SC Democrats keep having to import talent from outside

Or at least, they keep doing it, whether they need to or not.

First, a bit of news you may have already heard about someone we know — Amanda Alpert Loveday, who was the executive director of the state party, but who sent out contact info today for her new gig:

I am writing you today to say hello from the office of Congressman Jim Clyburn.  As most of you know, I have made the transition to the Congressman’s office but wanted to send you all my new contact information. …

I look forward to hitting the ground running for Congressman Clyburn and if you need anything from the office or the Congressman, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

In light of what I posted earlier today, it sounds like Amanda’s making a good move, in terms of job longevity. So we are happy for her.

I’m somewhat bemused that her replacement is from out of state — a Floridian, name of Conor Hurley.

Nothing against Mr. Hurley personally; I’m sure he’ll be a fine addition to South Carolina. But the fact that he is from out of state is another illustration of a phenomenon I’ve been seeing in Democratic Party lately — the pros who get hired to run campaigns, or to run the party, tend not to be home-grown.

I’ve been concerned lately that the current Vincent Sheheen campaign has a generic, national-Democrat sort of feel to it. One of Sen. Sheheen’s greatest strengths is that his political roots in the state are about as deep as you’re likely to find among currently active Democrats, and his understanding of problems that are peculiarly South Carolinians is exemplary. In 2010, that showed, and I think it had something to do with why he did so well against Nikki Haley, in spite of that being the Year of the Tea Party, and Nikki being their chosen darling.

This time, so far, I’m seeing a campaign that feels more generic, and national. And for a Democrat in South Carolina, the modifier “national” is the kiss of death.

I don’t want to lay this entirely at the feet of his out-of-stater campaign manager, Andrew Whalen. After all, the 2010 campaign manager was brought in from out of state as well. But there’s something that has kept this campaign from feeling like it’s about South Carolina. (And you’re not going to get that homegrown feel from the incumbent, whose idea of the way to run against any Democrat is to say, “Obama! Obama! Obama!”)

Once, a job like party executive director was a nice stepping stone for a young South Carolinian coming up in the party. It still is that over in the GOP, which has hordes of young up-and-comers competing to enter politics like the Three Stooges all trying to crowd through a narrow doorway at the same time.

I was reminded of this just the other day. I was in Aiken for an event at which the SC Center for Fathers and Families was introducing itself to the community (it’s opening a new program there), and a guy I hadn’t seen in a long time came up and reintroduced himself: “Chris Verenes.” It took a moment or so for my brain’s software to locate him in the archives, but I came up with the right answer: Chris was E.D. of the Democratic Party back when I started as Governmental Affairs Editor of The State, in 1987.

Now, he’s president of Security Federal Bank in Aiken.

I was recently reminded of another young Democrat from those days — the one who ran Mike Dukakis’ campaign here in SC. His name was Det Bowers. He’s now running for the U.S. Senate — as a Republican.

I don’t know where the next generation of Democrats is coming from in SC, if there’s going to be one. But when it comes to Democrats willing to turn pro and run campaigns… well, they’re already pretty thin on the ground, it seems.

6 thoughts on “SC Democrats keep having to import talent from outside

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    There’s a Verenes Business Park out by the Aiken airport….they must have flipped him, the Aiken GOP

  2. Doug Ross

    This news is pretty much the final blow for the Sheheen campaign… he would be smart to drop out now and let someone else in the party gain some credibility for the next election in 2018. The reality is that only a black Democratic candidate would be able to mobilize enough of a turnout to make it interesting.

    “South Carolina’s unemployment dropped slightly to 6.4 percent in January from 6.6 percent the month before. It was the eighth month in a row the S.C. jobless rate declined and the second consecutive month that the number of unemployed in the Palmetto State was below the national jobless rate, according to a report from the state Department of Employment and Workforce.”

    Read more here:

    1. Doug Ross

      Not that I think Haley has anything to do with the unemployment rate… but it’s hard to drum up anti-incumbent sentiment when the biggest thing you can attack is a cyber hacking incident that apparently didn’t harm many (if any) people.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        Well, we put our credit on lockdown, but I am not happy that all our personal data was released, negligently.

        1. Doug Ross

          And you blame Haley for the hacking? sure, they didn’t handle it well after it was discovered – but what would Vincent Sheheen do to prevent it from happening again? Will he be involved in cyber security?

  3. Ralph Hightower

    I can state as a fact that the national political parties create political commercials for state offices.

    Twenty years ago, I was in Iowa; they have the same gubernatorial election cycle as South Carolina. When I was in Iowa, I saw the Republican ad that featured Terry Branstad’s wife talking about the virtues of her husband and what he has to offer to Iowa. The Democrat’s ad for governor was a Black and White PowerPoint presentation on “Wrong on the Issues. Wrong for Iowa.” The issues were related to Iowa.

    I got home the Sunday before the South Carolina general election. What did I see on TV?
    The Republican ad showed David Beasley’s wife talking about her husband. The Democrat’s ad was a PowerPoint presentation “Wrong on the Issues. Wrong for South Carolina.” The issues were South Carolina related. Resting after that thousand mile journey from Iowa to South Carolina, I had a flashback thinking that I was still in Iowa.

    1994 was the year of cookie cutter political ads for governor.

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