Category Archives: Elections

That’s nice for y’all, but it’s not like that here in SC

The good news about the general rout of certifiable Trumpistas has floated in steadily from across the country. Shortly after the good news came in Saturday night that Republicans had definitely not captured the U.S. Senate, no matter what happens next in Georgia, I read a piece in The New York Times headlined “Voters Reject Election Deniers Running to Take Over Elections.

The national repudiation of this coalition reached its apex on Saturday, when Cisco Aguilar, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state in Nevada, defeated Jim Marchant, according to The Associated Press. Mr. Marchant, the Republican nominee, had helped organize a national right-wing slate of candidates under the name “America First.”

With Mr. Marchant’s loss to Mr. Aguilar, all but one of those “America First” candidates were defeated. Only Diego Morales, a Republican in deep-red Indiana, was successful, while candidates in Michigan, Arizona and New Mexico were defeated.

Their losses halted a plan by some allies of former President Donald J. Trump and other influential donors to take over the election apparatus in critical states before the 2024 presidential election.

Which was truly good news, because that had been a serious danger. You here a lot about GOP efforts to limit voter access, but the greater threat was their effort to take over the election apparatus so that it really didn’t matter who voted, or how.

And while Republicans are still likely to take the U.S. House — barely — which would follow the usual trend the country has long seen in midterms, the fact that Democrats had more than held onto the Senate was very encouraging. And in places such as the state where Fetterman thumped Oz, the crushing of Trumpist hopes went deeper, the more you looked:

Of all the places where Mr. Trump proved toxic, Pennsylvania may be where he did the most impressive damage — a state that will be key to any winning Republican presidential contender in 2024. The Trumpian fiasco there shows what happens when candidates make the race all about themselves, embracing MAGA and being out of step with the electorate.

In the high-stakes fight for control of the Senate, Pennsylvania was a hot spot, widely considered the Democrats’ best opportunity to flip a Republican-held seat and, by extension, a must-hold for the G.O.P. Dr. Oz’s high-profile flop was a particularly painful one for Mr. Trump’s party. But there’s more: The Democrats scored a huge win in the governor’s race as well, where Josh Shapiro had the good fortune of running against Doug Mastriano, a Trump-endorsed MAGA extremist so unsettling you have to wonder if he is secretly related to Marjorie Taylor Greene. The Democrats also triumphed in House races, holding onto vulnerable seats, including the hotly contested 8th and 17th Districts. And while a couple of tight races have yet to be called, party leaders are thrilled about already netting 11 seats and being this close to possibly flipping the state House, putting Democrats in control of the chamber for the first time in more than a decade. All of this was a step up for them from 2020, when voters went for Joe Biden over Donald Trump but picked Republicans in some other statewide races.

So that’s good to hear. And the news from such places is indeed encouraging. We may not be anywhere near the Republican Party returning to actual sanity — it has a long way to go before again becoming the party of Ike, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Howard Baker, Richard Lugar and John McCain — in the meantime we can be soothed knowing that things are in the hands of Democrats. I’m not a Democrat, of course, but you take what you can get when the house is on fire — but while some of them a sometimes a bit loony, none of them are Trumpistas.

That is, it’s soothing to look at certain other places. Not South Carolina.

We just elected a completely unqualified woman to run our public schools. She’s there because she won the Republican primary — that’s all it takes in S.C. — and she won the primary by convincing everyone that she was the scarier, far more extreme choice.

Henry McMaster — the man who has built the latter part of his career on having been the first statewide elected official in the country to endorse Donald J. — romped to victory on his way to setting the state record for longevity in the governor’s office. Mind you, this happened because he had an utterly unappealing Democratic opponent. But that’s because no serious Democrats ran. They didn’t run because this is South Carolina, and they assumed McMaster would win again. Which is pretty sad.

No other statewide officeholder — all Republicans of course — had serious opposition. At least, not according to the ballot I faced.

