Endorsing Brad Hutto because ‘he’s not a felon’


Knowing the editorial board as I do, I had to do a double-take this morning when I saw Sen. Brad Hutto’s picture on an endorsement editorial in The State.

Not that Sen. Hutto is a bad sort of fellow or associated with other bad sorts — his mother, a longtime devoted reader of the paper with whom I corresponded regularly when I was the EPE, is a lovely lady, and she is the first association that comes to mind when I see his name — but my general impression is that he is at odds with positions taken by the board more often than he is in agreement. Or at least when he is at odds, he’s very visibly so. Also, he’s very much a Democratic Party happy warrior, gleefully engaging in the sort of partisan behavior that tended to set our teeth on edge.

Cindi (I assume) dutifully sets out arguments as to why he should carry the Democratic standard against Lindsey Graham, including one of our default reasons for slightly preferring incumbents, as long as they haven’t misbehaved:

AS POPULAR as it is these days to praise the virtues of outsiders, of political novices, the fact is that there is always a huge danger in electing someone who has never been active in their communities or engaged in public life, much less held public office.

S.C. Democrats, of all people, should understand this, after their disastrous encounter with Alvin Greene, the unemployed Army veteran who defeated a respected retired judge in the 2010 primary to win the U.S. Senate nomination and went on to become a serious embarrassment to the party and a distant loser to Republican Jim DeMint….

But the next sentence spoke more directly to the reason Sen. Hutto got The State‘s nod:

The danger is even greater when the unknown outsider has a criminal record.

State Sen. Brad Hutto has neither of these problems. The Orangeburg attorney is not a felon, and he has served respectably as an outspoken (which is to say high-profile) member of the Legislature for nearly two decades….

“He’s not a felon” may seem to be faint praise, one likely to lead us to lament that the standard should fall so low. But as a bottom-line standard, it’s hard to argue with…

10 thoughts on “Endorsing Brad Hutto because ‘he’s not a felon’

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Doug, or someone, will likely say, “Why endorse in a case like this?” and likely add “You’re going to endorse Graham in the fall anyway.”

    The reason to endorse in a race such as this, even when you’re not enthusiastic about all of the candidates, is to help your fellow South Carolinians avoid another Alvin Greene mistake. Greene was nominated because people knew so little about him. Had his (and his opponent’s) profile been raised just a bit, he likely would not have won.

    So when there is a clear choice between the two, as there is between Messrs. Hutto and Stamper, one should point it out and explain it to voters who might not be paying much attention to this contest, since all the energy is over in the GOP primary.

    Writing about such a race that you might otherwise ignore, knowing that the Democrat will have little chance in the fall, is a clear public service.

    Oh, and as for “knowing” The State will endorse Graham in the fall — well, I certainly hope so, and I hope even more fervently that Sen. Graham is on the ballot in the fall — that’s not anything that enters into the editors’ thinking.

    It may be hard to understand seen from the outside, but we always shoved such thoughts out of our minds, forcing ourselves to concentrate on the decision at hand, not something down the road. Also, I knew better than to say, even to myself, that I “knew” we would endorse this person or never endorse that person. That’s because anything could happen before the fall rolls around.

    I never KNEW what decision I was going to make until all the pieces were in place so that I could actually make the decision, no matter how obvious it seemed to people watching from a distance…

    1. Doug Ross

      It’s a waste of editorial space to “endorse” someone you really don’t want to have the job… nevermind the fact that an endorsement in this race is meaningless — Graham is going to win no matter what The State does. The number of voters influenced by the endorsement may number in the single digits.

      It would be far better for the editorial writers to use their time and columns to address things that matter… like keeping the public informed about Bobby Harrell and Judge Manning.

      1. Brad Warthen

        And Doug, as I’ve said so many times before, it’s important to point out the difference between a candidate you’re not crazy about, and one you think would be disastrous. If you’re silent about that, it increases the chances of an Alvin Greene situation.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    The State is saying Graham likely to avoid a runoff. I am torn between trying to revive the increasingly moribund SC Dems, and voting for a halfway decent Senator, who takes lots of positions I find offensive, including hopping on the Benghazi wagon.

    Not a felon, not Alvin Greene, might do it.

  3. bud

    Brad’s writings on this endorsement business could serve as the poster child for inconsistency. You go on endlessly about the value of endorsing a candidate in a major party who will have zero chance of winning an election. And let’s be honest here, unless Lindsey Graham suffers a major health problem he will be re-elected. It’s pointless to even vote this election is completely without drama.

    On the other hand if there is a third-party candidate who is an attractive candidate who would serve the citizens of SC very well Brad will refuse to endorse her because she has zero chance of winning.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “Go on endlessly?” Really? Have you read any of my long posts? Or for that matter, any of my medium-length posts?

      This was, relatively speaking, a “by the way” sort of post…

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