The race for the Republican nomination for State Treasurer is not making headlines, but it has been downright dirty on the internet. Both campaigns have had supporters lurking on the internet sling the mud about each candidate’s lives and records. Charges of being a RINO and a tool of the legislature have been met with charges about divorces and personal lives. That is the internet. People who support someone often get overheated when they can post relatively anonymous comments.
The fact is both candidates are pretty decent guys. VUI will start with Treasurer Converse Chellis. Chellis took the job of State Treasurer in the most difficult of circumstances. The office of State Treasurer had been dominated by the late Grady Patterson. Patterson served as the State Treasurer of South Carolina from 1966 until 1994 and from 1998 until 2006. Patterson was a man beyond reproach, even to his Republican opponents. An elderly Patterson lost re-election in 2006 to the once political force named Thomas Ravenel. Ravenel brought the vigor of youth and change to the job until he was arrested on charges of distributing cocaine. No state constitutional office had ever been subjected to such a disgraceful charge and office holder.
Governor Sanford moved quickly to remove Ravenel temporarily and appointed respected Columbia area attorney Ken Wingate as Acting Treasurer. When Ravenel pled guilty to the charges against him, the General Assembly faced electing a State Treasurer. The General Assembly chose Converse Cheillis from Summerville to fill the post.
Chellis had the resume. He had served several terms in the House. He was a C.P.A. On becoming Treasurer in the worse of circumstances, Chellis moved quickly to restore respect to the office. Frankly, Chellis did that.
But the election of Chellis upset the Sanford crowd. They wanted someone else that was not supported by the General Assembly. Thus, upon his election by the General Assembly, the campaign by some factions in the Republican Party against Chellis began. Some would challenge policy. Others would lurk on the internet and smear the man behind pen names and the like. One thing was clear; there was a rank bitterness about Governor Sanford, who then was not dogged by the Argentina affair, not getting his way.
The rank bitterness remained. From it came a demand for someone to challenge Chellis in the GOP Primary. That someone turned out to be Curtis Loftis.
Loftis is no villain or ne’er do well. Loftis is a successful small businessman who served as Director of the Office of Aging and Director of Transparency in the Comptroller General’s office. Loftis is a charitable leader.
VUI believes either man could do the job of State Treasure. Neither would embarrass South Carolina as Thomas Ravenel did. But, we have to voice our disappointment at the negative comments on the internet by both camps. Such nonsense is below both men. We recognize that people in lower ballot statewide races have to get attention anyway that they can, but still, the Treasurer’s race could have been a race between two good men with different ideas. Instead, it seems to be an internet mud fight.
Mud fight or not, VUI has to make a call on this one. The staff debated. In the end, VUI concluded, that when South Carolina needed someone to clean up a mess, Converse Chellis showed up. As such, VUI endorses Converse Chellis for the Republican nomination for Treasurer for another four years. Chellis did the job when it counted most. That counts for something and earned our support in the primary.