Of course, if you’re talking simple partisan politics, this had been the pattern before Trump. I mean, we knew young Judd Larkins didn’t have a chance against Joe Wilson, but that district has been drawn to reliably elect Republicans since well before the GOP became the state’s majority party. In my first election as governmental affairs editor at The State, Jim Leventis was winning in every county in the 2nd District but one on election night, but then Lexington County’s votes were fully counted, and Floyd Spence held on.

So yeah, it’s an old pattern. But now, Republicans in this state, starting with Henry, have tied Donald Trump, and therefore all the crazy that he represents, to their necks. And in other parts of the country, that’s a bad sign for people seeking office.

But not here.

The Night that Nothing Interesting Happened

‘Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?’

‘To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.’

‘The dog did nothing in the night-time.’

‘That was the curious incident,’ remarked Sherlock Holmes.

I capitalized the words in my headline because it seemed like “The Night that Nothing Interesting Happened” could be the title of a Conan Doyle story.

But no one would have read it.

The large headlines this morning in South Carolina newspapers — and on their browser sites — were a bit weird. Because the “big news” they trumpeted wasn’t news to anyone — was it? McMaster wins? Ellen Weaver wins? Did some reader somewhere expect something else?

When I looked for election news this morning, I was trying to find out, for instance, whether the local-option sales tax thing here in Lexington County had passed. I didn’t think it would, and it didn’t, but I wanted to see for sure. (As I mentioned before, I had voted for it, but I didn’t think a majority would).

But as I said yesterday of this election, nothing interesting was happening. In fact, if I look back all the way to when I first voted in 1972, this may have been the least interesting general Election Day I’ve seen.

Oh, something interesting — horrifying, really — is happening to our republic on the grand scale. As one example, when our representative democracy was healthy (which it was for most of my life), we would never have been sitting around wondering whether such a phenomenal, spectacular idiot like Herschel Walker was about to become a U.S. senator. He’s probably not, by the way, although he’s in a runoff. Yet close to half of the voters in Georgia chose him, and all over the country, similar (but not as spectacular) idiots won. You know, election deniers and such. But since 2016, we’ve grown used to that, haven’t we?

Anyway, suspense was entirely missing, here in South Carolina. But here are a few things worth mentioning briefly, here and elsewhere:

Governor — What we knew would happen, happened. Henry will be governor for four more years, which I’m sure makes him happy. He had always wanted to be governor, and now (I think; I haven’t looked it up), he will be governor for longer than anyone in state history. Of course, I voted a write-in. I never wrote the post about the many reasons I wouldn’t vote for his opponent, although I may do so later, just as an illustration of how the Democrats (and the Republicans, although I’m definitely not holding my breath there) need to do better next time.

Superintendent of Education — Another thing we knew would happen in our degraded democracy. A completely unqualified woman who is hostile to public schools and other things that make sense will now be in charge of public schools in our state. So hang on.

Congress — Well, we still don’t know what happened here, do we? Maybe something “interesting,” to put it politely, will happen here, but it hasn’t happened yet. So we’ll see.

Spanberger — I was very pleased to see Abigail Spanberger, the moderate Democrat in Virginia’s 7th U.S. House district, win. I had been concerned for her, but she made it. I’ve never met her, but as I’ve said before, America needs a lot more like her…

Fetterman — It was good to see him win, although in a healthy country, there’d have been little suspense.

SC House District — I was sorry to see Heather Bauer beat Kirkman Finlay, but not because I have any personal animus toward Ms. Bauer — I’ve never met her — or am carrying any brief at all for Kirkman. I’m sorry because of the lesson far too many Democrats will take away from it, which will be bad for them and bad for the country, which is already divided enough. The thing is, Ms. Bauer ran on nothing — nothing — but abortion. Went on and on about it, as one voter in the district (who usually votes Democratic) was complaining to me the other day. Yay, abortion, all day and night. Many Dems will seize upon this as extremely significant, as their path back to dominance. They will ignore that this is a Democratic-leaning swing district in Shandon, of all places, and that it’s a bit remarkable that Kirkman had held onto it this long.

