Yet again Voting Under the Influence is happy to bring you the Annual Thanksgiving Political Awards this year presented by Calhoun Fawls and Joe Modoc. To paraphrase Randy Quaid’s character in the movie Independence Day, “we’re back!” The awards are a mix of humor and serious recognition. Now on to the awards.
First, we get started with a new award. Everyone seems to have, or at least know someone who has, a grumpy and absent minded uncle who used to be a big shot and sits and complains about most things, especially politics. He means well, even spends money on family, but ends up not even making it to Thanksgiving dinner. After watching the gubernatorial debates and with his dropping out of the race for Governor after spending millions, this year’s Grumpy Uncle Award goes to Tom Ervin.
Next, we present the Cranberry Sauce Award for Local Government Political Achievement. There are several local political figures that deserve recognition for the jobs they are doing. The nominees are:
Solicitor Strom Thurmond, Jr. ---Thurmond not only is doing an effective job as Solicitor but is a genuine good guy who by all accounts is loyal to his family, friends, and employees. That is a rare thing in politics today. He also has been instrumental in continuing the Steve Kodman Memorial Golf Tournament in Aiken to benefit the Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County.
Sheriff Ricky Wayne Chastain of Laurens County—One thing you have to say about Sheriff Chastain is that he is a political survivor. He’s been a professional “rassler,” he has endured staff scandals and his own sex scandals, which got him dubbed the “loving Sheriff.” But, the criminals don’t love him because he does a pretty good job of law enforcement in Laurens County and he is another public official is active is charitable activities.
Sheriff Lewis McCarty of Lexington County---Speaking of scandals, the scandal involving Jim Metts of Lexington County rocked the midlands of South Carolina. Rumors flew around and the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department lost credibility around the area. After his appointment by Governor Haley, Sheriff McCarty came out of retirement to act quickly to restore credibility to the department. His willingness to leave retirement to become interim Sheriff in such circumstances is a true example of public service.
Chesterfield County Clerk of Court Faye Sellers---Sellers is the last nominee and the award winner. Chesterfield County is not a wealthy or heavy populated county. However, the Clerk of Court’s office is one of the most efficient, accurate, modern and friendliest in the state. Frankly that office is an example of local government working the way it should. For that we give Clerk of Court Sellers the Cranberry Sauce Award for achievement in local government.
Speaking of examples, Jenny Sanford and Thomas Ravenel are two examples of political figures that made us laugh and scratch our head. Jenny Sanford seems to love getting publicity as an ex-wife of an ex- Governor. When she was not publically hauling her now Congressman ex-husband into court over this or that, “conservative” Sanford was making a strange campaign video for Democrat Jenny Deerin who was running against Republican incumbent Secretary of State Mark Hammond. Whatever the reason that Sanford and her some of moneyed pals were endeared by Deerin, it was odd. Ravenel well, what can you say? He is the star of an embarrassing reality television show. He is a convicted felon for drugs. He recently picked up a DUI. He has a baby daughter with a woman on the TV show he is on that is young enough to be his daughter herself. Yet, he was either crazy enough or egotistical enough to run for United States Senate against his old nemesis Lindsey Graham. Even more bizarre was the accusation by his “baby mama’s” hairdresser that he assaulted her and fell into a swimming pool while holding his baby daughter. Something is wrong in the Lowcountry. Maybe the well to do just have too much time on their hands and too many drinks at the ready. Whatever the reason, Ravenel and Sanford share this year’s Fruitcake Award.
Speaking of the Lowcountry, this year’s Turkey of the Year Award goes to ex-Speaker of the SC House Bobby Harrell. A year ago, Bobby Harrell and his infamous “Speaker’s Mafia” were basically running South Carolina. Now, after thousands of tax dollars were spent, a long drawn out legal fight, and smearing others as he left politics, Harrell has pled guilty to criminal charges of misdeeds involving campaign funds and resigned his office. Thanks goes to Ashley Landis of the South Carolina Policy Council and Attorney General Alan Wilson for working hard to make sure that turkey got basted.
A turkey always seems to go with a holiday ham. The Holiday Ham Award goes to the politician who stretches things and hams it up to self-promote their political skills and achievements. There is no one who hams it up like Governor Nikki Haley. Governor Haley has never seen a jobs number she did not want to inflate or enough bad news from DSS to keep from saying how her DSS cabinet appointee “rocked.” She exaggerated and ignored reality like few politicians can. Who can blame her? As long as she blamed President Obama for her woes, the voters ate up her lines. What better way to top that campaign performance than a taxpayer paid for trip to India in which she and her husband hammed it up for cameras in traditional garb as to say “hey look at us South Carolina, we are moving on up.” Move over Sarah, here comes Nikki.
Governor Haley would not have been hamming up it in India had it not been for her opponent Vincent Sheheen’s campaign. A year ago, Sheheen’s election seemed possible. Most of the time Sheheen comes across as a nice, smart and solid guy. Haley was weak. However, as the campaign wore on and Sheheen’s negative campaign devolved into an unfortunate incident in which he was caught on video calling the Governor an unpleasant name, his once solid campaign became cooked and mashed. Thus, this year’s Mashed Potato Award goes to Vincent Sheheen.
The next couple of awards are the most important and most coveted of our Thanksgiving Political Awards.
The Cornbread Dressing Award for career achievement is given posthumously to longtime Lexington County Coroner Harry Harman. Harman served as Coroner from 1977 until his passing in April of this year. As Coroner, Harman oversaw the office as Lexington County grew from a rural place to a thriving suburban area. Harman had a reputation for professionalism and compassion in performing his job. Indeed, Harman’s lifetime of public service showed what a public servant should be like.
That brings us to the Golden Drumstick Award for overall political achievement. United States Senator Tim Scott is worth mentioning because he became the first African American elected to statewide office in South Carolina since Reconstruction. However, it is Scott’s colleague in the United States Senate, Lindsey Graham, who earned the Golden Drumstick Award this year. A year ago Senator Graham seemed like a politician in trouble. There was grumbling all around on the right and the left, and conventional wisdom was that Senator Graham was a candidate to be “primaryed.” Several candidates stepped up to challenge Graham in the Republican Primary in hopes of one of them creating a runoff with Graham and then national Tea Party money coming in and knocking him off. Graham would have none of it and won handily. Then came millionaire ex-Treasurer and reality TV star Thomas Ravenel, mentioned above, who was a “Tea Party” darling and even had one upstate GOP county chairman quietly campaigning for him. Added to the General Election fray was respected Democratic State Senator Brad Hutto of Orangeburg. Graham won handily again, and in doing so proved his mastery of Palmetto State politics and now is even mentioned in Presidential discussions. That is Golden Drumstick worthy.That is it. That is the 2014 VUI Thanksgiving Political Awards presented by Calhoun Fawls and Joe Modoc. Happy Thanksgiving Ya’ll and God Bless.