South Carolina has created great political figures through the Governor’s office. Republicans tout Strom Thurmond and Carroll Campbell. Democrats tout Ernest Hollings and Richard Riley. All of those men were bigger than political life in South Carolina and stood bigger than the politicos of their day.
Today, we have State Representative Nikki Haley versus State Senator Vincent Sheheen. Frankly, both are disappointments. Both seem to have benefited financially from their service in the General Assembly. Both are people who seemed to enjoy the business and political contacts of their families.
The campaigns ran so far by Haley and Sheheen have done nothing to inspire the people of South Carolina Instead, they trade barbs that remind people who why neither one of them should be Governor. In pure politics, that is to Haley’s advantage. Despite her business and sex scandals, people are angry at President Obama. President Obama is a Democrat. So is Sheheen. That is Haley’s great chance. If you doubt that look at how her campaign runs ads tying Obama to Sheheen.
Yet, the truth is neither Haley or Sheheen has made a case to the people of South Carolina on how they can lead South Carolina. One of them will be the next Governor, and chances are it will be Haley. But, the winner will not lead South Carolina. The General Assembly will. The next Governor will be more ineffective than Governor Sanford in actually getting things done. Haley or Sheheen will enjoy the Mansion and pomp and circumstance, but both have ran campaigns that show they do not have what it takes to be above politics and a figure of real power.
Frankly, here is how VUI sees things. If Sheheen finds a miracle and wins, he faces a hostile General Assembly, If Haley wins as expected, not only will she face a hostile General Assembly, but scandals that will have real political legs that will drag on. Bank on it. Haley might not even politically survive her first term.
As Ken Ard is the favorite to win the Lt. Governor’s race, it might just happen that Ard ends up Governor at some point after Haley resigns or is impeached. Yes, folks, it can get that serious At the best Haley will be a lame duck Governor who does the bidding of the General Assembly to keep the honorifics. At the best Sheheen will be a Governor who has to cut deals to just get something done. That is the reality of the situation.
Neither major candidate for Governor of South Carolina seems to get what South Carolina needs. Neither have worked a day without the safety net of family political and business influences. Neither has ever worried about how to pay the electric bill or pay for health insurance. Neither are really one of us. South Carolina needs and deserves so much better.