US 2nd Congressional District — As the gerrymanderers predetermined long ago, and have reaffirmed many times since, Joe Wilson easily beat young Judd Larkins. Which we all knew would happen. I need to give him a call and see how he’s doing and thank him for running anyway. Maybe he’ll run for something else. Something other than Congress, preferably.

Signs — That reminds me, I guess I need to take down my Judd Larkins sign. Which in turn reminds me of the signs I saw over in my mother’s neighborhood this morning (see below). I guess they were really disappointed this morning — or maybe not. Of course, Clyburn won, as he was destined to do. The weird thing is, this was in Wilson’s district, so they could have had a Larkins sign up, and didn’t — which is a shame. Anyway, the thing that struck me about these signs when I first saw them, before the vote, was that it was the first Cunningham sign I had seen in anybody’s yard around here. Of course, I haven’t been out walking much lately, and that’s when I usually notice signs…

That’s about all I can think of to mention. I may add some other things later, but right now I need to run to a doctor appointment. See you later….

Did you get out and vote today? How did it go?

Well, didja, ya buncha procrastinators?

A bit harsh? Well you know how it is with converts. We get a bit carried away. All those years I have criticized and blasted early voting, and loudly sung communitarian joys of standing in line with my neighbors to do our collective duty… and then I vote early a couple of times, and I’ve just got no patience with the rest of you. Slackers…

But, let me piously add, it’s never too late… at least, not until 7 p.m.

So did you vote? And if so, how did it go?

My son’s car broke down today, so after he left work and dropped it at the mechanic’s, I gave him a ride to our polling place. Of course, when I walked in I had to make a general announcement that I was not trying to vote twice.

Anyway, it had been a modestly brisk day, for an election that offers little to get excited about here in South Carolina. As of 2:39 p.m., 537 people had voted at my precinct, Quail Hollow.

Later, I dropped by another precinct where I knew a friend of mine was working (talk about doing your duty!), and she boasted that they’d had 513. This was at 3:15,

They did have a queue while I was there, which I had not seen at Quail Hollow, so there’s that. They were trying. But still. That sort of pace might well be fine out in the country, although it would never do in town. Harrumph.

Anyway, how’d it go for you?

Stop trying to predict elections. Just stop it. Right now.

I’m speaking to journalists here.

I thought I’d make that clear because a few days ago, in reaction to a headline that said, “Why early-voting data is an awful election predictor,” I tweeted, “Which is fine, because no one needs such a thing. No one needs to ‘predict’ elections. Discuss the relative merits of the candidates, let the voters vote, then report what HAPPENED…”

When someone who has commented on this blog off and on for years responded, “…A lot of us, for some reason, think that who wins this election may be kind of important,” I had to add, “You do understand that I’m speaking to journalists here, right?”

Well, maybe he didn’t, and maybe that’s my fault. So here, I’m making it clear up front.

You want to know what’s going to happen tomorrow (or rather, in the process that ends tomorrow, since so many of us vote early now)?

Well, I can’t tell you. I can tell you that generally, the party of the president of the United States loses ground in the elections that occur in years when the president isn’t running. Although not always. And even that generality should probably be set aside, since the careful balance between two rational, roughly centrist parties came to an end in 2016. One of the parties basically doesn’t exist any more, and the other is in some disarray.

That’s as far as I’ll go with predictions.

Now, let’s talk about how stupid it is to try to predict these things that are widely and erroneously called “midterm elections.” (Not one position being considered is in the middle of a term. They’re all at the ends of their terms, which is why we’re having elections. The person for whom this is “midterm” is the current POTUS, and in case you haven’t noticed, he isn’t running.)

These prediction stories you see are pretty much always written from a national perspective — as is most of the news you read, since papers that covered — I mean really covered — state and local elections are gone or moribund, and nothing has taken their places. By “national perspective,” I mean they are trying to predict which of those two parties will hold a majority in each of the two chambers of Congress when the elections are over.

Which is insane. That cannot be reliably predicted. Some elections can be reliably predicted. I can predict that Joe Wilson will win re-election. (I would, of course, be thrilled to be proven wrong on that.) I can with even greater confidence predict that Jim Clyburn will be re-elected. But that’s because voters’ choices have been removed from the equation, through the process of gerrymandering.

