Tonight I dropped by a Lexington County GOP confab at Hudson’s BBQ (last time I was there, it was to see Mike Huckabee when he still had a shot at the presidential nomination), and pretty much every member of the county delegation was there except for the two Nikkis (Haley and Setzler).
It was very hot — SO hot that even a seersucker suit was too much, so I went out and left my coat and tie in the car. Then, when it was all over, and the lawmakers had answered constituents’ questions about legislation and such, I went up and asked Jake Knotts about our missing governor.
I asked Jake because, near as I could tell from the reporting at thestate.com, he was the one who raised the hue and cry about the governor running off to who knows where in a SLED car last Thursday — leaving his security detail behind.
The senator said “when he didn’t show up the next day or the day after that, I called Chief Lloyd” at SLED. He said he raised to Reggie Lloyd the idea that it seemed improper for Jake — a former cop — to be driving around in a cop car equipped with blue lights when “he’s not a sworn officer.”
The senator also kept returning to the point that the governor was gone “on a Father’s Day weekend, and his wife says she didn’t know where he was.”
Further, Jake believes the governor was remiss in his constitutional responsibility by not notifying the lieutenant governor of his absence. And unlike the folks in the lt. gov’s office, the senator is completely unsatisfied by the governor’s chief of staff, who is not an elected official, saying he knows where the governor is.
Jake says he and the governor have had their differences — which may count as his understatement of the evening — but the gov had never done anything to concern him to this extent. “I’m really serious about his mental state,” he said, adding that he knew that the governor had had a rough time — with the stimulus battle, with seven years in office “with little to show,” with having gone 0 for 10 on his recent vetoes — and if he “wants to go on a sabbatical, I have no problem with that,” if “he turns the helm over to the lieutenant governor.”
Just FYI, folks, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, unlike the governor, is a political ally of Sen. Knotts. He kept praising Andre for not bucking his security (security which the governor believes the lt. gov. shouldn’t have, but that’s another battle he keeps losing). I said something about how I certainly feel better knowing someone other than Andre is driving. That wasn’t exactly the point Jake was trying to make, but he didn’t argue with me about it.
Jake made the point a couple of times that, if only for sake of emergency preparedness and Homeland Security issues, someone official should know where the governor is, which is one reason for him to have SLED agents with him. “The people of South Carolina’s security shouldn’t be jeopardized because the governor doesn’t want security.”
When I asked Jake to give me his updated contact numbers in case I needed to reach him later, he gave me four of them, adding, “And I guarantee you my wife knows where I’m at.”
Summing up the situation, Sen. Knotts said of the missing governor, “He’s suffering from the same thing he suffered from with the Senate — lack of communication.”
The senator added some remarks about how he’d like to see the governor turn things around and be more successful with lawmakers in his last years in office, but expressed doubt that will happen: “He’s done built that fence too high now.”
Anyway, for what it’s worth, that’s what the guy who was apparently the first official to ask, “Where’s the governor?” had to say about it tonight…