Sunday preview: A look at gubernatorial field for 2010 (all one of it)

For once, I am ahead of the game. I have now interviewed ALL of the declared candidates for governor in 2010, and have written about them in my Sunday column.

Of course, there's only one so far: Sen. Vincent Sheheen, Democrat from Camden.

I don't know who will be the next candidate to declare, but I'll tell you who's running the hardest among the undeclared: Attorney General Henry McMaster, Republican. Hardly a day goes by that I don't get a release about him speaking to this or that Republican group in some nook or cranny of the state. In fact, I got this one just yesterday about his appearing on Sen. Sheheen's home turf:

COLUMBIA – Attorney General Henry McMaster will be honored for his service to Kershaw County at a BBQ dinner and rally this Friday, Feb. 20th at 6:00 pm.  The rally will take place at: KCMC Health Resource Center, 124 Battleship Rd, Camden.  The public is invited to attend.  There will be a media availability immediately following the rally.

In fact, looking at the old clock on the wall, it looks like I'm missing that as I type this. And that would have been a good one for me to go to, had it not been on a Friday. I look forward to seeing Henry and/or Vincent and whoever else out there stumping soon, because we can't get to 2010 soon enough as far as I'm concerned. I'm tired of reading AP stories describing network news interviews with Mark Sanford promoting his (shudder) national ambitions, just so I can find out what our governor's up to.

One of the things my Sunday column talks about is the candidate's views on government restructuring. On the same day, we'll have a column co-authored by him and Anton Gunn on the same subject (continuing a string of me writing columns related to op-eds that day, such as last week's on Mark Sanford, and the recent one on DHEC). As further background material on that subject, here's a post from a little over a year ago from when Vincent came to talk about his restructuring plan (yes, I actually wrote about something other than the presidential primaries in January 2008), and here's video that goes with that.

And just to show you the subject's been on him mind a while, here's a 2007 post that's sort of related.

Of course, he hasn't been thinking about restructuring as long as I have; at least I hope not (even though he does claim to be something of a "geek."). He was in college when we did the "Power Failure" series.Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have here a gubernatorial candidate who was born in the year I graduated from high school. I still remember vividly our editorial board interview with the first gubernatorial candidate I'd ever interviewed who was younger than I was — David Beasley in 1994. Since then, every governor we've had has been younger than I am.

And now this. These kids today…

17 thoughts on “Sunday preview: A look at gubernatorial field for 2010 (all one of it)

  1. Ralph Hightower

    Six hundred and ninety one days to a new governor.
    Mark your calendar for the inauguration: January 12, 2011

  2. Tim

    McMaster is a loser. A full time politician.
    Bauer will implode when the public gets a look at his Senior Shield crooked as hell financial reocrds.
    Barret is unknown outside of his district. And will have a hard time exlaining some of his votes.
    The Democrat. Well maybe, just maybe. Could he be worse that the losers above?

  3. martin

    Well, I hope you don’t let restructuring be the ONLY issue, like you did the first time Sanford ran. Let’s face it, EVERYONE should have seen that, based on his (what?) record in Congress, there was nothing there but talk. Maybe we should change the Constitutional qualifications for Congress to include municipal or county and state elective office experience.
    I voted for him the first time, too. I was working for a cabinet agency that Jim Hodges politicized worse than had ever been done by the legislature prior to restructuring. Hodges’ director needed to be gone. Sanford has now appointed, not one, but 2 losers and the agency is in the toilet. And, doing a lot of things that Sanford opposes which proves to me he has no interest in monitoring what is going on at these agencies. But man, he sure loves to talk when a non-cabinet agency hits the news.
    How/why do we keep electing grandstanding, publicity hounds like McMaster and Condon as Attorney General? Other than they are perpetual also-rans for governor (or nomination for). When was the first time Henry ran for governor? Seems like about 30 years ago. Was he still a Democrat?
    I don’t know much about Vincent Sheheen yet, but his kinfolk Fred and Bob have been, as far as I know, honorable public servants. Too rare in our state.
    I’m over my 33 lines, but this Judge Goode mess has reinforced for me that nothing will change, including restructuring, until we have term limits for the legislature (and Mayor Bob is a good example of the same for every elective office in the state). Until these legislators are sent back home and replaced with people who care about improving the state, not just enriching themselves, nothing will change.
    It all depends on the voters and I am not hopeful.

