The most interesting SC legislative contest of 2024 (so far)

Ott leaving the scene of his announcement today…

So far, at least. I just started paying attention. But it won’t surprise me if this remains the most interesting.

I didn’t take an interest in this one until I saw Sen. Dick Harpootlian lashing out at Rep Russell Ott last week, and realized these two very different Democrats would be facing each other in a primary in June.

It wasn’t until today that I finally realized that this is the Senate district I live in! I mean, I knew Nikki Setzler, whose sign I’ve been proud to post in my yard in recent years, would no longer be my senator. But I didn’t realize this was who would be running — on the Democratic side — to replace him.

My Neanderthal mind was already boggled a bit by the fact that somehow these two guys were in the same district. Dick, who lives in — well, I’m not sure of his address, but it’s in the Democratic part of Columbia. Russell lives on Ott Farm Trail in St. Matthews, which is way down the road from Shandon, Wales Garden and environs.

So imagine how much more surprising — what a “Duh!” moment it was for me — it was to learn that this guy from way over in suburban Columbia and this guy from quite a bit down the road toward Charleston were running to represent me, over in Quail Hollow.

But it’s true. I think. I’m still a bit confused. (Which I guess makes me more like most citizens, who couldn’t tell you who represents them to save their lives.)

So… this being my district, I’ve got a decision to make between two serious candidates — assuming I vote in the Democratic state primary this time (meaning I pass up on having a say in local Lexington County elections), which I’m likely to do simply because of this race.

I’ve been really impressed by the job Dick has done since entering the Senate. And as you know, past performance counts for a lot with me. Once, he was the guy journalists loved because he was a quote machine — of the edgy, to-hell-with-what-people-think, Fritz Hollings variety. Now, this wise guy is something of an elder statesman, after his own fashion.

However, the less provocational Russell Ott has made a good impression in the House ever since he succeeded his Dad, Harry, in the seat back in 2013. And I got to work with him a bit during the Smith campaign in 2018 (although we never did quite pull together that presser I wanted to do out in the middle of a farm field, to talk about how Henry’s hero Trump’s embargo was hurting farmers). And as you know, he’s possibly the only pro-life Democrat (or one of very few) in the Legislature, as I wrote back here.

That’s a plus for me, and probably plays better out in the country where Russell lives than it it does in Dick’s stomping grounds. It won’t win him all that many friends among the residents of Shandon, where one of his House colleagues won two years ago by hard-selling her Democratic orthodoxy in the wake of Dobbs.

In fact, I first heard about this contest from a tweet Dick posted last week pounding Russell on this point of party heresy. Thereby causing me to immediately sympathize with Russell — although of course Dick, the former state party chairman, knows that part of the electorate. Which is why Democrats seldom listen to my advice on this matter.

Dick made his announcement last month. Although it was odd that he said he was “running for re-election” when this is his first time running in this district. Still, I’ve give him the edge right now. But we’ll see.

As a voter, I’ve got a lot of studying to do. That’s why I ran downtown today to try to catch Russell’s announcement. But I headed out way too late to deal with the parking challenges. I missed the whole announcement — but the candidate and some supporters were still there, so I got the picture above.

Watch this space. I’ll try to do better as we go along…

From Dick’s Twitter page…

16 thoughts on “The most interesting SC legislative contest of 2024 (so far)

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    I thought I’d add some things from social media to this, since not all of y’all look at Twitter.

    As you would expect, Dick is lining up heavyweights, including our state’s top Democrat, the man to whom I will always be grateful for putting Joe Biden in the White House:

    And then there’s my own “twin:”

    Those are solid endorsements.

    Of course, I particularly like this one that Russell received, having spent those months trying to get the tweeter elected (she would have been a great lieutenant governor):

    And also pretty enthusiastic:

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Following up on that…

      Dick has a pretty solid record, and I wish he’d run on that. And sometimes he does, as in this tweet:

      But other times he can’t resist playing the zambolit, the enforcer of party orthodoxy, as he does here:

      If you’ve got to attack a guy, make it about the issue, not party orthodoxy. Of course, I’d prefer he attack no one, and stick to running on his own record, as in the first tweet.

      Not that I disagree with him on the issue. This is no like his abortion tweet. I don’t want every yahoo in the state running around armed. We only need cops to go around packing.

      I’m all for that, though. I went to the noon Ash Wednesday mass, not long after seeing Dick’s tweet. I was actually thinking about how I don’t want everybody to go armed when we walked into the church.

      Then, when we sat down in the pew. I realized there were two sheriff’s deputies — a man and a woman — wearing their sidearms two pews in front of us. And I was thinking, “On the other hand, I’m totally fine with that!”

      Actually, there was a third deputy two people to the left of them, and she was also armed. But I didn’t notice her until they got up to go receive the Eucharist. I was fine with her, too.

      I think it’s nice that the Brits stick proudly to tradition — it’s one of those charming things I love as an Anglophile. But I watch a lot of British cop shows, and every time I see them go running into a dangerous situation unarmed, I want to yell “Call for the gun squad!” Sometimes I do.

      It particularly gets me when I see one female cop who probably weighs only a hair over 100 pounds — if that — chasing a big bruiser close to 300. Oh, she always manages with her baton. Apparently, there are a lot of scary-looking big guys in England who are actually harmless. But I remain skeptical…

        1. Ken

          Writing on Nextdoor, Collins recently lambasted a freshman Republican state rep. from a neighboring district — Thomas Beach, a Freedom Caucus member — for being clueless about (anti-woke) legislation Beach introduced. And, more generally, about members, like Beach, who aren’t really interested in governing but only in engaging in symbolic gestures.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Alas, I don’t have one.

                When I started blogging 19 years ago, we didn’t have all these paywalls. And it was great. You could tell readers, “Check out this interesting thing I read, so we can discuss it.”