What you cannot do is reliably, dependably predict what will happen with control of Congress. First of all, you’ll notice I keep saying “elections,” not “election.” There is not one person in America who is voting for one party or the other to have control of Congress. Oh, they might think they are, and tell you they are, thanks to the fact that so many Americans have been trained (largely by what remains of the media) to think that way, in ones-and-zeroes partisan terms.

But they aren’t, because they can’t. Not one person in America can vote for more than one member of the House of Representatives, or more than two (and usually, just one at a time) senator. The rest of the equation — the extremely, mind-blowingly complex equation — depends on what millions of other people do. Each contest for each seat depends on thousands, if not millions, of such separate decisions. And the end result, in terms of which party has control? That depends on an exponentially greater number of separate decisions.

Not only that, but I remain unconvinced that most people can coherently explain, even to themselves, exactly what caused them to vote as they did. It’s complicated. Despite all the progress the ones-and-zeroes folks have had in training people to vote like robots, it remains complicated.

But enough about voters and what they do. Back to the journalists.

Y’all have all heard grandpa tell stories about how he covered elections, back when the country was young and men were men, yadda-yadda. I’m not going to do that in this post. But I am going to complain about the “coverage” we do see in elections.

Practically every story written, every question asked by a journalist of a source, seems in large part to be an attempt to answer the question, “Who is going to win?’ I can practically see those words stamped onto the foreheads of the reporters.

What do the polls say? How much money have you raised? How many more times will that TV ad be aired by Election Day? How are you connecting with this or that demographic group? How strong is your campaign organization? Can you avoid uttering “gaffes” in the upcoming “debate,” and when you almost inevitably fail in that task, can you recover from them?

Folks, the reason we have a First Amendment is so that we will have a free press to, among other things, help voters decide which candidates will represent them. To do that, your job is to report on what each candidate offers to voters, and how well he or she is likely to perform if elected. You start with two things: the candidates’ observable records, and what the candidates say about themselves and the kinds of officeholders they intend to be.

Your goal should NOT be to tell the voters who WILL win. You should give them information that will help them, the voters, make that decision. If you try to tell them who WILL win, the most likely result is that you will convince some supporters of the other candidate not to vote. (Which to many of you might sound like a GOOD thing, because it means your stupid predictions are slightly more likely to come true — but it isn’t.)

Oh, and if you’re an opinion writer, your goal is to present rational arguments as to who SHOULD win. It is not to predict who will win. So, you know, I should not be seeing “opinion” headlines like some of the ones below…

I voted. You should, too. You’ll feel better after you’re done…

Voting was fine. There were even some nice flowers in front of the community center. Another voter seems to be digging them in the background…

Sorry to be such a downer yesterday about the whole democracy thing. I was sounding a bit like Marvin the Paranoid Android with that headline.

I feel much better now that I’ve actually voted. I hope you will, too — or already do, assuming you’ve already done it.

I voted as I said I would. On governor, I voted again for James and Mandy, just because that was the only governor/lieutenant governor team I could think of that I could vote for. It didn’t quite work, though. I typed “JAMES SMITH/MANDY POWERS N,” and it wouldn’t let me type any more. I thought I’d mention it here as a statement of my intentions, in case we get into a challenging-the-count situation.

For the U.S. Senate, I voted for my wife. I didn’t consult with her in advance. I told her about it later as we were walking in the neighborhood. It didn’t faze her, being married to me and all. She asked, “Does that mean I get to move to Washington?” I said sure, and I’ll go up to visit and we can go see that great new exhibit I read about at the National Gallery, “Sargent and Spain,” which I see as an extension of that work of his I love that my granddaughters posed in front of when we were in Boston. So we have a plan, in case. It’s good to have a plan.

I guess I’ll go on and vote today. But I won’t enjoy it…

You know how I used to refuse to vote early — because of my love of Election Day and the communitarian experience of getting out there and standing in line with my neighbors, yadda-yadda?

