When asked to characterize the November 4th South Carolina political races, I wrote in an earlier piece, “It ain’t pretty.” It wasn’t pretty! Some view South Carolina as the reddest state in the nation. After November 4th, it just might be. Money, issue ignorance and, in general, incumbency, virtually assured Republican candidates easy victories, most of them by embarrassing margins.
The one (and only) state race that captured national attention was the Governor’s race. State Democratic officials kept up a brave front, knowing a slaughter was on the way. The final count was incumbent Governor Nikki Haley, 57%, two-time challenger, State Senator, Vincent Sheheen, 40%.
As exhaustively repeated on this site, Haley is a terrible governor. You can go to the archives and re-familiarize yourselves with why that’s the case. But she touted increasing job numbers at every campaign stop to rubes working for minimum wages that the state legislature refuses to increase, at anti-union companies that take all their tax money overseas and couldn’t care less how employees are treated. The Rube vote went to Haley, and that’s a lot of votes.
For the record, the ever gracious Sheheen, who couldn’t bring himself to be a really tough campaigner, included these words in thanking his volunteers, “To those who stood by me, and fought with me, to those who knocked doors, made calls, and talked to their neighbors, thank you. You mean the world to Amy and me. You’ll always be part of our family.”
All other state offices were won by Republicans as well, by margins varying from 17 to 22 percent in races where both major parties were represented. There’s possibly a little ray of light here. One of those Republicans is Superintendent of Education, Molly Spearman. She possesses a powerful CV and was once a Democrat. Her opportunistic disloyalty notwithstanding, she does make the Republican power structure highly uncomfortable in fearing that she might possibly back the strengthening of public schools without throwing tax money at private education.
In my local races for the State House, massacres were the order of the day. If you consider 79% to 21% a massacre.
As head of one of the county polling places, I witnessed an interesting reversal of the state allegiance to one party. This precinct had a heavy black vote. All key statewide races went to Democrats. The Democrat Sheheen winning handily over Haley being a prime example. African Americans were most likely key to my polling place defeats of both U.S. Senatorial candidates, Graham and Scott. In this heavily minority precinct, results were flipped. It’s interesting that a vast majority of black voters “get it.” They understand the inequities. They understand that when the governor brags about all the job gains during her tenure, these are, by and large, dead-end subsistence labors, many part-time and seasonal, with no future.
But that was but one precinct. Not nearly enough to prevent South Carolina voters from returning their veteran Senator, Graham to DC with 17-point victory over the Democrat. Tim Scott was appointed by the governor to fill the term of the retiring Senator Jim DeMint. Scott took measure of a dear lady named Joyce Dickerson by a whooping 26%. Both are African-Americans. One is a corporate, bought and paid for, African-American who was an enthusiastic member of the American Legislative Exchange Council as a state legislator. Scott still keeps in touch as his ascension to the Senate comes full ALEC circle with the appointment by ALEC’s Nikki Haley to replace ALEC’s Jim DeMint.
This election was to fill out DeMint’s term. Scott will have to run again in 2016 for the full six years if he so chooses.
Six Republican U.S. house member candidates won in the state, as did the single Democratic Representative, Jim Clyburn, the third most powerful Democrat in the House.
There’s a deep split in South Carolina’s Democratic Party leadership. Lee Walter Jenkins, who ran for state party chair before the appearance of the anointed, DC insider lobbyist, Jamie Harrison, sent out a highly critical mass email of the party handling of this election. Here’s a typical line of the somewhat lengthy missive. “This failed election, as all our elections over the last ten years, is about a lack of strategy and leadership.”
Party chair Harrison was quick to respond. Quoting from his email: “Some of us like to talk yet do very little acting /working/calling/giving. If we are to engage in a conversation let me put some FACTs on the table.”
Charges, counter-charges, excuses and ill feelings. That’s the current status of a party engaged in a cold war with both itself and the opposition in the state. Though I am an alternate State Executive Committeeman, at this point, I come down on the side of Mr. Jenkins. Harrison has to shed his DC insider mantle and make a choice, South Carolina or Washington? He cannot serve both masters. He’s is a man of considerable skills, a stellar education and the experience and preparation to successfully lead the party in South Carolina. But, he’s also a major league lobbyist whose commitments are currently split between the state and lobbying for big boy multi-nationals.
Harrison put together a ground game and a team of volunteers that was highly commendable. They were mostly young college kids who reminded me a lot of the 2008 Obama workers. I was one of the elders of that group. The chairman was a great 2014 organizer and had a decent ground game. The basics are there but he’s still first and foremost, a DC thinker. He had a program called a “Coordinated Campaign.” For a substantial amount of cash, a candidate could pay the party to have volunteers canvas and do extra work for him or her, while other candidates had to make do with less help. That’s a ridiculous business deal, not an equal opportunity concerted effort for all Democratic candidates.
Unless Harrison dials it back to the state and gives all Democratic candidates equal access to party resources, it’s déjà vu all over again.
Putting a happier face on this whole debacle, here are some more lines from Sheheen to his supporters:
“South Carolina is where I was raised and it’s where Amy and I are raising our boys. We are all South Carolinians and we all have a stake in our state’s future. Change isn’t going to come from the results of a single election, but from an enduring effort to lift up our communities. Keep volunteering in your communities, keep supporting candidates who inspire you, keep the faith.”
Yep! “Keep the faith.”