I interviewed a South Carolina statewide candidate at about 10:45 Wednesday morning. Her name is Virginia ‘Ginny’ Deerin. She’s challenging multiple-term incumbent Republican, Mark Hammond for Secretary of State and she has no chance of winning. Undeterred, Derrin was about to embark on a 90-mile bike ride from Spartanburg to the state capital of Columbia. She had a sturdy, well-equipped bicycle that had to accommodate not only its rider, but also a cart on wheels being dragged along behind.
What she didn’t have was a scintilla of outside interest in her undertaking. Now, granted, I was 15 minutes away from the target time of 11:00 for liftoff, but there was but one individual other than myself in attendance and that was her sister. No TV crews setting up; no newspaper people with pads and recorders, no local party people, even though we talked about her ride in a leadership meeting the night before. In fairness, South Carolina is a late arrival state. I recently gave a PowerPoint presentation on the American Legislative Exchange Council to the local chapter of the League of Women Voters. Fifteen minutes before that meeting, there were about 3 people milling around. At the scheduled start time, around 30.
So, maybe there will be a relative mob of media, active Democrats and the just plain curious circling Ms. Deerin at the anointed time. I doubt it. I even left early for another appointment. If ever an event was indicative of the South Carolina Democratic Party chances in 2014, it was Ginny’s bike-ride event.
On the other hand, she didn’t seem the least bit phased, answering my questions willingly while preparing for her 90-mile trek; its first miles to be pedaled in unseasonably cool weather. I guess sis was to follow in the white pickup that had carried the cargo from the Deerin home base of Charleston.
As I discovered the morning of the 23rd, I was a little premature in my cynicism of media coverage. The local newspaper did, indeed, give the ride a modicum of above the fold coverage on its local news, section ‘C’ page. There was even a photo of the first leg of the trip. Being a right-wing paper, the heading read, “Protest enters campaign cycle.” There was a second sub-heading featuring Derrin’s opponent. It read, “Hammond calls foe’s bike ride a political stunt.” Most of the article was about Hammond, not Deerin. So, yes, there was some ink, but clearly slanted in favor of the Republican.
The motivation for a woman in her early 60’s gingerly steering her way along a roadway on two wheels, while four-wheeled (or as many as 18) alternate modes of transportation roared by a few feet away at 70 mph is obviously name recognition. I can’t imagine what riding a bike that distance has to do with business filings or public charities.
With her attack on fees and regulations, she’s attracted much love from the wildly right-wing Club for Growth and a long list of the powerful state Republicans, mostly business leaders. Having run a wonderful award-winning non-profit “Wings (for Kids)” and heading Project XX to convince more women to run for office, and being pro-choice, she’s yet another example of a social liberal and a frightened and obedient corporate-serf (h’mmm conserfative). It’s a recurring DINO theme for Democrat candidates for well over a decade that rarely works.
I do like and respect her, however, and plan to join her Project XX group.
On another political front, there was a lively debate Tuesday night featuring Gubernatorial candidates, Republican Governor, Nikki Haley, two-time challenger, Democrat Vincent Sheheen, a self-funding Independent (actually a conservative Republican), Tom Ervin and two third-party add-ons where viewers remember neither their names nor the parties they represent (Independent and United Citizens Party). They’ll pull in a tiny percentage of the vote; combined!
Ervin, largely self-funded into the multiple millions, repeated his no holds barred attack on the governor with his description of the Department of Social Services (DSS) under her stewardship. “She knew when she took office that we had a crisis at DSS. She knew case workers had too many cases assigned to them. And yet, she sent her Cabinet appointee over to the Senate investigative committee and lied about the numbers.” That’s really letting her have it, especially considering his background as a legislator and judge.
Candidate Sheheen called her dishonest about the DSS and described Haley as a political accessory to children’s deaths because of actions or lack thereof of the agency. The agency was variously portrayed as underfunded, overwhelmed, overworked and underpaid. As one candidate put it, “The governor has destroyed DSS.” He said he had never seen more broken bones and fractured skulls.
Haley’s rebuttal was laughable. She said, “This is not an easy agency, I don’t take it lightly.” There were also concerns voiced about her reluctance to support a law to take guns away from people convicted of criminal domestic violence. And this in a state that leads the nation in men killing women.
You could fill the Northeast corner of the Library of Congress with reasons not to vote for Nikki Haley, but a poll commissioned by the relatively moderate Post and Courier newspaper and a couple of media partners, revealed some stunning figures. You should know that the service conducting the polls does an inordinate amount of work for Republicans, so its results could be taken with a grain of sodium. But, if true, their numbers would give Sheheen no chance in the Governor’s race. He supposedly trails Haley by a 51 to 31 count, with the finger-pointing rich guy, Ervin, commanding 11% of the vote. Back in July, the Ervin count was 3%. Most of the eight-point gain has been at the expense of Sheheen, who has also lost traction with independents.
The poll results came in a few days before the latest (of two) debates, so there could be some movement in Sheheen’s favor, but don’t count on it. I’d hazard a final of Haley 53%, Sheheen 42% and Ervin, in the neighborhood of 4%, with the remaining point to the two third party candidates.
Amidst the bad progressive karma, some good news. No matter how horrific the party policies, the Republican stranglehold on South Carolina continues. Enjoy it SC right-wing radicals; it’s your last hurrah.