Well, I broke with that in 2020, and it’s a good thing I did. I did it, as much as anything, because of COVID. I was concerned that things were going to be unmanageable on the actual day — huge turnout was expected, and I was picturing all those masked people trying to stay six feet from each other. Also, I was worried that I might get it myself (this was before the vaccines), and be too sick on the day of.

And I had never felt it more important to vote than in that election. I knew I alone couldn’t tip South Carolina to Joe, but I had to make the effort. Every single person who cared about saving our country had to make every effort possible.

And if I hadn’t gone early, I would have — for the first time in my life — missed my chance. My brother-in-law died suddenly at the end of October, and his funeral was on Election Day — in Memphis.

So this year, I’m going to do it again. But not because I see the outcome as vital. In fact, I’ve never in my life seen a general election in which I was so uninterested in voting — or in which my vote would matter so little.

Have you looked at a sample ballot? It’s pretty depressing.

First, we don’t have a candidate for governor for whom I could vote. I don’t want Henry to be governor, and I don’t want Joe Cunningham to be governor (have you looked at his issues page? I have.). And no, I’m not going to vote for the Libertarian. Because, you know, he’s a Libertarian — which is the one and only thing I know about him.

So the one challenge for me is whom to write in. Still pondering that.

Let’s stumble our way through the rest of the ballot

  • Secretary of State. I wouldn’t care about this even if I were excited — positively or negatively — about either of the candidates. This should not be an elective position. It’s not a position that sets policy. The secretary is a clerk.
  • State Treasurer. Same as secretary of state. A little more significant, but not much.
  • Attorney General. No choice is offered. Alan Wilson is unopposed.

You know what? This is ridiculous. Let’s skip to the ones I’m bothering to vote on:

  • State Superintendent of Education. This is about voting against someone — Ellen Weaver, who of course is almost certainly going to win, but it is my duty to stand up and say “nay.” She is not only completely unqualified to run the largest part of our state government, but she will go out of her way to harm our public schools. I’ll vote for Lisa Ellis, since Kathy Maness was done in by the extremists.
  • Commissioner of Agriculture. Yeah, it’s another position that should be appointed rather than elected, but I think Hugh Weathers does a good job, so I’ll vote for him. Of course, he would win whether I did or not. But it’s kind of nice to occasionally get a chance to vote for someone you like, and see him win. It doesn’t salvage the rest of this experience, though.
  • U.S. House District 2. As I’ve said before, I’m happy to vote for Judd Larkins. He won’t win, but I’m happy to say he should. Is he a perfect candidate? No. A candidate for congress should have a lot experience in public life, and Judd has none. But he’s a better candidate than the one who’s going to win.
  • The three referendums on my ballot. I will vote “yes” on all of them — not enthusiastically, but as long as I’m forced to engage in government by plebiscite, here are reasons to support the statewide proposals on reserve funds. And my rule is, if Lexington County actually, miraculously dares to try to raise a tax, I’m going to say yes, because it must really, truly be desperately needed…

That’s about it. If I had to pick one reason why I’m going to vote, it would be to stand up for Judd in the congressional race.

But there should be a lot of reasons for me to embrace. And there aren’t. Which is a very sorry situation. Our democracy is in serious trouble. We’ve discussed the reasons before, and we can get into them again at another time. I need to go on and vote. It’s my duty…

I was so happy to vote in 2020. Perhaps I will experience that again. But not today.

It would be great to see some coverage of 2nd District

“Well this has, without a doubt, been the friendliest debate I’ve ever experienced,” said moderator Avery Wilks just before closing arguments in the 2nd Congressional District debate Monday night. “We didn’t use a single rebuttal to address a personal insult, so I appreciate that from both candidates.”

Avery got that right. Of course, it was to be expected. Most of the country thinks of Joe Wilson as the “You lie!” guy, but that was very much out of character for him (at least, before he learned to pull in money from it). Sure, he’s a steady fountain of the kind of mindless partisanship that was already destroying our country before the unbelievable happened in 2016: “Republicans good; Democrats bad,” on and on.

