Simply put, there is no Carroll Campbell on the ballot this year for Governor, in either party. Carroll Campbell was perhaps the greatest Governor of a generation, so it is not fair to compare candidates to him.
But, it is fair and right to remember what Campbell did and ask if a candidate for Governor has those abilities.
First, Campbell had a strong resume as a leader and as Republican Party builder. Campbell had no litmus tests for people to join his Republican Party. If you agreed with his agenda on most things, Campbell was glad to have you call yourself a fellow Republican.
Second, Governor Campbell had the ability to work with legislators in his own party and in the Democratic Party to get things done. His reforms of government were the strongest in a century and they came with the assistance of Democrats like former State Senator John Drummond. Campbell had the knowledge of how things worked so that he could be comfortable in working with legislators. Campbell realized they were elected to office just as he was, and he respected them and their role. Competence allows such. If a Governor knows what is going on and how things work, he or she can influence events. If not, he or she can only sit on the sideline and lob charges, as we have witnessed with Governor Sanford over the past seven and a half years.
Campbell's knowledge and competence extended beyond legislative affairs. When Hurricane Hugo hit, Campbell worked with a myriad of government and private entities to make sure South Carolina recovered as quickly as possible. It was his finest hour and defined what a great Governor should be.
Indeed, Governors are legally politically weak in South Carolina. On their agendas, their ability to persuade members of the General Assembly is essential to governing effectively. Further, a Governor does have the power in a crisis. That is perhaps a Governor's truest test of ability and leadership. Protecting the people of South Carolina in a time of crisis is the Governor's first duty.
As such, think on this. While there is truly no Carroll Campbell on the ballot, take a moment to think who you really want in that chair if a Category 4 hurricane is sitting off the coast of Charleston about to strike. Who do you want calling the shots that will protect your life, and your family and friend's lives? Rhetoric does not count in those moments. Slick ads and endorsements do not matter. The judgment to make split second life and death decisions does. You can't blame this or that politician for a hurricane, you have to lead. You can not hire some consultant to tell you how to convince a hurricane to turn away.
So, when you vote, think about that moment. Which candidate really can lead when a crisis is upon us? Who do you trust with your life and your loved ones lives? When a crisis comes, who has the resume and leadership to show up and work and get things done?