Wednesday, November 29, 2006

This blog will remain

I feel a lot like South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier. With blogs shutting down left and right and rumors about this and that, I think I have to make myself clear. This blog is going nowhere. Sure, it is named Voting under the Influence, a pun on words that makes fun of some our voters who vote drunk, (you know who you are), and on the rest of us who are under the influnce of money, ads, politicos, and the like. Just because the 2006 elections are over does not mean this blog will not stay put. There are issues this blog will address: such as the need to reform certain parts of state government, and the growing cost of local and county governments. We also will talk about SC life, like football, good barbecue, good literature and that kind of thing. There are also two huge primaries for the Presidency of the United States coming up.

I will do my best to bring out some issues, and call it like I see it. I appreciate you reading and commenting, and I will not go anywhere. Unless, of course, someone offers me two million a year to be the head football coach at Alabama or Miami, in that case, you are on your own. :) BTW, Alabama, I did spend two years in the stands watching Steve Spurrier coach. :)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Governor, Mary Pearson appears to be the right choice

The Governor of South Carolina has a little known power that is not used very often. That power is to appoint county officials to finish terms that are left vacant for whatever reason. It is a particularly strong part of the Governor's arsenal of political power. In Dorchester County, Governor Sanford gets a chance to exercise that power with the soon resignation of Dorchester County Treasurer Patsy Knight, who was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives from District 97.

Governor Sanford has a chance to do the right thing, both for the people of Dorchester County, and politically in appointing Mary Pearson. From all accounts, Pearson is duly qualified, and will bring a needed conservative Republican approach to the office. The Dorchester Republican Party voted to recommend her appointment to the Governor, and Pearson has support as far away as Anderson County for the post. Pearson will get the job done,the way it ought to be done.

Governor Sanford has a great chance here to appoint someone who will bring his conservative approach to local government, where is badly needed. And, Governor Sanford will also do the political will of the people who make up his strongest base. It seems a no brainer. Governor Sanford needs to appoint Mary Pearson Treasurer of Dorchester county.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The First Annual Thanksgivng Political Awards

I love Thanksgiving. It is time when friends and family get together, eat good food, enjoy good beverages, watch football, and take some to time to be thankful for all that they have in life. I am thankful for so many things, and in the holiday spirit, I decided that this blog will issue Thanksgiving Political Awards every year. So, Happy Thanksgiving. Remember to thank the Big Fellow upstairs for all you have, and well, here are the First Annual Voting Under the Influence Thanksgiving Political Awards.

Political Turkey of the Year. This award goes the politician, group, or politico who ended up having the most disappointing and underachieving political year.

The nominees are:

1) South Carolinians for Responsible Government. I realize that this group had a few state house victories to their credit, and they were a part of the Sanford effort, but overall, for the money and time spent by them in this campaign season, their results were weak. They misspent money with unwise mail outs in the campaign's homestretch and made one of the biggest political mistakes a group like them can make: they became a subject of the political debate. It is hard to make stealth attacks on unsuspecting candidates when everyone is reading about you in the papers. And, attacking the paper that wrote about you by spending money on a mail out against them, well, that's just plain silly. And so is wasting money attacking a Republican nominee for a state house seat in a general election. Was the Democrat going to be more likely to your group's bidding? Just think if that money would have spent on some mail outs favorable to Floyd.

2) Karen Floyd. Floyd was in some ways too slick for her own good, or over coached if you like. At several points during the campaign, Floyd looked invincible, flush with cash and a Republican in a Republican state. Then, she stumbled with the grassroots and stumbled in the debates, which I suppose people actually pay some attention to after all. The result was a double digit lead turning into a narrow defeat.

3) Trav Roberts and those around him. I name Roberts because he comes to mind. But, he and his fellow Democrats around Grady Patterson should have talked the old legend into a graceful retirement instead of running a campaign Patterson was clearly not up to.

4) Drew Theodore. The incumbent is under a cloud of scandal of sorts. And, you, as your party's nominee make clear in a debate that the first thing you will do is hire someone who knows how to run the office you are running for. If you do that, you know its time to pack it in.