  4. Doug Ross

    Here’s a puzzler… in today’s opinion article co-written by Brad’s new BFF Vincent Sheheen and Anton Gunn, they write:
    “We are failing on the front end, and on the back end. We lack the ability to root out waste, fraud and incompetence. And when we finally do discover problems, we lack the ability to adequately investigate and understand the causes to prevent them from ever happening again.”
    Now what is confusing is that when people like Lee and I write the same thing about our government, we are branded as cynical libertarian/radical conservatives. The picture Sheheen/Gunn paints is pretty bleak, isn’t it? A government full of waste and fraud from top to bottom? What’s different?
    The Sheeheen-Gunn solution? Even MORE government spending to police the crooks in the government. The old “foxes guarding the henhouse approach”.
    The solution is simpler: term limits and cutting taxes so there is less money to steal and waste. Let the crooks fight over a smaller pot.

  5. Lee Muller

    The question Brad Warthen failed to ask Mr. Sheheen and Mr. Gunn is, “If you want to pose as reformers, why haven’t you done anything as legislators to “to root out waste, fraud and incompetence”?

  6. Tiredofthegoodoleboys

    If you really cared about restructuring, you wouldn’t have endorsed Jake Knotts last year.
    If restructuring doesn’t pass this year, it will be because of that anti-restructuring good ole boy that you endorsed even while acknowleding he was a bully, a liar, and a crook. (See today’s DHEC story for futher proof that you were at least right with most of your assessment.)
    As Kevin Fisher pointed out in an excellent piece last year, you and Cindi were more concerned with the fact that Jake’s opponent was supported by some folks who support increased school choice than you were about anything else.
    Keep in mind that our school system is so poorly run that we spend more per student than 24 other states in the country, have increased spending by $1 billion over the past four years, PLUS did a $1 billion bond bill earlier this decade…but apparently can’t get a working heating and air system in some of our schools per Kathleen Parker’s column today.
    But no, you won’t consider an alternative to the current system failing another generation of our students at a high cost to the taxpayers. So, you and your editorial board endorse Jake – the #1 opponent to the restructuring we need.
    With that endorsement you lost the credibility to write about this topic unless it is to admit that you clearly don’t care about it as much as you pretend to.

  7. Brad Warthen

    Well, unfortunately, after this big buildup, my column failed to post today. And I’m rather busy today and don’t have time to go all the way in to the office to fix the problem, so I guess I won’t get it posted until Monday morning.

  8. bud

    We don’t have to speculate, theorize, hypothesize, guess or conjecture what would happen if we restructure state government to allow the governor to choose his cabinet. We already have run the beta version of a governor appointed agency head. That was done in the 90s when Beasley first appointed the head of DPS. That was a total fiasco. He then fired the idiot for cause. Then, in one of the most egregious quid pro-quos in the history of state politics Hodges traded a political endorsement in order to re-appoint the same failed department head.
    The results are well documented. Traffic deaths soared in a direct relationship to declining trooper strength. In 1992 SC was actually making some progress compared to the national average for the traffic fatality rate. That was reversed as a decade long deterioration of highway safety ensued. I’ve posted the numbers here before on a previous post.
    To say the least I’m not sold on this cabinet form of government as any sort of panecea for the ills of state government. Frankly it’s probably best just to leave things as they are. History does not provide support for restructuring along the lines The State calls for.

  9. Brad Warthen

    OK, I thought of a way that someone on duty in our newsroom could get it posted without too much trouble, so I called and talked someone through it, and it’s up now. Enjoy.

    Oh, and in answer to what bud just posted, I’ll point out, yet again, that the Legislature pointedly left the Department of Public Safety out of the semi-demi-hemi-Cabinet it created in 1993, so basically the example that he puts forth repeatedly as PROOF that a Cabinet cannot work is a non sequitur.

  10. Doug Ross

    I’ll believe Mr. Sheheen is serious about cleaning up the waste, fraud, and abuse in the current government when he or Mr. Gunn provide the names of the people who are responsible for it.
    Or do we have to wait until 2010 before they will do the right thing?

