VUI had an interesting conversation with an old Democratic political hand recently. The conversation started about the Governor's race, but turned to the Fifth Congressional District race, where longtime incumbent John Spratt faces stiff competition from Republican Mick Mulvaney. Though Spratt has held on to the seat for decades, the Fifth has trended Republican in the last few years, including voting for John McCain over President Obama in 2008.
That fact brought Sheheen into the conversation. Sheheen is on the the surface, a pretty moderate church going family man. He is not your typical Democrat. Further, Sheheen is well respected in Kershaw County, where he is from. Kerhsaw, like the other areas in the Fifth Congressional District, like Newberry, Darlington and Rock Hill are relatively rural swing voting areas. People in the Fifth are relatively poor and rural compared to other districts in the state. They are hurting economically. Sure, some might say that places like Rock Hill and Fort Mill are Charlotte suburbs, but historically, the votes swing.
The argument presented to VUI goes as follows. Sheheen, a son of that region, makes people comfortable with voting for a Democrat for Governor. Further, his personal appeal in the region will turn out voters who otherwise might stay home. With someone voters are comfortable with at the head of the Democratic ticket, it becomes harder for Mulvaney and the Republicans to tie Spratt to Obama and Pelosi. Watch the coming campaign and remember VUI told you first, Sheheen and Spratt are going to talk a lot about being South Carolina Democrats and they are going to talk more about Mark Sanford then President Obama.
Will such save Spratt or even elect Sheheen as Governor? Who knows. We will learn that on Election Day. There are some matters that are pretty clear. The Democrats are running like scalded dogs from Alvin Greene, their US Senate nominee. Second, the Democrats seem more inclined to use Vincent Sheheen to save John Spratt then to work to elect Sheheen. While we normally don't give the Democrats advice, we offer this tidbit for them. Forget Spratt. Sheheen is the future of the Democratic Party if there is to be a future for it. Sheheen has the brains and the personality to win and go beyond that. But, if the Democrats see him as the man to save Spratt, it will all be wasted. Again, VUI just calls it like we see it.