                The rise of the paywall has taken a lot of the allure out of blogging…

                1. Ken

                  Well, here’s the text of Collins’ post. Unfortunately, the original formatting doesn’t come with it, so it’s one block of text:

                  “I’m not going to post nonsense every day of this legislative year because I predict it’s going to be an insanely political year. I’ll probably just pin this post & refer people to it when they ask about the latest “crisis.” Columbia continues to spiral downward as unserious people are making it a political circus instead of simply governing. Yesterday was our first floor debate &, of course, the “Freedom” Caucus did their typical playbook. It’s a good case example. Here are the rules of The “Freedom” Caucus: 1. Never ever support a bill. 2. Always file amendments knowing they will fail. 3. When they fail, take a photo of the board & post on social media to prove, not that you’re a failure, but the only “real” conservative. 4. Vote for the bill … or don’t … whatever is good politically. 5. If the bill passes, claim victory that it was because of you. 6. Rinse & repeat 1-5, but whatever you do, don’t actually do the hard work of coalition & relationship building to move legislation. 7. Governing is never the objective. Campaigning & self-interest is. The beauty of living by these rules is that you never lose. You’re always more conservative. This is crucial in primaries & seeking higher office. The “Help Not Harm” bill was introduced by the Republican Caucus Majority Leader. It restricts gender transition procedures for individuals under eighteen. It went through the normal process at subcommittee & committee (where the work is actually done). Per usual, the Freedom Caucus argued it didn’t go far enough. Per usual, amendments were made on the floor (again, not where the critical work is done) to show how “conservative” they are in comparison to the Republican Caucus. Some amendments were just dumb. There’s no nice way to describe them other than dumb – not intellectually stimulating? Rep. Beach offered an amendment which would require public school teachers to report a student if the student wanted to go by a different name other than their legal name. When questioned on whether shortened names, nicknames, or other family names could be used, he was befuddled. Obviously, he had not thought of consequences to his language. He then became visibly perplexed when asked why he inserted “public” before school teacher. If the point is to protect children, why just public school children? Of course, his poorly worded & thought out amendment was voted down. Not to be outdone, Rep. Magnuson offered another horribly uneducated amendment wanting violation of the bill to be a “violent misdemeanor” punishable up to just one year. He’s not an attorney, so we’ll give him grace. But, violent misdemeanors don’t exist. During debate, it was also obvious he didn’t understand our criminal code could apply without additional language. Why wasn’t an attorney consulted? Of course, his poorly thought out amendment was voted down. In exasperation, he said it was other people’s jobs to fix his flawed amendment. Ummkay. But, to stroke their collective egos, they had swimmer & now apparently national conservative expert on all things, Riley Gaines, tweet within minutes her invaluable insights. Most interesting to me, within minutes of her tweet, I and others had this “Get Right” bot posting her tweet on my political page. Yes, we now have bots posting on our pages the utter nonsense they spew. To make it crystal clear that violation of the Help Not Harm bill would result in a felony punishable up to 20 years, criminal attorneys, Reps. Caskey & Travis Moore offered an amendment correctly stating such. This, of course, passed. The bill ultimately passed in tripartisan fashion after 7 hours of debate. Snatching victory from victory’s mouth, the Freedom Caucus claimed victory on both the bill & the felony language because, of course, where would we be without their intellect! Finally, they each individually post that they are the true conservatives by voting for the bill, but they failed in amending it to a better bill due to the “establishment” Republicans. All of the shenanigans lead to constituent misunderstanding, but makes them look better, so yay for them. It’s all so exhausting. I don’t suffer fools well. I have no patience for people offering amendments that they clearly haven’t tested or understand. I would be mortified if I offered either of the above examples. Yet, they HIGHLIGHT their failures publicly as some moral victory. I have come to accept that politics & self-interested politicians are part of politics, but I just want to govern. I know you’re reading this. You can keep your national talking heads. You can keep your bots. You can keep your asinine debates. I hope it all helps you raise money & get re-elected or elected to higher office. But while you’re playing politics, at least let the adults govern. There’s a nobler way to play politician than what was done yesterday. The vast vast majority of my people don’t know Riley Gaines. They don’t care about who is the most conservative. They don’t care about social media bots or likes. They care & have entrusted us to govern. I promise you that it’s more rewarding to do things than play as if you are. ps: you’re not the next governor & you’re not more conservative”

                  1. Barry

                    “Help not Harm”

                    The lies in the names of these bills by these lying politicians is interesting.

                    Not a damn one of them has a clue about trans children or the issues their families face. They don’t give a damn either.

                    I can’t think of any group that knows less about these issues than cable news hosts, talk radio hosts, and politicians.

                    1. Ken

                      “Help not Harm” is just another symbolic political gesture ( particularly given the fact that the procedures to be banned are exceptionally rare) that allows fake Christian leaders to engage in a kind of “virtue signaling” directed at other fake Christians for whom trans = sin.

                      Upcountry State Senator Richard Cash, for instance, has called transgenderism a “social contagion.” He should instead examine whether he is a super-spreader of that particularly virulent form of contagion known as ignorance and anti-intellectualism.

  2. Barry

    As you know, I don’t vote but I’d vote for Ott.

    Ott is experienced and has been around the block a few times.

    Dick is 75. It’s time for someone younger. I like his fire but also realize he turns off people that might be inclined to cooperate with him because of his abrasiveness.

  3. Doug Ross

    I’m kind of stupid — I prefer to be represented by someone who doesn’t get rich defending people who murder their wife and son. But, hey, that’s just me.

    Personality wise, your guy is a lot closer to Trump than you’d like to admit. Definitely smarter, but just as nasty.

Comments are closed.