  11. bud

    Safety out of the semi-demi-hemi-Cabinet it created in 1993, so basically the example that he puts forth repeatedly as PROOF that a Cabinet cannot work is a non sequitur.
    Rather than just continuing to make this claim why don’t you explain how DPS in the 90s is substantively different from a cabinet agency? The governor appoints the head of the agency head. The governor has the power to fire the agency head for cause. The only difference I see is that the agency head does not serve at the pleasure of the governor. Is that really an important difference? I don’t think so but it’s not even arguable that DPS was much closer to cabinet status than it was before restructuring.
    As a part of the old South Carolina Department of Highways and Public Transportation the highway patrol and other safety components flourished with very progressive and effective highway safety counter measures. Safety was a high priority with trooper strength at record levels during the early 90s. And the results showed what could be done. In spite of the many obsticals faced by the old SCDHPT, including much meddling by the general assembly and over-the-top criticism by The State, traffic deaths declined sharply to 807 in 1992. Our mileage death rate was actually approaching the national average. Since then deaths increased and the death rate remained constant while the national death rate declined through 1999:
    year deaths
    1987 – 1087
    1988 – 1033
    1989 – 996
    1990 – 983
    1991 – 890
    1992 – 807
    1993 – 845
    1994 – 847
    1995 – 882
    1995 – 930
    1996 – 903
    1997 – 1001
    1998 – 1064
    The fact that 2 governors were able to hire the same idiotic director suggests that a governor can and will appoint cronies and incompetents to fill his cabinet. Instead of a non-sequitor as Brad continues to claim the DPS example is relevant and very damning evidence that a cabinet form of government is not the answer.

  12. Working Tommy C

    Tiredofthegoodoleboys wrote:
    “But no, you won’t consider an alternative to the current system failing another generation of our students at a high cost to the taxpayers. So, you and your editorial board endorse Jake – the #1 opponent to the restructuring we need.
    “With that endorsement you lost the credibility to write about this topic unless it is to admit that you clearly don’t care about it as much as you pretend to.”
    Excellent comments, sir!

  13. Greg Flowers

    The editorial board really should have sat that one out. The Knotts endorsement, no matter how well rationalized, now serves as a punchline for cocktail party jokes.
    That being said, you are absolutely, unquestionably right that the head of the executive branch should select the heads of the executive departments and they should serve at the pleasure of the Governor. That way, if they mess up, the Gov. removes them or the people remove the Gov. at the next quadrennial election. Nice direct accountability. As far as boards and commissions go, we probably need a relatively small (9 members?)state Board of Regents for all state post secondary education. All members should be appointed by the Governor and should in no way be tied to particular institutions. There may be a need for an Ethics Commission but could not a portion of the much proposed Office of Inspector General perform this task even though it does involve looking at officials at all levels of government.
    The only statewide elected office should be that of Governor. How many electors could enumerate the respective functions of Treasurer and Comptroller? Or of the Secretary of State? In Tennessee, the senior officer of the Senate fulfills the office of Lt Gov and if he succeeds to the Gov’s office there is a special election in short order. People do not carefully consider their vote when they do not understand or appreciate the importance of the office.
    While I am on a roll, now that we have county councils statewide (did not used to be that way, but that’s another story) there is no reason to elect any county officials other than the Council. Why is the sheriff elected and the police chief selected by council? No good reason that I can see. Barbara Scott was an almost universally respected Clerk of Court who was defeated by an electorate which probably has little or no idea of what the Clerk does.
    Dramatic consolidation of school districts needs to occur as well as consideration some consolidation of counties and in some instances, consolidation of cities and counties. The day of special purpose districts has come to an end, a workable way of dissolving single county special purpose districts and assigning their powers to the county needs to be developed now.
    Annexation statues need to be amended so that contiguous urbanized areas can easily be included in the same urban unit.
    Local governments should be allowed to impose any type of fee or tax their electorate will stomach in order to provide services.
    There should be no legislators on the Judicial Screening Committee.
    That is my screed de jour. It started out on point and wandered a bit but if adopted would, in my opinion greatly approve government in SC.

  14. Greg Flowers

    The Knotts endorsement, no matter how well rationalized, now serves as a punchline for cocktail party jokes.
    Upon reflection that verdict was unduly harsh on my part though I do not understand why any endorsement needed to be made under the circumstances.


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