Monday, 11 a.m. — Robert Barber is pretty much the anti-Andre Bauer, so I guess it’s fitting that he’s running against him. You might say that if there were an Andre Bauer on the Bizarro planet, Mr. Barber would be it.
That, of course, means he’s not all that interesting. You can come up with all sorts of things to say about a meeting with Andre, but not so with the challenger. Unlike Andre, he says grownup stuff that makes you say, "Yes, that’s true," and you don’t even bother writing it down.
He kept saying stuff like, "I think I bring a level of maturity and judgment to the office that will hold me in good stead." But he won’t trash his opponent. Maturity and judgment are so-o-o-o borring, don’t you think?
Here’s some stuff I did write down:
- The former legislator is a lawyer, but hasn’t practiced for about a dozen years. He’s been a restaurateur for the last few, having good success with his place down in the Lowcountry — good enough that he could give up his give up his lobbying business in order to run.
- He doesn’t think the Gov Lite should have to be elected on the same ticket with the governor. So what if they aren’t of the same party, he reasons? He can work with anybody, just as he works with all sorts in running his business.
- He thinks the superintendent of education should remain separate, too. In this, he admittedly is giving into typical Democratic fear of what the current governor would do to public education if he had control of it. When I protest that we shouldn’t choose our system of government based on temporary circumstances or particular individuals, he says "my eye is more on personalities and attitudes" than on abstractions.
- The main themes he has stressed in his campaign are "some values that I think are not always applied in Columbia:" Hard work, spiritual values, fiscal accountability, "an element of compassion, and certainly a strong dose of common sense."
- Before he was a lawyer or a legislator or a lobbyist, he was a preacher. He was ordained as a Methodist minister, but after serving a couple of churches, decided that there were "some limitations to parish ministry I had not anticipated."
- He’s running, as much as anything, because he has been dissatisfied with how the Office on Aging — that agency the Legislature gave Andre to make it look like he had something to do — was being run. In probably the most direct criticism he would offer of his opponent, Mr. Barber said he spends his time on "a lot of speechifying and a lot of visits that may have a lot more to do with being re-elected" than with serving the elderly. (Gasp! Do ya think?)
- He’s as surprised as I have been at the sudden ramp-up in feeling about the immigration issue, even though there has been no sudden change in the status of the issue to have provoked it.
- When asked what he would do if suddenly called on to serve as governor (the lieutenant governor’s one serious constitutional function), he has trouble envisioning what he would do. That was probably his most disturbing comment.
Oddly, the thing he did that impressed me the most was after the meeting was over. He and I were chatting about nothing in particular (he was saying small-talk things like, "Being a Gamecock fan is good preparation for being a Democrat in South Carolina"), and I stepped over to turn out one of the table lamps in the boardroom out of long habit. Without saying a word about it, he stepped over and turned out the lamp’s twin on the other side of the room.
No big deal, but no candidate’s ever taken it upon himself to do that before. Maybe he really is a responsible grownup.