5) Mike Campbell. From all accounts, Mike Campbell is a nice guy. But, when the son of Carroll Campbell does not campaign for the Republican Lt. Governor because that Lt. Governor beat him in the primary, well, that just begs for a Political Turkey of the year nomination.

And, the winner is....Karen Floyd...I just can not get past the squandering of a big lead and her struggling in her home county of Spartanburg, a big Republican county!

The Golden Drumstick for Outstanding Political Achievement of the Year Award. This award goes to the politician, group, or politico who had the best performance.

The nominees are:

1)Jim Rex. Rex presented himself as a viable alternative to Karen Floyd to middle of the road voters in the closing days of the campaign. He got outspent 3-1 and won as a Democrat in a Republican state.

2)Rod Shealy. Some thought some time ago not to mention his name among the heavyweight consultants in South Carolina. Then, Shealy took a family doctor from Newberry and beat the incumbent Governor in Lexington County in the Republican primary. Then, Shealy steered two candidates, Andre Bauer and Thomas Ravenel, to statewide victory in the fall when a year ago neither victory seemed likely.

3)Mark Sanford. Just a year ago, Governor Sanford was labeled a maverick who could not work with anyone by his fellow Republicans in the legislature. Those fellow Republicans grumbled loudly about him, and Newberry MD Oscar Lovelace gave the Governor a political bloody nose in the Republican primary this past Spring. The Governor looked ripe for defeat. His big win over Tommy Moore breathed new life into the Governor's agenda.

4)Lt. Governor Andre Bauer. In the early spring, when everyone was watching those videos of his speeding incidents, Mike Campbell was all but considered the nominee. Then came the plane crash that sat Bauer on the sidelines for several critical days leading up the primary. Primary night had Campbell with a big lead, and Bauer hanging on. Bauer fought back to win a close runoff, only to have members of his own party lament about how vulnerable he was to Democrat Robert Barber. In a campaign that was rough as a corn cob, Andre Bauer got another slim win for re-election. This guy never gives up.

5)Thomas Ravenel. This guy took a third place finish in a US Senate primary and turned into being elected to statewide office. He did so after getting into the race late and after wasting time debating with John Rainey.

And, the Golden Drum Stick goes to.....

Thomas Ravenel, by the skin of his teeth. Bauer is a close second. But, Ravenel has set himself up nicely to be a strong candidate for Governor four years from now.

Other awards:

Cornbread Dressing Award for Career Achievement: Ronny Townsend, the retired Chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee. Like his stands or not, you always knew where you stood with him. The victory of his endorsed successor, Mike Gambrell over SCRG's pet Dan Harvell and then Democrat Ron Gilreath were thumbs in their eyes.

The Cranberry Sauce Award for local or county government goes to : Bill McAbee. Yes, another one from Anderson County, but this is a rare county council Republican who votes against tax increases every chance he gets. In a time when far too many Republicans on county councils vote to increase taxes, McAbee is a refreshing reminder of what a Republican county councilman ought to be like.

The Holiday Ham Award goes to Lexington County State Senator Jakie Knotts. Knotts is a dyed in the wool populist who made his points clear against Governor Sanford. Like him or not, ole Jakie is clear about where he stands, and makes sure everyone knows. I wonder though, will Sanford's friends go after him in 08?

The Fruitcake Award goes to Democratic Secretary of State candidate Cheryl Footman. Her debate performance gets her this award. While she is apparently a nice person, a good person, a person of faith, when she said that God told her to run for statewide office, and then handed off God's mandate to be decided specifically at Democratic headquarters, well, you have to wonder. Thanks for playing statewide politics, Ms. Footman.

Well, that's it, the First Annual Thanksgiving Political Awards.

