As I occasionally have to clarify here, I’m about commentary, not reporting. You want reporting, go someplace else. I haven’t been a reporter in 30 years. You want an opinion writer who’s primarily a reporter, see Cindi Scoppe. She’s one of the best. (Her column today is a good example of that quality; I may post separately about that later.) Sure, I “cover” events from time to time, just so I can get my own first-hand impressions. But mainly what I do is make observations based upon the existing body of available information.
Now Corey Hutchins with The Free Times is a reporter. You’ll recall that he was the only media type to go out and track down Alvin Greene before the primary. Too bad more people didn’t read his report at the time.
Now, he has a facts-and-figures report comparing the legislative records of Nikki Haley and Vincent Sheheen. One way to characterize what he found is in this observation he posted on Facebook:
If one were to print out the list of legislative bills in the past five years primarily sponsored by the two lawmakers running for governor in S.C., Dem Sen. Sheheen’s would weigh 9.5 ounces and GOP Rep. Haley’s would clock in at 2.4 give or take a botched staple.
Of course, that doesn’t tell you much. Maybe Vincent is just wordy. You’ll get more to chew on reading his full report headlined, “Legislative Records: Sheheen More Active, Successful Than Haley,” with the subhed, “Since 2004, Sheheen Has Sponsored 96 Bills, Haley 13.”
There are several ways to detail the disparity, but the easiest might be to look at the number of bills for which each candidate was listed as a primary sponsor and how far along each piece of legislation made it through the sausage maker.
Sheheen was elected to the state senate in 2004, the same year Haley was elected to the House. (Sheheen served in the House for four years before being elected to the Senate.) The difference in their legislative accomplishments since then is staggering.
According to state House and Senate records, during the 2005-2006 session, Sheheen sponsored 35 bills and was able to get eight of them passed. That same session, her first in office, Haley went zero for one.
The following session Sheheen went six for 30. Haley scored one out of seven.
During the latest legislative session that took place from 2009 to 2010, Gov. Mark Sanford signed two out of the 31 bills that Sheheen primarily sponsored. That year, the governor didn’t put pen to paper on any of the five bills backed by Haley.
Given these numbers, it would be hard to overstate the extent to which Sheheen — a Democrat in a Republican-dominated chamber —was able to navigate the legislative process in a more effective fashion than Haley. But from a philosophical standpoint — Haley being a candidate who wants government to do less — her rhetoric is at least somewhat consistent with her legislative record…
That’s a bit simplistic, a measure of Corey’s reportorial wish to be as fair to her as he can. What her record really underlines is the problem that I keep pointing to. In terms of accomplishing ANYTHING in dealing with the people who write the laws of the state (and in a Legislative State like ours, that thought could almost be framed as “accomplish anything, period”), Nikki Haley’s record indicates that, if anything, she’s been less successful even than Mark Sanford. Which is a very low standard indeed.
And remember, Sanford started out with a honeymoon, with a legislative leadership eager to work at long last with a governor of their own party. Those same leaders already know they don’t like Nikki.
Doug, of course, will turn that around into an attack on the legislative leaders themselves, which is satisfying to him but gets us nowhere. When you and I walk into the booth on Nov. 2, for the overwhelming majority of us, those leaders won’t be on the ballot (and the few of us who do live in their districts will find they don’t have viable opposition). What we get to pick is the governor. That’s how we get to affect the future course of our state.