawmakers are violating laws that give locally elected boards the authority to make financial decisions.

- Roddie Burris


South Carolina lawmakers have given initial approval to repealing a 1951 law requiring any group that wants to overthrow the government to register and pay a $5 fee.

A Senate Judiciary panel Thursday approved repealing the McCarthy-era law adopted during the Cold War communist scare.

Sen. Larry Martin says the archaic measure is pointless. The Pickens Republican says bloggers last month spread the misconception that legislators had recently passed the bill, prompting concern from conservative activists and ridicule from others.

Secretary of State Mark Hammond said no one had filed under the law until last month. Nine people and supposed groups have filed in jest. Hammond says one sent in a photocopy of a $5 Confederate bill.

- The Associated Press