Monday, November 20, 2006

It is past time for DOT to be under the Governor

Governor Sanford is right. Indeed, it is past time for the Department of Transportation to be a part of the Governor's cabinet. The current way things are done is not not working. Just take a look at the record.
First, South Carolina's roads are among the deadliest in the United States. Study after study shows how dangerous our roads are.
Second, the agency, according to the recent study by the Legislative Audit Council, has wasted millions.
Third, to make our roads safer and to compete in the global economy we need road and bridge projects that are based on necessity, not on politics. I know there will be protests about that point, but the fact remains that if a influential legislator wants the roads around his home paved, they get paved somehow, while roads that are busier do not.
How will placing the DOT in the Governor's cabinet change anything?
First, it will make someone, the Governor, clearly responsible. With responsibility comes accountability for the acts of the DOT. Future Governors will know that if millions of dollars are wasted, they will pay politically. It is hard for the voters to keep a political scorecard of all the DOT board members and legislators involved, but if the Governor is responsible, it is easy to hold the Governor accountable.
Second, a Governor can focus the DOT projects on roads and bridges that are needed to make our state safer and more competitive. "Roads to nowhere," such as four lanes built for economic development that are built without other necessary infrastructure such as water and sewer could become a thing of the past.
There is a possible compromise. The Director of DOT should be part of the Governor's cabinet. If the legislature must hold on to some power, perhaps a blue ribbon committee on road projects can be created to advise the DOT, composed of appointees from the Governor, the House and the Senate.
But, the status quo is unacceptable. It seems the quickest way to fix the problems the DOT faces is to put it, one of the most important state agencies, in the Governor's cabinet.
Wonder what you folks think?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Time for Barber to pack it in, Floyd has options

The official recount is over, and Lt. Governor Andre Bauer has won by over three thousand votes again. It might be tough for his opponent, liberal lobbyist Robert Barber to face, but it is time for Barber to pack it in. Barber lost. It was close. It was hard fought. But, Mr. Barber and his lobbyists friends lost. We will see what level of class Mr. Barber has later today at this scheduled press conference. I hope the has the class to concede and accept the close loss. But, if his debate demeanor is any indication, we won't know until Barber utters the words of concession.

As for Floyd, her apparent defeat got smaller, as Rex's 500 plus vote lead dwindled down during the recount. One can be assured if Rex was 400 or so votes down in over a million votes cast, the Democrats would be crying foul and crying loud about people denied to the polls. Floyd has the same option, as I have stated in an earlier post. Her biggest problem is the fact that GOP voters typically seem to be smart enough to know how to vote and know who they are voting for. It is just hard convince people that GOP voters were too dumb on election day to show up with proper ID and the like. Rex will probably win. But, the length it takes to determine that will be based on how much personal money and Howard Rich money Floyd can bring to bear in any challenge.

In the State House races, it looks like Republican George Bailey is out. The only real contested race seems to be a county council race in Kershaw County, where Democratic voters where allegedly turned away from voting. (Why doesn't this happen with GOP voters?, especially in counties that have Democrats dominating the local election commissions?)

As with all things like this time will tell. But, one thing is certain, it is time for liberal lobbyist Robert Barber to concede to Lt. Governor Andre Bauer. We will see if Barber has the personal class to do so later today.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

An economic giant falls

Economist Milton Friedman, the father of modern "conservative" economics died at age 94.

His life was one of incredible achievement. He was a professor at the Chicago School, author, television show host, advisor to Presidents, Prime Ministers and central banks around the world. He was the balance to the big government ideas of economist John Maynard Keynes, who believed that government was the key to economic growth.

Friedman believed in freedom and strong rules for monetary policy. His ideas seemed radical when he proposed them in the wake FDR's New Deal and Keynesian economics being the accepted model. Two of his ideas are now seen as accepted economic rules: you can not grow an economy through inflation and there is a certain level of unemployment that is normal and natural. When Friedman first espoused those theories, they were radical.

Also, Friedman was a big believer in freedom and the power of free market forces. He believed that the more that people could choose through the free market, the better their lives would be. That belief would be embraced by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

Friedman was consistent in his idea about freedom. He was the against the military draft. He was for legalizing some drugs. He among the first to call for education vouchers.

Though Friedman won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1976 for his work on monetary policy, he was perhaps most effective by being the person who lifted the intellectual weight in what was, at the time, a battle against the tide of growing government.

