For the first time in this mid-term election cycle, South Carolina politics suddenly got interesting. The state’s just been politically “Ervinized.” But, first, a little background.
Make no mistake, ‘trounce’ will still be the South Carolina post-election catchphrase of the day come November 4th as most Republicans in this pitifully right-wing state will take measure of their massively outspent Democratic opponents by easy double-digits. These feelings of dominance and invincibility may be tempered however, by one race that seemed to be a walkover that is no longer a walkover.
You all know the back story of the South Carolina governor’s race. The current governor, Nikki Haley, an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) puppet, wants to continue the states abysmally low rankings in almost every social and practical category of meaning. As I’ve written many times before, in a highly competitive field, Haley is, based on these rankings alone, the nation’s most inept governor. But, in the Palmetto state all that’s required of a governor is hate.
In its hatred of the federal government, the state has sacrificed hundreds of millions for vital educational and health programs. Nonetheless, hating the feds is an imperative, as is deep-seated racism as reflected in Haley’s abhorrence of “Obamacare”, not to mention Obama, himself. Let’s not forget hatred of gays. “It don’ make no difference what them liberal judges say, we ain’t lettin’ no gays git married in South Carolina.”
And unions? Don’t even get Haley started on unions. She’s already publicly pledged to block every attempt to unionize in the state. As quoted, “Union jobs aren’t welcome here.” Jobs that are welcome are those pieces of workplace pathos offered by greedy multi-nationals that are descending on the state like a massive swarm of locusts. Jobs that are assured to be non-union lest these companies have to pay living wages, guarantee safe working conditions and decent hours.
When not selecting South Carolina, the corporate biggies might actually have to pay taxes on U.S. profits in the U.S. instead of merging with some low-tax overseas corporate outfit of questionable character to create a phony “headquarters” to avoid American taxes.
Then there’s Haley’s arrogant disdain of human life in refusing to expand Medicaid to a certain group of low-wage earners. A move that is not only heartless, but will kill people. A Harvard study estimates as many as 1,300 annually in South Carolina alone. What kind of governor doesn’t care about killing people? We should throw her ‘hatred’ of environmental regulations into the mix. Regulations that minimize and control chemical releases that kill who knows how many of her fellow citizens.
This is not only a worthless, unfeeling governor; this is a worthless, unfeeling human being. And yet she commands comfortable double-digit leads in virtually every legitimate poll over her holdover opponent from her last gubernatorial run, State Senator, Vincent Sheheen.
Back to Ervinized and why that recent phenomenon is suddenly creating a modest opening for Sheheen in the governor’s race. Those who have followed this race are aware that there are five candidates. The two major parties, Independent Republican petition candidate, Tom Ervin and two political ciphers. The latter two are meaningless in terms of the outcome. Ervin is definitely meaningful, especially in light of recent developments. Tom Ervin is a 62-year-old former two-term state house member as a Democrat and a 14-year circuit court judge who currently practices law with his wife. He is philosophically still a moderate Democrat, though a few years ago, he declared himself a Republican to run for a couple of offices he craved. He lost both elections, but remained a Republican. Given that Haley won the Republican primary, Ervin was, by law, forced to run as an Independent in the general election.
He was a very effective candidate, giving both the major party candidates a dressing down on assorted issues. He was especially hard on Haley. His presence created vote switching that one would think would benefit Sheheen, the Democrat. As indicated earlier, while Ervin gained supporters, Sheheen lost them and Haley made a big move.
Now, all that could change. The ball, as they say, is squarely in Sheheen’s court. Ervin, who funded his own campaign to the tune of $4 million, suddenly dropped out of the race freeing roughly 8-10% of the total vote. I guess he felt he had made enough of an impression on the electorate and fully realized that, while certainly influential, he stood no chance of winning. One of his first post-dropout steps was to email an expression of strong support to Sheheen contributors under the Sheheen letterhead. The obvious question is, what difference will it make? Won’t Republican Ervin votes simply find a home in the Haley camp?
Maybe, but, as in TV reality shows, there’s a twist. Ervin has officially endorsed Sheheen. Some voters are now going to take a close look at why. In a local phone interview with reporter Jason Spencer, Ervin made the following statement, “It was a difficult decision, but I felt like it was time to put aside my personal ambition and try to do what’s best for our state.” Gee, what a novel approach to public service.
And Ervin has spelled out three reasons that it makes more sense to vote for the Democratic State Senator. According to the local press, those reasons are, ethics reform, domestic violence and economic development. He actually used the word “dishonest” in condemning Haley’s leadership on the issues.
The Haley camp provided a predictably snarky response that, of course, involved no substance whatsoever nor did it address Ervin’s concerns. Instead, deputy campaign manager Rob Godfrey, released the following statement, designed to push all the right-wing voter buttons. “Tom Ervin, Vince Sheheen and their LIBERAL TRIAL LAWYER CRONIES have always had the same agenda in this campaign. They have spent millions on false and shameful attacks and gotten nowhere with South Carolina voters. It’s no surprise that two PRO-OBAMACARE TRIAL LAWYERS would officially tie the knot at the end of the race.”
Not a peep about ethics reform, domestic violence and economic development.
Interesting response, but it will only be swallowed whole by those who are already in the Haley camp. Reasonable voters from both parties are going to wonder why there’s no rebuttal to Ervin’s issue concerns. They may even (GASP) do some research. I happened to talk with a state representative friend of mine today and consensus among his colleagues is that Ervin supporters are not happy with the move. Ergo, they may show their displeasure by simply staying home. Bottom line, who does that benefit?
I still expect Sheheen to lose, but by a narrower margin than I had earlier predicted. What does change is that, unlike Sheheen’s earlier predicament, there is an outside chance of an upset, unlikely, but not impossible when you add a majority of the 12% undecided vote. So thank you Mr. Legislator, judge, trial lawyer and straight talker, you just made things a lot more interesting.
In one race, at least.
BTW Democrats, please vote November 4th.
Raised rural & small town, then lived in N.Y., Chicago & LA. Widely traveled. Returned from world wandering to pursue media life of anchorman/reporter and major, medium and small market talk radio. Highly active in politics. Once worked as orderly & security in Mens Lock Ward for the Criminally Insane at a state institution. Much more rational population than current Teapublicans. Great concern for country run by and for the extreme wealthy. The inhumane current running through this country has no precedent in modern history.
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