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.