Friedman understood humanity and its role in free markets perhaps better than anyone since Adam Smith. We need more minds like Friedman's.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

An historic election in some ways

After looking at the results over the past hundred or so years as best I could for constitutional offices, I have to say the past general election was historic. It appears we have never had one constitutional race, much less two, so closely decided at this years Lt. Governor's and Super. of Education races. We are in new territory in South Carolina with those two races.

First, let's look at the Lt. Governor's race. Lt. Governor Bauer is ahead by 3,000 plus votes, and it is unlikely that any challenge will overturn that result. Mr. Barber has to do his duty as his party's nominee and wait on the official recount to concede, but after that official recount, it will be time for Mr. Barber to realize that this cock fight is over, and he lost. Look for a bitter concession statement from him in the next few days.

Then there is the Education race. What a race. Jim Rex is ahead by 507 votes out of over almost 1.1 million votes cast. I did not vote for Ms. Floyd, I voted Libertarian in the race, however, if Floyd played the election game like Democrats have done over the years, there are some questions she might want to make sure are answered, to make sure, as our Democratic brothers and sisters put, "every vote counts" There is plenty of time to make sure, so here are the questions I would ask if I were in her campaign's camp.

1) Are there a number of people who went to the polls to vote for Floyd that were turned away at the polls? If so, what were the reasons that they were turned away? Who made the decisions? What is the background of those who made the decisions?

2)Is there a way we can make sure the computer program that counted the votes is accurate? What about the problem in Greenville County, a heavily Republican county? What proof do we have that they actually got their computer counting program in good working order and that their count is accurate?

3)Is there a way to call for a hand count of the paper absentee ballots throughout the state? Who counts them? What are their backgrounds?

4)Is there a way to make sure that all absentee votes were in fact legitimate? Who makes that decision? What are their backgrounds? Do they have any partisan ties?

The above questions are just things I would ponder if I were in Floyd's position. We all know the Democrats would ponder such, heck, the Democrats are already raising money for any potential legal fight over the voting.

If the education race was fought to the end, it would take a complicated legal approach involving both state and federal laws. It could drag out for weeks, or even months.

Who knows what will happen? Floyd might accept the recount on its face if she loses it and concede. But, she and the Republicans ought to keep one thing in mind. If the tables were turned and Mr. Rex was down by 507 votes, one could be assured the Democrats would find things to cry foul about in the process and fight it to the end.

We will find out this week how it all shakes out.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

a long night

This has turned out to be a long night, an early morning, however you want to describe it. There seems to be one box out still in Greenville County. Karyn Floyd, whom I argued was far too slick for her own good, has went from heavy favorite to the candidate trailing by 217 votes. Lt. Governor Bauer is up by a few hundred and should be in fairly good shape the box out is indeed in Greenville. That one dadgummed box could decide two races.

I have to say hat's off, win or lose, to the Rex people. They hung in there, and with about 5% of the conservative vote breaking for other candidates, yes, that includes me, I voted for Moultie, they just might keep the office.

I am sure lawyers, guns and money will be brought to bear before this one is over, forgive my quoting and old Hank Williams Jr. song. But, this is going to be interesting.

I can not help but think if Floyd would have been not as slick and just stood up for her principles, like tution tax credits, clearly, how this night could have been different. Forty something thousand votes bled away from her to other "reform" candidates.

Maybe a big box from Greenville out there will save the Floyd campaign. But, even if it does a big lesson has been taught. You have to be clear with the voters, even if you have big money and a slick campaign.

Also, if you are a SC Democrat, you have to have some concern. In the biggest Democratic night since 1974, you have to scratch and claw to hold on to oneconstitutional office. Your living legend, Grady Patterson was whipped soundly. That ought to be sobering.

Again, what a night. I now will try to get a little sleep because I have to work for a living. And, as I said before, Howard Rich and his friends will probably want a refund.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bold Predictions

Okay, it is bold prediction time on today's elections.

