The Buzz

Gov. Nikki Haley updates website to call out foes

Gov. Nikki Haley chats at the S.C. Republican Silver Elephant dinner at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center last week.
Gov. Nikki Haley chats at the S.C. Republican Silver Elephant dinner at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center last week. jblake@thestate.com

Gov. Nikki Haley stepped up her attacks Thursday on lawmakers, including fellow Republicans, who failed to back her legislative priorities.

Haley posted seven S.C. House and Senate voting records of lawmakers on four issues on her campaign website.

The move comes after the governor said at the state Republican Convention on Saturday that just 17 of 105 GOP legislators have supported her issues. She added another four lawmakers to her list after the convention, while removing one state senator, Danny Verdin of Laurens.

She suggested Saturday that Republicans should vote out legislators who failed to support a large income-tax cut and ethics reform, and backed giving themselves a pay raise and borrowing up to $500 million for projects statewide.

“Fortunately, we have had fighters standing with us on tax reform, ethics reform, debt, and legislative pay raises. They deserve praise,” she wrote on her campaign website. “But we have also seen some legislators vote the wrong way or even walk away from taking votes on tough issues. And you deserve to know that, too.”

Haley also sent email blasts to the districts of lawmakers on her supporter’s list on Thursday.

“They have resisted the trend in Columbia to raise taxes, increase debt, and give legislators pay raises,” she wrote.

Some lawmakers said the governor’s speeches and online messages about who backs her will not win over the General Assembly.

“She’s not improving her chances for getting additional votes for the legislation she cares about,” said House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister, a Greenville Republican who was not on Haley’s list. “It is difficult to compromise with someone who says, ‘I have a position and it’s not going to change.’ ”

Bannister said he was surprised that Haley excluded some Republican allies who have voted with the governor nine times out of 10, notably Reps. Ralph Norman of York and Nathan Ballentine of Lexington, from the her list.

Haley’s relationships with House leaders have become strained.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brian White, an Anderson Republican was not on the governor’s list, said he has not spoken with governor about a legislative matter since the day after her State of the State address in January. Haley took White to task at February news conference over a $500 million bond bill that his budget committee passed.

“I just think we as a Legislature have things we need to take care of in the state and I’m not going to get down in the weeds with her ... and get into name calling,” White said.

Her website makeover is the latest criticism Haley, a former GOP state representative from Lexington, has leveled at lawmakers since taking office in 2011. But she has stepped up those barbs against the Republican-dominated General Assembly this session.

The governor has criticized lawmakers while speaking to business groups around the state this year, suggesting she will try to use her influence in elections next year when all House and Senate seats are on the ballot. Haley campaigned for some state lawmakers and challengers in 2012 with mixed success.

The fights have spilled over into South Carolina’s pitch to win Volvo’s first U.S. plant. Georgia is other main competitor for the 4,000-job, $500 million plant.

Some lawmakers have questioned why the governor wants to borrow up to $125 million to lure the automaker to Berkeley County but not to pay for other work needed around the state, such as National Guard armories.

Criticizing fellow Republicans is nothing new for Haley.

She issued legislative report cards based on backing her priorities after the 2011 session. That same year the Republican head of the Senate successfully sued to stopped Haley from recalling the Legislature into a special session to take up a government restructuring bill.

Haley told The State last year that she was angry in her first year in office after a rough gubernatorial election.

After the 2011, however, Haley compromised more and won backing for a government restructuring bill that had languished for years and a new set of education programs that required extra funding.

But after handily winning re-election last year by nearly 15 percentage points, Haley returned with a combative tone toward lawmakers.

She gave them little notice before unveiling a roads funding plan during her State of the State address and went after legislators on her Facebook page who did not back her plan for a large income tax cut to offset a state gas-tax hike.

Her campaign website advocated her roads funding plan before Thursday’s switch over.

The criticism on social media has continued as lawmakers failed to pass ethics reform proposals and announced plans to borrow up to $500 million to pay for state college building projects and economic-development work.

Relations soured further after Haley told a group of S.C. Realtors in March that they needed to take a “good shower” after visiting the State House, a comment rebuked by lawmakers.

House Speaker Jay Lucas, a Darlington Republican who hoped for an improved relationship with the governor this session, took to the floor and said Haley's “middle school” comments threaten to “poison the well.”

Haley backers

The 20 Republican lawmakers — 11 senators and nine representatives — who Gov. Nikki Haley said have voted consistently on issues that she backs:

Rep. Todd Atwater (Lexington)

Rep. Eric Bedingfield (Greenville)

Sen. Sean Bennett (Dorchester)

Sen. Chip Campsen (Charleston)

Rep. Bill Chumley (Spartanburg)

Rep. Neal Collins (Pickens)

Sen. Tom Davis (Beaufort)

Sen. Mike Fair (Greenville)

Rep. Dan Hamilton (Greenville)

Sen. Greg Hembree (Horry)

Rep. Chip Huggins (Lexington)

Rep. Debroah Long (Lancaster)

Sen. Larry Martin (Pickens)

Sen. Shane Massey (Edgefield)

Sen. Harvey Peeler (Cherokee)

Rep. Rick Quinn (Lexington)

Rep. Tommy Stringer (Greenville)

Sen. Paul Thurmond (Charleston)

Sen. Ross Turner (Greenville)

Sen. Tom Young (Aiken)

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