Friday, April 25, 2008

Senate 23: a race to watch

The Republican primary race in State Senate District 23 is shaping up to be one for the ages. Incumbent State Senator Jake Knotts’s defense of his seat against Katrina Shealy, the former Chairman of the Lexington County Republican Party is a series of contrasts that make for one helluva a political contest.
First, there are the Joe Sixpacks in the small towns and rural areas versus the soccer moms and dads of the suburbs. District 23 is almost an equal mix of Columbia suburban voters versus small town and rural Lexington county voters. The folks who like their gun rights, their religion and public schools are pitted against suburban folks who do not own a gun, but buy into the Sanford/Club for Growth/SCRG plan for giving them money to help keep their kids out of public schools. It is a classic contrast between the working class Republicans and the professionals who sort of look down not only on their rural neighbors, but down on Senator Knotts.
That brings up the second conflict, a conflict that is being found around the state. That conflict is between populist Republicans and the new breed of Sanford/Club for Growth/SCRG Republicans. Neither side likes big government or taxes. But, they part ways on public education. They also part ways on cultural matters. While the populist Republicans are worried about gun rights and gay marriage, the other side sort of takes a more urbane approach on such matters. As long as they can get their taxes reduced and some help to send their kids to private school, they frown upon what some of them see as the “redneck” social views of the populist Republicans.
There is yet another classic conflict. That conflict involves the politics of Lexington County. Senator Knotts is a Joe Wilson loyalist. Joe Wilson’s name is golden in Lexington County politics. However, the name Shealy is also well respected. Indeed, Katrina Shealy’s last name will mean more than the Governor’s endorsement on Election Day. (If you remember, Governor Sanford LOST Lexington County in his GOP primary bid against Dr. Oscar Lovelace in 2006.) Ironically, there will be a Shealy involved in helping Knotts get re-elected. It is a true political civil war.
The last, but not least important conflict is that of the lifelong public servant versus the upstart who is embraced by idealists. Jake Knotts spent his life serving the public, as a law enforcement officer, a member of the SC House and a member of the SC Senate. Agree with Knotts or not, he always seems to be honestly doing what he thinks the people want him to do. Knotts is colorful and sometimes just flat wrong, but he’s honest and not packaged. Contrast that with Shealy, a polished political upstart with a strong family name, financial backing from two very influential groups and the Governor of South Carolina. Shealy is the well packaged, colorless candidate.
That well packaging and lack of color normally makes a candidate ideal in a Republican primary. However, the makeup of District 23 and Jake Knott’s lifetime of service and knowing people makes this race one of the most interesting of 2008. There are so many potential factors in this race to watch for. For example, will Joe Wilson endorse Knotts to counter the Governor’s endorsement? Who will win the Lexington civil war? What a race to watch.
(Oh, as a side note, I do acknowledge some other guy filed as well, but in all honesty, this thing is between Knotts and Shealy.)


  1. Knotts is a redneck. Shealy is the MILF we all dream about. Get over it. I will vote for the MILF over the redneck.

  2. Brian,

    Close, but not quite on the analysis. The gun rights folks are behind Shealy in this fight - Knotts' opposition to concealed carry (to the point of holding up the legislation in the Senate) has infuriated the GOA/NRA folks. They will be rallying to her side, not his.

    Also, don't discount the impacts of small business support for Shealy. The State Chamber endorsement happened because of a long laundry list of grievances that small business folks have with Knotts, combined with Shealy's extensive contacts with those folks.

    Small businesses, gun rights backers, social conservatives and fiscal conservatives; that's a pretty strong combo in a Republican primary.

  3. I agree this is a race to watch and that Republicans supposedly don’t like big government or taxes – but this race is not about school choice. It’s about Jake Knotts' votes against many ideals of the Republican party.

    Did you know he has supported the last two Democrats for governor? He refuses to stand up for taxpayers while state government spending has grown 41% in the past three years. He voted to spend $950,000 in taxpayer money for the green bean museum in Lake City and voted to overturn Governor Sanford’s veto of the tens of millions we waste every year on the program many papers have called a "legislative slush fund," which spends our tax dollars on important government functions like the "Great Southeast Balloon Festival,a "Celebrate the Ladies" concert, and the "Lexington Doo-da Parade and Funfest."

    He's no real Republican.

  4. Silence DogoodApril 29, 2008

    Anon, after lurking here and reading your comment I couldn't help myself.

    "It’s about Jake Knotts' votes against many ideals of the Republican party."

    1. Did you know he has supported the last two Democrats for governor?

    That is prett popular in Lexington as Mark Sanford and his veto of the new heart center and other things are not.

    2. He refuses to stand up for taxpayers while state government spending has grown 41% in the past three years.

    This was done by a completely controlled Republican legislature.

    To see more Republican "ideals" on fiscal conservatism note the spending of the U.S. Congress while Republicans are in charge. If he votes for big spending while trying cut taxes (and therefore create bigger debts - with no relation to any expanding tax base) then he is a true Republican by any standard an not just "in name only."

    Lastly, he was actually the Senator that pointed out where Gov. Sanford was the one who actually tried to put excess state monies into his (Gov. Sanford's) own campaign slush funds. So while you won't see me vote for Jake Knotts in any election, at least remeber that his is a Republican.

  5. west_rhinoMay 05, 2008

    Brian, your calculus here still has a few missing variables that sound like an old compadre trying to bluff his economic projections by blowing smoke about the fundamental theorrems of calculus and the mean value theorem to budget committee memebers in his tenure as a senate page. Josh is dead on with respect to the concealed carry issue, where Jakie looks more like Obama and Brady rather than a Reagan or Goldwater in his vapid obfuscation by amendment to our reciprocity laws. NRA-ILA might endorse Jakie, but this is where Grassroots Gunrights, here in the trenches, had to be formed, thanks to the think tank RINOs that have been bitten by the beltway bug, even wihtin the NRA. They're also PO'ed a little with Glen McConnell from his notions of what other states should be allowed reciprocity, but not as egregiously as they are with Jakie.

    Maybe soemone should have nudged one of Joe Wilson's former pages, say Desiree Watson to have entered the race in lieu of Shealy, the same vulnerabilites make Jakie's seat teneous. Has anyone filed to run as a Democrat in this race?