I got this e-mail this morning from Zeke Stokes of Columbia:
While I agree whole-heartedly with your assessment that South Carolina’s schools are improving and that we must continue the progress, I have to take issue with your implication that only one candidate in this race is equipped to do that. I mentioned to you at Galivant’s Ferry that I am running Jim Rex’s race for State Superintendent of Education, and regardless of who the Republican nominee is, South Carolinians will have a qualified, electable alternative in Jim come November, yet you didn’t mention that in your column on Sunday.
I ran Inez Tenenbaum’s races for this seat, and she has proven that this is a race in which South Carolinians will take a strong look at the candidates’ credentials before considering the Party to which they belong, as evidenced by the fact that she carried the ticket in 1998, ahead of strong showings by Fritz Hollings and Jim Hodges, as well as in 2002, when most Democrats lost their races for statewide office. If, before the primary, there is an opportunity to make this point in your coverage of the race, I hope you will do that as well.
In addition, I have to take issue with your assertion that Democrats should cross over to help Mr. Staton in his primary. Party primaries are designed to allow each party to select its candidates and to put forth the candidate that it thinks will best represent its views in the general election. Democrats have done that in this race, by choosing to nominate Jim Rex without a primary. In fact, when Jim entered the race, the primary field cleared, in part because his strong education background, coupled with the support of people like Dick Riley and Inez Tenenbaum, made him the obvious choice for Democrats. On June, 13 Republicans have the same opportunity, and Democrats ought to allow that process to unfold without crossing over to "sabotage" the outcome.
I hope you will take a fresh look at this race after the primary, regardless of who Republicans choose. As always, Jim and I are available to speak with you should you have a need to do so. The best way to reach me is on my cell at (deleted for blog purposes).
I replied to Zeke as follows:
My column had nothing to do with your guy; he’s not, last time I looked, seeking the contested nomination. I would have mentioned the three also-rans before I would have mentioned a guy who’s not even in a primary. And I had no space to waste on them.
Maybe you want to run against Mrs. Floyd (maybe to fire up your base or something), but given the chance that she could well win the whole thing, I’d much rather not see South Carolina take such a risk.
We’re far better off with a choice between Staton v. Rex.
Do you disagree?
You seem to be concerned about parties and their prerogatives; I despise parties, and the sooner voters divest themselves from all partisan identification whatsoever, the better off our state and country will be. I care about what’s good for South Carolina, not what’s good for a party.
By the way, I plan to post this exchange on my blog (I hate to spend time typing if readers can’t see it). I’ll leave out your cell number. I’ll be glad to put up any responses you have, as well.
I look forward to talking with you AFTER this mess is over. One hill at a time.
— Brad Warthen
That’s it, for now.