It is that time a year again when we at VUI predict our list of political race losers. We do this in honor and respect to the late Leonard Posthostis, whose radio program “Leonard’s Losers” was a staple in our homes on Saturday mornings before college football games. Ole Leonard would predict the losers of the games of the day, and be right a lot more than he was wrong. In that tradition, we offer again, VUI’s political losers.
Let’s start with the Congressional Delegation. Senator Jim DeMint is making a name for himself around the country, campaigning for candidates and being mentioned as Presidential contender for 2012. Republican DeMint’s opponent is Democrat Alvin Greene, who has made a national name for himself in his strange and unlikely nomination. The novelty of Alvin Greene and his criminal charges and strange behavior has worn off, and the DeMint machine rolls on. VUI’s loser, in a rout: Alvin Greene.
In the First Congressional District, history will be made. For the first time in that district’s history, a Black man will represent that district in the United States House of Representatives. Democrat Ben Frasier is a good man by all accounts, but this is a Republican year. Tim Scott has done everything right, and is set for a big win and will become a rare Black Republican in Congress. VUI’s loser: Ben Frasier.
The Second Congressional District race is the most expensive in the history of the state of South Carolina. Incumbent Republican Joe Wilson’s “you lie” charge against the President during an address by the President to Congress made this race a national one. Money poured in on both side. Democrat Rob Miller, the man who lost to Wilson two years ago, is back again, with a fist full of dollars. But, Wilson raised even more money, and in the end, especially in this year, the Second District is a Republican one. It will not be comfortable and there might be some tense moments, but in the end VUI’s loser is Rob Miller.
The Third Congressional District is almost forgotten about. Democratic nominee Jane Dyer was whipped two years ago by outgoing Congressman Gresham Barrett. Barrett gave up the seat to run for Governor and lost. Jeff Duncan of Laurens is the new Republican nominee. All that has changed for the Republicans is the name of their nominee. Dyer will feel like a Homecoming opponent when this one is over. VUI’s loser: Jane Dyer.
The Fourth Congressional District is a lot like the Third Congressional District. Trey Gowdy defeated incumbent Bob Inglis in the June Primary, but again, only the names have changed for the Republicans. Paul Corden carries the banner for the Democrats again, and again, he will be their sacrificial lamb. VUI’s loser: Paul Corden
The Sixth Congressional District race is the Democrat’s homecoming game. Democrat Jim Clyburn has considerable firepower in that district and is going to light up the vote tallying scoreboard like Florida against Charleston Southern. Jim Pratt is the Republican homecoming opponent. VUI’s loser, in a big way, even in this year: Jim Pratt.
That brings us to the Fifth Congressional District race. This one is the most interesting one in the state. The old powerhouse, Democrat John Spratt is taking on the new power, Republican Mick Mulvaney. The race has went back and forth in the polls, and both parties are pouring money and operatives into the district. In college football terms, this one is Penn State with its old coach and traditions versus Boise State and its young and trendy ways. An old political dog like Spratt can always find a way to win, so this one is harder than most to call. But, in this climate, it seems the old dog’s time might be up. VUI’s loser, in a close one: John Spratt.
Now, we move to the statewide constitutional officers.
As Curtis Loftis will be elected Treasurer and Bob Livingston will be elected Adjutant General by default, as they have no organized opposition, we will move on to other races.
In the race for Commissioner of Agriculture, Republican incumbent Hugh Weathers is faced Democrat Tom Elliott. If you have never heard of Elliott, do not feel bad, we at VUI had not until we started researching the races. Weathers will cruise. VUI’s loser: Tom Elliott.
The race for Comptroller General of South Carolina might be more interesting. Incumbent Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom is the Republican nominee for re-election. Eckstrom is a CPA and has fiscally sound views, but his love life has become a topic of interest. We at VUI have noted repeatedly how we did not like him using Peanuts characters to express his lovelorn status. That said, his opponent, Democrat Robert Barber, seems to be perennial candidate for statewide office and is an old cock fighting lobbyist. In the end, the lovelorn CPA will carry the day. VUI’s loser, in one closer than people think: Robert Barber.
