Rep. Beth Bernstein won’t run for Lourie’s Senate seat

Beth Bernstein at her campaign kickoff last year, with the back of Joel Lourie's head in the foreground at right.

Beth Bernstein at her campaign kickoff last year, with the back of Joel Lourie’s head in the foreground at right.

Well, it looks like Joel Lourie’s departure from the S.C. Senate won’t produce a Democratic primary contest between two House incumbents. Mia McLeod is going to run, but Beth Bernstein is not:

Bernstein: How I Can Best Serve 
Columbia, SC – State Representative Beth Bernstein released the following statement in regards to a possible bid for Senate District 22, currently held by Joel Lourie, who announced last week that he won’t run for re-election.
“Leadership.  An interesting concept and one not easily grasped.  In fact, I just concluded a 2 year-long course on this same topic through the Aspen Institute’s prestigious Liberty Fellowship Program.  In this program, we studied different leadership styles, philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, and Hobbes, and instrumental leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Ghandi, and Margaret Thatcher, among others.  What I learned and what I am still learning is a good leader has to make tough decisions, not rash decisions but well studied and thought out decisions.

Last week, my state Senator Joel Lourie announced that he would not be seeking re-election in 2016.  For our community and state, he has exemplified the qualities of a great leader.  He will be sorely missed and we will suffer a great void without him, but while I know this decision must have been a difficult one, it was one that was not made in haste.  And I thank him for the incredible sacrifices that he has made for our community.

With his departure came the likely inquisition on whether I would seek to run for his vacant seat.  While I wish he was given at least one day before any announcement was made to replace him, allowing him the respect and deference deserved for a career of public service coming to an end, I felt pressure to quickly make a decision.  Although, I personally needed time to study and determine if filing for Senate District 22 would be the best decision for my family and me and the community that I love and cherish.

After much prayer and personal reflection, my conclusion is that while serving in the Senate would be an exciting opportunity, I believe my recent appointments to the House Judiciary and Ethics Committees allow me to be more effective in representing this community in the House of Representatives. Therefore, at this time, I do not intend to file for Senator Lourie’s vacant Senate seat.

I am able to effect positive change for my constituency through the legislative process, and I believe I can make a bigger impact for our community by continuing to serve in the House.  Many of the bills that I have co-sponsored this year have passed, including the Cervical Cancer Prevention Act, of which I was the primary sponsor.

I feel so privileged and honored to be able to serve our community at the Statehouse and intend to file for re-election for House District 78 in March.  I want to continue advocating for our public schools, road funding and ethics reform, as well as fighting for women’s health issues, the elderly, and children’s issues.  I hope you will continue to support me.”


So, was that a dig at Mia? I refer to the part that said, “I wish he was given at least one day before any announcement was made to replace him.” Yeah, that was kind of a dig at Mia. I think…

26 thoughts on “Rep. Beth Bernstein won’t run for Lourie’s Senate seat

  1. Jeff Mobley

    So, what do you think, Brad? Does Jim Manning go ahead with his stated intention to run for Beth’s seat?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Not if SHE’S running, I wouldn’t think.

      I ran into Manning this morning and had my first conversation with him in years. Wish I’d known about this at the time.

      How about YOU, Jeff? You going to run for that — or for the Senate seat?

      1. Jeff Mobley

        Well, here’s another answer:

        Richland County Councilman Jim Manning, who declared a week ago that he would campaign for Bernstein’s seat, said her decision does not affect his plans to run.

        “When we made the decision a week or so ago for when we were going to run for that House seat, we developed a campaign, platform and supporters,” Manning said. “We wouldn’t make the decision if we weren’t committed to believing that I would be the best person to represent the district.”

  2. Jeff Mobley

    For now I’m strictly a spectator, albeit a keenly interested one. I have spoken with someone else who is considering running for the House seat, but is not necessarily in an extreme hurry to decide.

    I’d really like to see conservatives running for all the local positions I get to vote on, including Richland County council, House, Senate, and school board.

        1. Jeff Mobley

          Well, I’d like to see someone on the ballot with whom I have a tendency to agree on the relevant issues. Based on what I know, you seem to fit that description. You noted that you live in Senate district 22, and you’re a lawyer, right? See, it’s perfect!

          Maybe it would be funny, but it would also be cool.

          I’ll do my research on Mia. I know she’s been on the right side of some county issues, but I suspect I’ll find that I differ from her policy-wise too much her to vote for her. I’d like to have another option when I go to the polls.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            I’d like to have another option when I go to the polls.

            Me, too.

            Not sure if that means I should run for Senate, though. I wouldn’t know the first thing about it, and there are probably a billion reasons why it would be a a bad idea. However, I do appreciate the sentiment.

            1. Jeff Mobley

              See, you’re thinking about things like, “Is this the right thing to do for me and my family?”, and, “Do I have the time to campaign and serve?”
              But of course what you should be thinking is, “Jeff wants options on the ballot, darn it!”

