Sheheen and the mayors

I dropped by a press availability Vincent Sheheen had today, over at Bob Coble’s law offices, to announce the support he has received from a number of SC mayors.

The event was pretty anticlimactic, as one would assume that mayors would support Vincent. It’s pretty hard to imagine anyone who has to deal with the realities of municipal government — which is about practical public problems like filling potholes or making sure the garbage is collected, and not at all about Tea Party ideology, or any kind of ideology for that matter — actually, honestly wanting to see Nikki Haley become governor. To the extent that who the governor is matters to a mayor, one would assume that they would prefer a pragmatic guy like Vincent.

One of the few questions asked at the event was whether any of the mayors self-identified as Republican. One mayor spoke up to say that he deeply values his nonpartisan status (as any sensible person would) and won’t identify himself as being inclined to either party. Good for him. But the point was taken — were any of the mayors present taking a political risk by being there?

I kind of doubt it, although I’ll be happy to stand corrected if any of my readers more familiar with local politics in the towns whose mayors signed the resolution — above left — would like to set me straight. The names and towns are listed at right. Maybe some of these are taking a huge risk; I’m just not aware of it.

By that I don’t mean to belittle their stepping forward. Any time anyone stands up to be counted on something as important as this race for governor, I appreciate it. And I put more stock in the opinion of the embattled folks who try to run local governments in South Carolina — a state in which the Legislature does everything it can to make the job of local governments impossible — that in the views of almost anyone else.

If you’re running for governor in South Carolina, there are few people whose respect and support would mean more than that of mayors.

That said, it would even more meaningful if a few mayors who risked their political futures by doing so would step forward.

I actually know of some folks who fit that description — but I sincerely doubt they will ever step forward.

That’s because there is a considerable gap between people in their communities who have to deal with public policy on the business end, where it meets the road (and other mixed metaphors) and average voters of the sort quoted in that story in The State about Nikki’s cheerleaders in her home county — well-meaning folks who don’t live and breath public policy, and don’t really examine the matter beyond the fact that Nikki’s one of their own, or that she’s a woman, or whatever.

An elected official in a community like that is highly unlikely to come out for Vincent Sheheen. Which is a shame.

I like Steve Benjamin, and Joe Riley is probably the one elected official I admire most in South Carolina. But it’s no surprise that they would back Vincent.

What would be remarkable, and maybe help move the needle, would be for some of the less likely suspects to step forward.

11 thoughts on “Sheheen and the mayors

  1. Juan Caruso

    Brad, is there a missing page for some of the SC mayors? Big city mayor Knox White (Greenville) must surely be for Sheheen, as both are lawyers, you know.

    Except for Charleston’s Joe Riley (a lawyer) and Columbia’s Steve Benjamin (another lawyer), other signatories are mayors of, well, tiny little towns.

    Except for the last paragraph with Vincent’s name in it, I bet Haley could get at least as much majorial support for the same resolution.

    Tea party folk don’t think that way, however (btw, I am not one).
    They are masses of independent-minded R’s and D’s who are able to think for themselves, detest O’s coattails, and will turn out en masse.

    Right now, I am still undecided.
    If I find out either is a lying politician on a matter of material substance, I will vote for the other.

    When Beasley lied about being a conservative, I voted for Hodges.
    Hate it when the only real choice is between two lawyers.

  2. Matt

    Even most of my fellow politicos don’t get as excited as this about who a group of mostly small town mayors endorse–and yes, most on that list are Democrats.

    I’m sure Nikki Haley has or will have plenty of mayors supporting her, either publically or at the polls.

    Knox White is one of them. He’s supporting Haley. Probably one of the best mayors in the country. He is easily the most prominent municipally-elected Republican in South Carolina, and he enjoys solid support from the Democratic-class in Greenville as well. But he also falls into the category of mayors like Riley and Benjamin who are obviously going to support their party nominee.

    But then there is Spartanburg Mayor Junie White. He is supporting Nikki Haley too. In fact, unlike the Greenville White, Junie supported Haley in the primary. He is nonpartisan, both in terms of his elected position and his own personal life. Not a party guy either way. Interestingly enough, he has in many ways become the darling of the “progressive community” (such that it exists) in Spartanburg for really going out of his way to be outspoken on gay rights. He issued them a proclamation, it caused all sorts of controversy, but he didn’t back down from being outspoken and even marching with them at their pride festival. Oh, and he’s also Spartanburg’s second Jewish mayor in a row and active in the local Jewish community.

    And yet he supports Nikki Haley??? See, not everyone fits into Brad’s little cliches on the current SC political scene.

  3. Kathryn Fenner

    You’re being so cryptic about whom you are actually talking about–kinda frustrating.

  4. Greg Jones

    Did you Photoshop in a 30 year old picture of yourself on the left there?
    Yeah, I know, too many buttons on the coat.

  5. bud

    Just got through reading Mayor Benjamin’s proposals for improving the city in The Free Times. Un-****ing real. It was all about spending money on crap, like hiring a new Arts Coordinator. Given all the intra-city transportation issues (RR tracks, ridiculous traffic signal timing) this was really beyond absurd. Then we had this idea of creating a fund to pay for poor people’s housing. The justification – A minimum wage earner cannot afford a $675/month apartment. DUH. Who thinks up this crap.

  6. Barry

    Sorry folks- but the mayors of Clemson, Chesterfield, and McCormick are hardly screaming liberals. That sort of thing just doesn’t work in small town South Carolina.

    A major of a small town is a major because the voting public in those locations believe he/she can fix basic problems and is willing to listen to the public.

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