This afternoon, a friend who is an experienced observer of South Carolina politics asked me whether I’d read Cindi Scoppe’s package on today’s editorial page comparing the records of Nikki Haley and Vincent Sheheen.
I said no, but I had glanced at it, which pretty much told me everything I needed to know. Or rather, what I had already known without tallying it all up. But Cindi did that for us, and the result is both superficially telling — because Vincent’s accomplishments take up so much more room on the page — and also substantively so. It tells the tale rather powerfully of who is better qualified to move South Carolina forward — or in any direction you choose. It shows that Vincent Sheheen is far more qualified, and inclined, to take governing seriously.
Of course, as I told my friend, the fact that Nikki has accomplished virtually nothing will be embraced as a positive by her nihilistic followers. They will vote for her for the same reason they voted for Strom Thurmond, and Floyd Spence — because they did very little in office — with the added Sanfordesque twist of blaming the Legislature, rather than herself, for her lack of accomplishments. But the truth is, Nikki simply hasn’t even tried to accomplish much at all.
Basically, what Nikki has done is get elected, introduce very few bills of any kind, gotten almost none of them passed because she doesn’t care about accomplishing anything, then run for governor. That’s Nikki in a nutshell.
Vincent, by contrast, has taken the business of governing as a serious responsibility, one bigger than himself and his personal ambitions.
And there’s much more to it than sheer volume. As Cindi wrote:
The easiest, though not necessarily most useful, way to compare the lists: Ms. Haley has introduced 15 substantive bills, of which one has become law and one has been adopted as a House rule. Mr. Sheheen has introduced 119 substantive bills (98 when you weed out the ones that he has re-introduced in multiple sessions), of which 18 have become statewide law and four have become local law….
What’s most striking about Mr. Sheheen’s list is its sweep, and the extent to which it reflects initiatives that either know no partisan boundaries or that easily cross them. Although his focus has been on giving governors more power to run the executive branch of government and overhauling our tax system, his bills touch on far more — from exempting small churches from some state architectural requirements and prohibiting kids from taking pagers to school to giving tuition breaks to the children of veterans and eliminating loopholes in the state campaign finance law.
This is the body of work of someone who understands what the government does and is interested in working on not just the broad structural and philosophical issues that politicians like to make speeches about but also the real-world problems that arise, from figuring out how to move police from paper to electronic traffic tickets without causing problems to writing a legal definition for “joint custody” so parents will know what to expect when they go to court.
One thing that’s notable in relation to this campaign: Ms. Haley attacks Mr. Sheheen as being anti-business because he does some workers compensation work (although his firm represents both businesses and employees), but he has written only one bill regarding workers compensation — and that was a “pro-business” bill that said employees of horse trainers didn’t have to be covered.
Cindi published this list of Nikki’s legislative record, such as it is, and this list of Vincent’s, in the paper. Vincent’s was obviously far more weighty. But in truth, she couldn’t fit all of the Sheheen record in the paper. Here’s the fuller record, including the ones that Cindi found too boring to put in the paper.
I doubt this will win over anyone, because the kind of people who would vote for Nikki view lack of experience, and the lack of the ability to accomplish anything in government, as virtues. They care about ideology, not pragmatic governance. I just publish this for the sensible, serious folk who see things differently.
Which is sort of the point of my whole blog, come to think of it…