First, the GOP will lose the US House of Representatives and hold on to the United States Senate by a slim margin. The numbers just have not moved as much as they needed to in battleground districts. I hope I am wrong, but brace yourselves for Speaker Pelosi and a subpoena a day out of Congress towards the Bush Administration.

Second, to the statewide races. I believe it will be a sweep, but two races do concern me. One is the Lt. Governor's race and the other is the Comptroller General's race. It would not shock me if the Democrats pulled off one or both of those races. But, I believe they will not, and with Grady running about the worst campaign of his life, that's pretty much it for the Democrats.

Congress is easy to call. Spratt wins, Wilson wins, Barrett wins, Inglis wins, Brown wins, Clyburn wins. Easy picks.

On Wednesday I will hand out my awards for the 2006 election year in South Carolina and give some post game analysis.

Go vote. And, uh, avoid the bright lights, airplanes, and fires and whatever else seems to reach up and bite candidates this year.

Friday, November 03, 2006

This and than about the election

There are several things on my mind as the election approaches this coming Tuesday. Here are my thoughts, point by point.

  1. We all need to get ready for a heavy dose of righteous indignation from Democrats about illegal voters. DNC Chairman Howard Dean has instructed his poll watchers to not follow the law, but to make sure no one is turned away at the polls. That means the Democrats will be out in force to make sure that fair election laws are made to look like something as racist, unfair, etc. I just do not get the Democrats when it comes to this. The people who want to regulate everything in our lives want voting to be virtually unregulated. What is wrong with requiring people who vote to have identification and be actually registered to vote? Wait and see. There will be at least one major news article on someone crying foul about having to play by the rules.

  1. I have not commented on the Agriculture Commissioner’s race, but I will now. I believe incumbent Hugh Weathers to be the right choice at the polls. But, this office, which was created by the legislature, not the state constitution, ought to be appointed. With one act of the state house and senate, this election could be done away with.

  1. I will vote and recommend a yes vote on the so called gay marriage amendment. Marriage was meant to be between a man and a woman to legitimize children. It has been that way for thousands of years in different cultures around the globe. Who are five percent of the population to change that? What arrogance on the gay rights side. Part of me can not believe that such a thing as gay marriage is even up for public debate. My great grandfather, a FDR Democrat, and my hero, is probably spinning in his grave.

  1. I will vote and recommend a yes vote on the amendment to cap property value increases at fifteen percent. Local governments are out of control and are the fastest growing area of government in South Carolina. This is one step to rein them in.

  1. I will vote no and recommend a no vote on the amendment to allow the state retirement fund to be invested in foreign businesses. I know this goes against the Republican grain, but investing in foreign businesses and getting rid of the board that oversees investments is a little too strong for me. You or I might choose to risk the capital we have in such foreign ventures, but investing other people’s money in such seems too risky. What are we as a state to do if our state invests in Chinese businesses and the Chinese tell us they are keeping the money and not paying out dividends? Again, it seems too risky.

  1. What a waste of rich people’s money, forgive the pun. Howard Rich and his friends have invested heavily in South Carolina elections this year. I think those folks have wasted their money. Sure, they picked up a state house seat here and there in the primary, but they have invested in general election candidates, such as Governor Sanford, who were going to win anyway. Further, their supposed efforts with South Carolinians for Responsible Government have resulted in little more than sophomoric attack mail outs and radio ads. The outsiders invested heavily in South Carolina politics, but they have not got their money’s worth. Their ideal of private school choice is not even clearly espoused by their pet candidate for Superintendent of Education. Those folks have padded the payrolls of a handful of consultants and did little to further their cause. If I were them, I would want my money back.

  1. It will be shame if Robert Barber is elected Lt. Governor. I watched for a second time Barber and Lt. Governor’s Bauer’s debate on ETV. Barber is little more than a lobbying jerk. His “keep talking” comment to Andre reminded me of a drunk guy in a bar ready to punch some guy challenging him over whether Clemson should wear orange or purple uniforms. Barber’s ties to cockfighting are far more damning than the Lt. Governor’s speeding.
  2. Can you believe that Drew Theodore is still campaigning on public officials being more accountable in how they use government services? Does the man know who his daddy is?