Chamber endorses 15 incumbents with primary opposition

The Chamber of Commerce is playing it safe — which doesn’t mean they’re not right about some of these endorsements:

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce PAC, which supports pro-jobs candidates for the General Assembly, today endorsed 15 members of the S.C. House of Representatives who are running for re-election.chamber_pac_logo_2-1

Each Chamber PAC-endorsed candidate has joined the business community in the fight to make South Carolina the most competitive state in the nation for business development.

“The business community is proud to announce its support for these House members,” said Chamber President and CEO Ted Pitts. “They have strengthened our workforce, delivered tax relief, invested in our infrastructure and reduced the regulatory burden – and, when they are re-elected, we look forward to working with them to keep South Carolina on the move.”

The following House members have earned the business community’s support in June’s primary elections based on their performance on the S.C. Chamber of Commerce’s annual legislative scorecard.

  • State Rep. Nathan Ballentine (District 71, Richland and Lexington Counties)
  • State Rep. Micah Caskey (District 89, Lexington County)
  • State Rep. Sylleste Davis (District 100, Berkeley Country)
  • State Rep. Greg Duckworth (District 104, Horry County)
  • State Rep. Craig Gagnon (District 11, Abbeville and Anderson Counties)
  • State Rep. Jackie Hayes (District 55, Darlington, Dillon, Horry and Marlboro Counties)
  • State Rep. Phyllis Henderson (District 21, Greenville Country)
  • State Rep. Joe McEachern (District 77, Richland County)
  • State Rep. Samuel Rivers (District 15, Berkley and Charleston Counties)
  • State Rep. Mike Sottile (District 112, Charleston County)
  • State Rep. Kit Spires (District 96, Lexington County)
  • State Rep. Eddie Tallon (District 33, Spartanburg County)
  • State Rep. Jay West (District, Abbeville and Anderson County)
  • State Rep. Brian White (District 6, Anderson County)
  • State Rep. Ronnie Young (District 84, Aiken County)

At this point, Doug or someone is bursting with indignation at the idea of endorsing all these incumbents! Understandable.

Although the ones with whom I’m most familiar — Nathan Ballentine and Micah Caskey, for instance — are ones I’d pick, too. And if I knew more, I’d likely back quite a few of the others, too.

Unfortunately, our parties have become so corrupted by our system of reapportionment that incumbents seldom, if ever, draw primary opposition that a sensible person would seriously consider. Challengers tend to be extremists trying to pull their respective parties even farther from the sensible center, perpetual candidates who time and time again have been rejected by the voters.

The latter is the case with Micah Caskey, for instance. I forget how many times Billy Oswald has run in the past — sometimes as a Democrat, sometimes as a Republican. If I recall correctly from meeting him long ago, he’s a nice guy (and I have no reason to believe he’s involved with this perfidy), but voters have repeatedly rejected him. And I see no reason they should change their minds after the strong freshman performance Micah has turned in.

In fact, he’s done such a good job that even if he had really strong opposition — such as, say, Tem Miles, whom Micah faced last time — I’d definitely be for giving Micah another term. He’s more than earned it, and I expect more good things from him.

All of that said, there must be SOME incumbents the Chamber doesn’t want to see re-elected. But being the Chamber and therefore risk-averse, those folks aren’t being listed. Because, you know, then the Chamber would be making enemies among folks who will likely be re-elected anyway.

I’d sort of like to see the other list, the one whose existence this one implies: In other words, the incumbents whom the Chamber didn’t endorse despite their having primary opposition. That list would be interesting. I might see if I can infer who those folks are if I get some time later….


8 thoughts on “Chamber endorses 15 incumbents with primary opposition

  1. Claus2

    Today the Chamber of Commerce, tomorrow the PTA, the day after the Girl Scout Troop 243… not one of these endorsements will sway me one way or the other.

      1. Claus2

        How different than I than the majority of the rest of the state? How many people have you met who said I voted for XXXX because The State endorsed him? A handful over 2-3 decades?

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          You know what? It’s never occurred to me to ask anyone that, even once. As long as I’d presented the logical arguments for why A was better than B, and done it well, I was satisfied. Whether other people were bright enough to agree was up to them.

          I know this, though: Most people we endorsed (roughly 75 percent) won. I make no claims to having persuaded people, but for whatever reason, they usually agreed with us.

          Oh, and I know this, too: When I first became editorial page editor, I ended the practice of recapping our endorsements on Election Day. I was dumb enough to believe all the complainers who said “Don’t tell us how to vote!” and think they were representative. I wasn’t going to cop out and not endorse — I have nothing but contempt for cowardly newspapers that didn’t endorse — but I wasn’t going to hit people with it all again on Election Day. I figured once was enough. Also, the important thing about an endorsement isn’t the who, it’s the why, and there wasn’t space to repeat all the reasons on Election Day.

          Well, that first time I learned my lesson. We got a LOT of complaints from people who used that recap of endorsements as a guide — they’d tear it out and take it into the booth with them. And no, they weren’t saying they used it as a guide on whom NOT to vote for, before you make that joke.

          I doubt they were necessarily voting for EVERY candidate we endorsed, but at least it helped refresh their memories of the pros and cons — and that’s the purpose of endorsements anyway — to help people think through their options rationally, and make their own best decision.

          So from then on, we ran a recap of all endorsements on the day of vote, packing in the best brief summaries of our arguments for each that we could…

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              That’s right. Of course, that was after I was gone.

              And if you’ll recall, I expressed my disappointment over that at some length here on the blog. In fact, I went on about it for more than 3,000 words. (For comparison, my columns back in the day, which were long for newspaper columns, ran about 1,000 words.)

              That may have been the first big break with my policies after my departure. Since the editorials were being written by the same folks — Warren and Cindi at first, now just Cindi — you didn’t see a lot of difference in positions from my time there. But that decision, not to endorse in the presidential election in the general in 2012, was a HUGE change from my time…

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                By the way, you’ll notice that I used the past tense when I said “I have nothing but contempt for cowardly newspapers that didn’t endorse.”

                I meant papers that didn’t endorse back then, when they had the staffs and the resources to do the interviewing and other work involved in endorsements.

                Back in those days, there were nine of us in the editorial department. Now, there’s one — well, two with Robert, but he’s not involved in writing or endorsements or any other editorial-board stuff.

                It’s just Cindi, who has to do everything. And if she manages to do the interviews and other work involved in order to endorse in one or two races in a cycle (instead of the 50 or 60 we used to do), I’m impressed.

                Newspaper editorial boards essentially don’t exist the way they used to.

                Back when there were plenty of people, I considered it cowardly not to use those resources to make recommendations in elections — because that’s what it was, however people dressed it up. Now, I’m just surprised that people manage to get a page out each day…

  2. Doug Ross

    Obviously things are going so well we don’t need any different representation. Running on all cylinders.

    Meanwhile, Dan Johnson has a new scandal. Wonder if the chamber ( or James Smith) will weigh in on this one?

    Two women who worked as prosecutors for 5th Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson tell The State they left their jobs because Johnson made them feel uncomfortable by his repeated efforts to have a relationship with them.

    Both women — lawyers and graduates of the University of South Carolina Law School — said that, while working for the solicitor’s office, Johnson sent them hundreds of texts, often about personal matters. Both women said the texts created a hostile work environment with overtones of sexual harassment.


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