OK, for those of y’all who saw it — how did the debate with the GOP treasurer candidates go? Dave and Lee have already started off with their impressions on this post, but I thought I’d make the invitation more explicit — and share some of my own thoughts — with this one.
Here are my initial impressions from the inside:
- Thomas Ravenel seemed to have dusted off some leftover speeches from his Senate race. Most of what he said was fairly generic, one cliche after another from the libertarian wing (which now calls itself "conservative") of the Republican Party — time to stop the gravy train, they do nothing but spend, smaller government, etc. And excuse me, but how is he not a politician? Just because he hasn’t been actually elected to anything yet? He’s coming in for his interview Wednesday, but this initial impression of him as a treasurer candidate wasn’t great.
- Rick Quinn seemed to be there to fight with Thomas. Or rather, Thomas seemed to be there to fight with Rick. Whatever. There’s some kind of feud going on between the Quinns and the Ravenel-Andre Bauer cabal. I think. It’s confusing. Beyond that, Rick was the second most relevant and businesslike guy there. His experience in the Legislature, working with the nitty-gritty of how tax and spending policies are made, showed in his performance.
- Jeff Willis was the only guy who thought this job should continue to be elected rather than appointed, and for me that’s a problem. But at least he wants the comptroller general to be appointed (the opposite of Rick’s position). He also likes the Budget and Control Board; his only beef is that they don’t get along well enough. So interference by the legislative branch in executive decisions would be OK as long as there was total collusion? I like his repeatedly bringing up Home Rule — somebody needs to — but I’m not sure what it has to do with the treasurer’s office.
- Greg Ryberg was the winner of this one in my book — and not just because, as one of the ETV guys remarked afterward, he remembered that most of the people watching this were at home, and he actually addressed them. He gave the strong impression — accurate, as far as I’ve been able to tell — that he’s given more thought to the responsibilities of the office, and his own qualifications for that office, than any of the others. He came across as the grownup in the room.
Oh, I should add — when I ran into Mr. Ryberg in the makeup room, he told me he said billions, not millions, last week in terms of the money S.C. lost in getting into the stock market too late. That was a reference to the end of my column this morning. Fair enough.
And did anyone else go, "Say What?" when Mr. Ravenel said he supported "PPR… Put Parents In Charge?"