Another potentially close race will be race for Superintendant of Education. That office seems to be Democrats to have. In the past twelve years, Republicans have swept to victory in other offices, but lost this one. Incumbent Jim Rex gave up the race to run unsuccessfully for Governor. Democrat Frank Holleman runs in his place. Republicans nominated General Mick Zais, the former President of Newberry College, and Libertarian Timothy Moultrie runs again as the spoiler. Zais is not as scary to teachers or inept in campaigning as Karen Floyd was four years ago. This seems to be the year that Republicans could find a way to win this office. Further, despite his personal resume, Holleman does not have the personal touch that Rex or Tennenbaum had before him. It will be close. But, in the end, VUI’s losers: Frank Holleman and Tim Moultrie.
A race that will not be close is Secretary of State. Incumbent Republican Mark Hammond seeks yet another term on that job. There is something about this race that makes the Democrats talk good folks into going out and getting crushed at the polls. This year’s Democrat is Marjorie Johnson. If Democratic Party elders come and try to talk you into running for this office, watch out, you are in for a butt kicking. Johnson seems like a good person, and someone who wants to make a difference, but again, her party talked her into to being a sacrificial lamb. VUI’s loser, in a big way: Marjorie Johnson.
That brings us to the “Big 3” of statewide offices. Let’s start that discussion with Lt. Governor. The Lt. Governor’s office went down a notch or two in status when Governor Mark Sanford survived his scandal in part because people did not want Lt. Governor Bauer becoming Governor. Add to that for over three decades the office of Lt. Governor has been a political dead end. It has been the last stop on the elected political careers of Nancy Stevenson, Mike Daniel, Nick Theodore, Bob Peeler and Andre Bauer. Each of those individuals had impressive resumes coming into office.
By comparison, the resumes of Republican nominee Ken Ard and Democratic nominee Ashley Cooper are light. At least Ard was elected and served on Florence County Council and understands how local government works. Cooper was just a staffer to former Senator Hollings. Yet, Cooper has Charleston to count on and his campaign has hit Ard really hard. Make no mistake, Ard and Cooper are fighting it out for the office. It has been one of the ugliest races for Lt. Governor in the state’s history, and that helps Cooper. But, again, in this climate, VUI thinks Ard will find a way. So, VUI’s loser: Ashley Cooper.
That brings us to Attorney General. You know who we want. VUI has been clear for a while now about its support for Alan Wilson. But, we look at this as it is. The fact is Matthew Richardson, the Democrat, has run a great tv ad campaign. Richardson has also made efforts to thwart the grassroots efforts of Wilson. Further, as the grandson of an ole good ole boy judge, Richardson has used every contact and played every political hand. One has to give the man his due. But, in the end, his nastiness and his disrespect for a man like Wilson who served our country in combat will come back to bite Richardson. Richardson himself is a decent man, but those around him who attacked a vet are not. And, that folks, matters and it will matter to the voters. VUI’s loser: Matthew Richardson.
Now the big one: Governor. The race is between Republican Nikki Haley, Democrat Vincent Sheheen, Green candidate Morgan Reeves and our own Richard B. McCarty, write in candidate. This race will not be as close as some think. Haley has the magic. Some call her a con artist. Some call her talented. But, Haley has a way of saying nothing that rallies people. Take for example her latest ad where she says she will “take South Carolina back.” Back from whom? Her fellow Republicans who control the General Assembly? The Republican Governor who she has supported lockstep? Haley is full of clichés and no substance. But, it works. Haley dodges and flat lies about her life. But it works. She has the “Big Mo” as the Bush the Elder put it. Sometimes people just do not care what a candidate really stands for or what they have done. They just want them. As football handicappers put it, this is a lock. Haley wins and wins big, thus the VUI losers: Sheheen, Reeves, and gulp, yes, our own McCarty.