Judd Larkins has none of those negative characteristics — neither the insults nor the partisanship. He’s a guy who wants to make a positive difference in the lives of the people of the 2nd District, and he doesn’t care about the party affiliation of the people he’d have to work with to get it done.

Which is why I have that sign for him in my yard, with all my neighbors’ Republican signs running down the opposite side of the street.

Of course, I missed a lot of the first half of the debate, but the parts I saw reflect Avery’s characterization. You can judge for yourself by watching it. Click on the picture at the top of the post, and it will take you to the video on YouTube.

Judd was polite and deferential — as he always is — and Joe was polite and mild-mannered, although at times a bit condescending to the young man so hopelessly running against him. As for his partisan stuff — there’s no visible malice in him when he says those things. He sees those as things people naturally say. Blaming Biden or Obama for all the world’s troubles is, to him, like saying “hello” to the people he meets. He lives in a community where it is expected, thanks to line-drawers in the Republican Legislature.

But those statements offer a stark contrast between the campaigns. We were cash-hungry in our campaign in 2018, what with me doing the work of five or six people (according to our campaign manager — I wouldn’t know what the norm is). But while I talked to the press and wrote the releases and the brochures and (during one awful, brief period) the fund-raising emails and about 90 percent of the social media (and would have written the speeches if James hadn’t preferred loose talking points, bless him), I was at least on hand to pump out a few tweets during debates.

Judd didn’t have anything like that. I watched for it during the debate. Joe Wilson, of course, did. And the nonsense was on full display:

I answered a couple of them. To that one, I said, “Which is exactly what he would have said had, God help us, Trump won, in which case the U.S. would have skedaddled out of Afghanistan much earlier, and much more recklessly…” I didn’t bother with the offensive nonsense about immigration. It would have required being as superficial as Joe’s campaign to stay within the 280 limit.

And I couldn’t hold back again when they put out this prize-winner: ““It’s shameless what the democrats have done with defunding the police. It’s putting the American people at risk”

My response: “What, precisely, have congressional Democrats done that could credibly be described as ‘defunding the police?’ And which Democrats in actual elected, national leadership positions would even WANT to? Nothing, and none. But does that matter to Joe? Of course not…”

I should have said, “does that matter to Joe’s campaign,” since he was personally busy on stage at the time, but I was irritated. Which is why social media are a poor way to engage in political argument.

Anyway, I’m not commenting much on this dispiriting election, but I’m writing again about this one foregone conclusion of a “contest” because you’re not reading about it elsewhere.

Avery, to his great credit, was there as moderator, but neither his newspaper (the Post & Courier) nor his former newspaper (The State) covered the event. Of course, I didn’t write about it until two days later, so maybe something is still coming. But it seems doubtful, since neither has taken an interest so far. Search for Judd’s name under Google’s “news” category, and you’ll see what I mean.

And I certainly understand. It was hard for an editor to devote resources to noncompetitive “contests” even back when “major metropolitan” newspapers were vital and fully staffed. Now, I’d be shocked to see it. (Yeah, there’s some coverage of the hopeless election for governor, but editors are much less likely to see that as optional.)

If you do that search, though you’ll see that again the Lexington County Chronicle stepped up and covered it, so good for them. I can’t say much for that ones-and-zeroes headline, but at least they made the effort.

I sent a couple of congratulatory messages after the debate. One was to Avery, about the good job he and the high school students did. (And let me also congratulate Lexington One for putting on the event, and providing the video.) The next day, I congratulated Judd as well. He said two things in response:

  • Thanks! Some of the Dems wanted more blood, but I think we won over the folks we needed to. Just gotta get it in (front) of more folks.
  • Lack of coverage last night really hurt. We executed our plan perfectly. Just gotta get more eyes to see it.

Of course, as I indicated above, I couldn’t agree more on the second thing. On the first, I hope he continues to ignore the people who want “more blood.” People like that, across the spectrum — the “fight fire with fire” people — are tearing our country apart. Stepping outside of his comfort zone to provide more gladiatorial spectacle won’t win the election for him. I want to see him get through this, and go on to the rest of his life — in or out of politics — knowing he did what he could the right way.

