Robert Barber, lieutenant governor


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.


8 thoughts on “Robert Barber, lieutenant governor

  1. Dave

    “Being a Gamecock fan is good preparation for being a Democrat in South Carolina” — Ouch, that one must hurt for the Gamecockers and the Democrats. Although I may substitute roadkill for Gamecock fan in that phrase.

    Both pictures are not flattering. In the first one he looks like a defendant receiving his sentencing. In the second he looks like he just got life. Also, what is that big yellow thing on the finger of his left hand?

  2. Chris W

    Your piece was interesting and informative. Especially in that Barber seems only to be “mature and uninteresting”. No doubt he is a good man, and I am thankful he is running for office…we need more good men and women running for EVERY office…but his lack of vision, and most specifically his apparent lack of interest (or zeal) to preside over the Senate is telling. That is the most important facet of the job.
    It is easy (and simplistic) to dismiss the Lt. Gov’s job as unimportant…everyone seems to do just that. But the Lt. Gov sets the schedule and tempo in the Senate, and issues HUNDREDS of rulings every year…and in their sum renders the Lt Gov a very powerful man. The person that has that job should LOVE that portion of the Job. The current it Gov does…this opponent does not…and seems not to have the personality for it.
    My vote stays with Andre. I hope Robert Barber stays involved…but not as Lt. Gov.

  3. bud

    Chris W, you sound like you’re describing a cheerleader not the Lt. Governor. He doesn’t really need to love the job, so much as he needs to respect the importance of the position and do so with DIGNITY. This is an even easier vote that the Comptroller General. I’m going with Barber.

  4. ChrisW

    Hi Bud,
    I understand what you are saying. You sound like a democrat, so I expect you to vote for Barber. I am a republican…so Andre is my man.
    But having said that, I just don’t understand why people make light of that job. I know that position very well, and it is not easy one. Ask anyone that has stood in a similar forum, with nearly 50 self satisfied egomaniacs (all thinking they should be the Governor or US Senator) and having to make split second rulings…knowing that each one has consequences. For example…rule one way, you serve the people on a small matter, but cause huge strife in the Senate…causing harm to working relationships that had previously been profitable for the people oh large matters…so in the end what is the correct ruling? What do you do? You have 30 seconds to make the ruling, or it becomes a big deal…and then the second guessing begins.
    All I am saying, regardless of who you or I vote for…is that this job is far more serious and important than is often portrayed. Perhaps Barber will grow to love that side of the job…if elected, I hope he does and I wish him the best. But to think the job is not important, and that zeal and enthusiasm in which the Lt. Gov presides over the Senate is not important, in my humble opinion…is just wrong.
    PS…this race looks like a “clean” and issues oriented race. So we have can be thankful for THAT.

  5. bud

    I usually vote for the Dems but I’ll probably vote for Sanford in the Governor’s race. Fiscal responsibility is such an important consideration for state governement and our current governor sticks to his guns pretty well on that.
    As for Lt. Gov. party affiliation is not all that important, just give me someone with a little common sense.

  6. Gonzalo Leon

    To All,
    I went to high school with Robert Barber. I don’t know much about his politics and I don’t live in south Carolina anymore. And my political philosophy is Libertarianism, one of those close to anachism. So, I believe I can add my two cents about the man without a shred of political bias. He is a nice fellow, consciencious, friendly, remembers details about those around him, even years after. At high school reunions, he was one of the few who engaged in some serious conversation, along with the light stuff, and was always interested in hearing one’s opinions. Even when one shrply disagreed with him, he was always contained in his demeanor. In high school, he was the same way–on and off the basketball court. What a difference from the others I have known for a long time who have made near the top in South Carolina politics–the Eckstroms, all of whom I know much better. Just in the attitude and character he wins by a mile. I look forward to visiting with Robert in Charleston after the elections.

  7. Bran

    OK, whoever voted for Andre Bauer is a jackass! You are the immature one! I happen to know Robert Barber very well. He is one of the most respectable persons I have ever known, so obviously you have no clue what you are talking about! You are an asshole! Andre Bauer is creepy he has a myspace that says he has an athletic body type! Ok, young kids have myspaces and that is disgusting. He has been caught speeding multiple times and crashed and airplane. Talk about maturity… he has none!


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