What an election year 2010 is turning out to be!
You know the wild rumors that led to me being asked whether I was running for governor, at the behest of Jim Hodges and Dick Harpootlian? Apparently, the candidate that rumor was really about was Dwight Drake. (UPDATE: Jim Hodges just told me he’s not backing Dwight or any other gubernatorial candidate — yet.) This is not as shocking an idea as it being ME, but it’s still pretty wild and surprising. Dwight’s done well — very well — working the corridors of power without being the front man, so this is quite a step for him.
Dwight dealt with the Legislature for Dick Riley, and has been doing the same for clients, ranging from Big Tobacco to the high school girl who sued over the stimulus (in that latter case, the aforementioned Dick H. was his co-counsel), ever since.
In fact, if you drew a spectrum of political figures in terms of their effectiveness with lawmakers and put Mark Sanford on one end, Dwight would be on the other. He’s the anti-Mark Sanford, whether you see that as good or bad.
FYI, here’s his bio from the official Nelson Mullins Web site:
Dwight F. Drake is a partner of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP in Columbia where his practice focuses on government relations, legislative issues, and disputes involving government contracts. Maintaining an active litigation practice, Mr. Drake regularly argues before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the South Carolina Supreme Court.
Since joining the firm in 1983, Mr. Drake has been at the forefront of every significant issue considered by the South Carolina General Assembly — from tort reform to the Economic Development Bond Act. Additionally, he has held numerous positions in firm leadership and management.
In 1981, Mr. Drake was named Lawyer of the Year in Government by American Lawyer, and he is widely recognized for his prominent role in governmental and political arenas. Mr. Drake has twice received The Order of the Palmetto, the highest honor bestowed by a Governor of South Carolina. Mr. Drake’s successful litigation practice led to his selection as a permanent member of the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference, and his advocacy skills are valued by legislative and litigation clients alike.
Mr. Drake served as a member of the Hodges for Governor Transition Committee. Prior to joining the firm, he served as Executive Assistant for Legislative and Political Affairs for South Carolina Governor Richard W. Riley. Mr. Drake served as legal counsel to South Carolina Governor John C. West.
In 1972, Mr. Drake earned a Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law where he was president of the Student Bar Association and held membership in Phi Delta Phi and the National Moot Court Team. Mr. Drake earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Georgia in 1967.
Later today, I’m going to a fund-raiser for Jim Rex, and see what’s going on there. But it’s clear that this election is shaping up as the opposite of 2006 for Democrats. Then, no viable candidate stepped forward, and that party ended up with Tommy Moore. This year, you have have a statewide name in Rex, an idealistic young reformer in Sheheen, and the ultimate get-it-done guy Drake. Meanwhile, the party is keeping up a steady pounding on the likely GOP candidates, hitting them with Sanford like battleships softening up the beach with artillery before an amphibious landing.
2010 is going to be very different for South Carolina.
Oh, and just so you have all the details, here’s Dwight’s announcement:
Dwight Drake Announces Run for Governor to Get South Carolina Working Again
Drake Led Efforts to Bring BMW to State and Protect Public School Funding,
Will Keep Working for Jobs and Education as Governor
COLUMBIA – Dwight Drake, an attorney and experienced public servant with a long record of fighting for job creation and improved public education, announced today that he will run for Governor of South Carolina as a Democrat in the 2010 election. Drake announced his candidacy in a video emailed to voters across the state and posted at http://www.DwightDrake.com. [NOTE FOR TV PRODUCERS: Broadcast-quality versions of the video are available for digital download at http://www.box.net/DrakeAnnouncement .]
“We need to get South Carolina working again,” said Drake. “The past eight years have been wasted, and South Carolina is now first in unemployment in the South. Mark Sanford made a lot of news when he disappeared this year, but he’s been AWOL on jobs since the day he took office.
“I know from my experience working with two Governors who made education and jobs their priorities – John West and Dick Riley – and working to bring BMW to South Carolina, what it takes to create good-paying jobs in our state.”
Drake has been a tireless advocate on behalf of education and job creation in South Carolina. He headed up the successful, bipartisan effort to attract BMW to locate in South Carolina and later to expand their operations in the state, resulting in more than 15,000 new jobs for South Carolinians.
Drake also helped lead Choose Children First, a coalition of business leaders, lawmakers, and supporters of public education who came together to defeat Governor Mark Sanford’s attempt to drain money away from public schools with a voucher program.
Most recently, Drake represented South Carolina students Casey Edwards and Justin Williams in their legal fight to force Governor Sanford to accept federal funds for economic recovery and to put that funding to work for South Carolina’s public schools. Both students appear in Drake’s announcement video and speak about the work he did to make their victory possible.
Drake’s years in public service include serving as legal counsel to former Governor John West and as former Governor Dick Riley’s top legislative aide, where he helped pass landmark legislation, including the Education Improvement Act, as well as efforts supporting early childhood development and state government reform.
Drake’s first priority as Governor will be bringing jobs to the state, after years of neglect by Governor Sanford.
“The first thing a Governor should do when he wakes up in the morning is think, ‘What can I do today to bring good jobs to South Carolina?'” said Drake. “And the last thing he should do at night is ask himself, ‘Did I do enough today on jobs?’
“My mother and father taught me always to tell the truth and do my best. Well, the truth is we’re not doing our best in South Carolina. That’s why I’ve decided to run for Governor.”
Dwight Drake is a native of Spartanburg County, where his father worked in the mills and Drake joined him to help pay for his college education. He is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam, and he earned his law degree from the University of South Carolina. Drake lives in Columbia with his wife Beth, a federal prosecutor, and their two daughters, Marshall, 12, and Eliza, 9.
Drake will hold a press conference call at 1:00pm TODAY to discuss the announcement of his candidacy for Governor.