HERE (not where I told you) is link for 2nd District debate

As Rick Perry would say, “Oops.”

I told you the other day that the Post & Courier would be streaming the debate tonight at 7 p.m. between Judd Larkins and the guy’s he’s challenging, Joe Wilson.

I’d heard that, although I can’t swear where. Anyway, I was wrong. I checked with some folks at the P&C (to get the link) — the people who would know if they were doing such a thing — and they knew nothing about it.

I can’t tell who, precisely, is streaming it — probably Judd’s campaign itself. But they have the link on Facebook. Click on the image above, or right here. I hope you can get it. Somebody ought to watch.

I mean, aren’t we still pretending that we have elections for these high offices, instead of anointing people for life?

Hey, 2nd District — give Judd Larkins a listen

Someone knocked urgently on the door that leads in from the garage while I was having a late lunch yesterday. It was my friend and neighbor John Culp, and he had brought me a Judd Larkins yard sign.

Well, it’s about time. I got James Smith and Jaime Harrison signs for him back in 2018, and he’s been owing me.

It also reminded me. A few months back, I had breakfast with John and Clark Surratt one morning at Compton’s, and John had brought along Judd Larkins and Marcurius Byrd for us to meet. Judd is running for office, and Marcurius is his campaign manager. Later, I got him together with James Smith over coffee, and they got along well.

Oh, you haven’t heard of Judd? Well, he’s the Democratic nominee for the 2nd Congressional District. But since everyone knows that district is drawn to provide Joe Wilson with a sinecure for life, that he inherited it from Floyd Spence, and that no one else will sit in that seat so long as Joe lives, folks don’t pay much attention to who runs against him. No matter what Joe does. Or, since this is Joe we’re talking about, no matter what he doesn’t do.

So Judd doesn’t get a lot of attention. But he should, because he is the kind of person who should get elected to public office, and Joe Wilson, by comparison, is not.

At the very least, watch the one and only debate in this “race.” It’s coming up Monday night, Oct. 24, and will be webcast from River Bluff High School at 7 p.m. If you’d like to attend in person, I’m pretty sure you can still get a ticket. If you want to see it on TV, I’m told you’re out of luck.

But if you miss that, don’t worry — you can go out and read some of the extensive news coverage of this election to decide who will go to Congress and run this country, such as… wait… how about… OK, I’m not finding any. No, wait, Marcurius has posted a story on Facebook from The Lexington Chronicle, and I’m sure y’all all subscribe to that, right? In case you don’t, here’s a link.

At some other point, I’ll put up a separate post asking why we even bother to pretend to have elections for Congress, since no one knows anything about these “races.”

But now, a few words about Judd, since you probably won’t see much anywhere else. First, I urge you to go check out his website. On the “About” page, you’ll learn such things as:

Judd was born and raised in a small town in Greenwood County called Ninety Six. Judd’s father is a high-school dropout turned success businessman while Judd’s mother was a schoolteacher before tragically passing away from breast cancer when Judd was just 14 years old. Judd attended Ninety Six High School where he was a two-sport star and Track and Field State Champion.

After Graduating High School, Judd attended Clemson University where he graduated Su(m)ma Cum Laude with a degree in Language (Chinese) and International Trade. While attending Clemson, Judd spent two summers in China becoming fluent in Mandarin Judd also holds a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge (UK). While attending Cambridge, Judd worked on crafting a business plan for new, innovative transplant technology and also conducted market research for a finance firm located in Dublin, Ireland. After Completing his MBA, Judd was based in Luxembourg while working for an Asian Financial Company…

Yeah, that needed some editing. And yeah, he holds a master’s degree from Cambridge. Personally, I went to Oxford — my wife and I spent six days there in 2011 and had a lovely time — but I guess a master’s from Cambridge is OK, if that’s all you’ve got.

In other words, he’s a smart kid. That he’s a kid is undeniable. If you meet him, you might think that self-proclaimed champion of the kindergarten set, Joe Cunningham, looks a bit like Methuselah by comparison. But again, Judd’s a smart kid.

