I just got off the horn with Jack Bass, the College of Charleston professor, who will be joining me tonight on ETV at 10. He was sort of wondering whether there’ll still be anything to say that late, what with apparently light turnout and these slam-bang fancy new voting machines we’re all using.
At midafternoon, he said he thinks that while he will still probably win, Gov. Mark Sanford may get a rebuke from voters in the form of a lower-than-expected margin.
"I just sense something."
Jack said he’s hearing some of the sort of same anecdotal stories I’ve been hearing about folks who had not previously intended to do so voting for Dr. Oscar Lovelace.
Jack thinks the doc started to surge forward a bit last week, about the time the governor refused to debate him. Well, if so, there would certainly be justice in that.
"It almost sounded like Strom Thurmond after he turned 70," said the co-author of a popular biography on the late legend. Switching to his Strom voice: "Ah don’ want tuh give mah uhPOHnunt pubLISSity."
A couple or three other factors he sees likely to give the governor a less-than-satisfying victory:
- Bobby Harrell’s column from Sunday. "One could interpret that in part almost as a signal to all the other House members" from the Speaker, Jack said. The question is, what would all those Republican lawmakers who don’t like governor anyway do in response to such a message? "Are they gonna just sit on their hands, or are they gonna get on the phone and call a few friends?"
- Erstwhile Democrats voting in the Republican primary. And why wouldn’t they, Katon Dawson’s objections to the contrary? Unlike the Dem primary, the multiple hot Republican contests give Democrats and Independents, as well as Republicans, "something to vote for or vote against," a chance to "make a difference." Democrats see nothing really to care about in their primary. Governor? "Well, if you get Willis that’s fine and if you get Moore that’s fine," says Jack in describing the likely typical Democratic attitude. "You get a B candidate either way."
- Finally, there’s the matter of Mr. Sanford being out of his element as an incumbent. He’s always run as the outsider. "Now he’s the insider trying to be the outsider," and obviously awkward at it. (I would submit his lame column last week, to which Mr. Harrell’s was a devastatingly effective response, as evidence of that. You might also want to contrast it to the way Dr. Lovelace chose to address voters in the last week of the election.)
So what about that turnout? Well, as I gazed at the dismal view out my window (below), I asked Jack how the weather was in Charleston. "Heavy overcast at the moment," he said. "I see somebody walking past my window with an umbrella."
The governor coasted through this non-contest. It will be foolish to over analyze the results of this.