            2. Brad Warthen

              Let me know if you need help with your campaign, Bryan.

              With the power of this blog and “Permanent Press” behind you, you’d roll right over the opposition.

              It’d be just like “Citizen Kane.”


              I ever tell y’all that I’m distantly related to the Hearsts? Duh. Probably only about 12 times…

  3. Barry

    I also was surprised that Rep McLeod jumped in with an announcement on the same day Senator Lourie announced his news. WISTV had her announcement in their news section the same night.

    It wasn’t a classy move on her part.

    1. Mark Stewart

      How’s that? He announced he isn’t running; she then announced that she is running.

      What is the appropriate length of PR silence to make one “classy”? Not sure what sort of standard that is; though I could hazard a guess at the implied meaning…

      1. Brad Warthen

        For the definition of “classy,” check with Donald Trump.

        But it WAS overeager. That’s the thing, you see — there is no such standard. But even in the absence of a standard, her hair-trigger response did sort of evoke a “Whoa! Give us a chance to absorb that Lourie’s leaving. Take a breath. Count to 10 or something. We’ll still be here; I promise…”

        1. Mark Stewart

          Mia McLeod is WYSIWYG. We have commented on that a lot already. She isn’t known for her filter. That said the District doesn’t need a diplomat, it needs a productive Senator. It happens that Lourie was both, but that’s a relative rarity in politics.

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          Oh, I take your point about Mia.

          But let me add, in response to your earlier comment that “He announced he isn’t running; she then announced that she is running.”…

          It didn’t come across as one thing happened, then another thing happened. There was an appearance of simultaneity that struck me, and others.

          Lourie announced he was quitting in an op-ed piece that appeared in print editions of The State on Sunday, Aug. 2. But the piece appeared on on Saturday, Aug. 1.

          The news story about his leaving — which included Mia’s possible intentions to run (although I can’t tell at this point whether her comments were in the original version) — ALSO appeared on on Saturday, Aug. 1.

          So she indicated her intentions BEFORE everyday civilians who wait to read their oped page in the print version had a chance to see that he was quitting. And since the fact he was quitting was at the end of his column, it’s likely that most people didn’t see it until Sunday. (I’ll admit I saw it Saturday night, on Twitter, and reTweeted it at 9:15 p.m. But even I, Twitteratus that I am, might have missed it on a Saturday night when I was at the beach.)

          There was a sort of “Back to the Future” effect going on there. A temporal anomaly, if you will…

          But if it had ended there, no one would have thought anything of it. Because the fact is, BOTH Mia and Beth were quoted in that story as saying they were thinking about running. Apparently (although I can’t say for sure), an enterprising reporter had called both, since they are both incumbent House members living in the same district.

          The thing that cemented the impression that Mia was super-eager is that she sent out her “I’m all in” email on SUNDAY evening, the same day the op-ed piece was in the paper. I mean, she couldn’t even wait for a weekday. She launched her campaign on a Sunday — and show me the precedent for that in South Carolina, where people essentially don’t do politics from Thursday evening until Tuesday morning — less than 24 hours since the news had first appeared on Twitter.

          Now THAT’S eager.

          1. Mark Stewart

            The same article first had Beth Bernstein saying she was “seriously considering” running. Then it quoted Mia as saying she was “strongly considering” running.

            I can’t parse that much bah humbug.

            “Since the news first appeared on Twitter”. That’s so droll. If it appears on Twitter it’s because (some) people are already talking about it. Monday is a slow news day – why not announce on Sunday night to capitalize on that fact and on the press about Lourie’s retirement? Seems sensible to me… Plus, it marks the territory and raises the hurdle for anyone else. And then Beth went from seriously considering to rejecting the idea.

            The early bird catches the worm, no?

            1. Brad Warthen Post author


              By the way, it wasn’t on Twitter because people were talking about it. It was Tweeted by The State. It was them announcing it so that people COULD talk about — or rather, it was them promoting their content…

  4. John

    Joel Lourie’s record of public service has been exemplary and he is choosing not to run for his office again. It’s painful to see him referred to here as “quitting” given that he is finishing his term. There are plenty of real quitters in SC politics, but Joel is not one of them. I lived in his district for several years it was a pleasure to vote for him.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, I started to write “retiring,” but he’s not retirement age. I couldn’t say “leaving,” because he’ll still be in town.

      In my mind, “quitting” was not a pejorative…

      1. John

        Normally I wouldn’t either, but then I think of Thomas Ravenel and Bobby Harrell and other members of the rogues gallery who really did quit before the end of their terms and…and blech I guess is a word that comes to mind. So I prefer the more awkward ‘will step down at the end of his term’ which has a little more grace to it. Just a personal preference.

  5. John

    Well, Bobby Harrell “suspended himself” first according to the Augusta Chronicle…what DID make me feel better, after reviewing the tortured language published about those events, was finding out that if you Google “Ask Mr. Language Person” Dave Barry’s old columns are still on the Miami Herald site. So thanks for that!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *