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.
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.