More than that, he’s an idealistic, thoughtful, considerate, unblemished sort of young man who would do a lot to improve our ideology-poisoned Congress — if he could get elected.

Based on what I’ve seen, Judd’s campaign has little or no money. I don’t think he’ll do as well as Adair Ford Boroughs (who at least got to be U.S. attorney), because he’s simply a lot less visible.

Basically, his campaign seems to consist mainly of going door-to-door and introducing himself to people. Nothing wrong with canvassing, of course, but it’s kind of hard to do enough of it when the odds are stacked against you to this extent. In a congressional district, there are just too many doors you’ll never have time to knock on.

“There’s just so much ground to cover,” Judd told me when I checked in with him Wednesday. “We’re probably gonna run out of time.”

But Judd tries anyway. And generally, he’s pleased with the reception he gets. He hasn’t had anybody cuss him out, in spite of his being a Democrat and all. He doesn’t seem to do as well getting time with big shots in business and politics, but “Regular folks are generally nice.”

“Folks are like, oh, I saw you last week. Thanks for being here,” he said. “We need somebody new, somebody younger.”

I would add that they need somebody who’s all about telling you what he would do if he got the chance to serve (here’s his platform), and not about how bad that other guy is. Some of the folks out there tell him that, and Judd listens. “They all seem to be tired of the fighting. Just do something,” they tell him.

Of course, if he wanted to go negative, Joe gives him plenty to work with. Adair did a good job of pointing that out — the fact that the main thing about Joe is, he does nothing. (And don’t think it’s because he’s lazy. It’s a deliberate approach, which he inherited from his predecessor Floyd Spence, who I think got it from Strom Thurmond — do nothing as a legislator, and take care of constituent service. If you do anything, it might tick people off.)

But Judd’s not interested in that. Nor does he care to go on about what’s wrong with the Republican Party, or any of that stuff so many want to yammer about.

He wants to make life better for young and old, with a particular emphasis on the small towns all over his district, such as the one he grew up in — Ninety Six. (And by the way, when he speaks, you can tell he’s from someplace like that, Cambridge or no.) Again, here’s his platform. He can also speak intelligently about international affairs, but that’s not what he talks about.

Anyway, those are the kinds of things Judd wants to do. Y’all know I’m not big on platforms and promises. But I am a big fan of Judd’s approach. He wants to identify “universal issues” that people care about regardless of politics, and then “try to find allies on the issues,” and “find a solution.”

You know all those people on both ends of the spectrum who are all about putting a proposal out there that they know the competing party will oppose, and then running against the opponents on the basis of their opposition? It’s Plan A for so many in politics. And nothing ever gets done.

Well, Judd Larkins is sort of the opposite of that. Check him out.

Oh, and yeah, I put up that sign John gave me…

 

I can identify with John Fetterman

Oh, not because neither he nor I seem to own any grownup, run-for-the-Senate-type clothes, although I can understand you getting that impression.

I’m sitting here wearing:

  • Cargo shorts (although this pair is fairly new, just ordered from Amazon a couple of months ago, unlike the ones that are full of holes).
  • My brown Yesterday’s T-shirt, which I admit is getting old — its logo celebrates the tavern’s 30th anniversary, which was 14 years back. But it’s now a collector’s item!
  • My sandals I bought at Walmart for about six dollars more than 15 years ago (I recently bought another, similar pair, but they’re not nearly as comfortable as these).
  • And not much else. (I won’t get into underwear, although I just bought these skivvies, too).

And of course, John Fetterman… well, just look at pretty much any picture out there of him. Dressing like a slob is part of his populist shtick. He’s really into hoodies.

But this similarity is transitory. Most of my life I wore a coat and tie pretty much every day. I dress the way I do now because I don’t intend to go work in an office again, ever. But if I lost my mind and decided to run for the U.S. Senate, or pretty much any elective office, I’d get back in uniform — out of respect for the office, and for the voters. And to make sure no one mistakes me for a populist.

Then, of course, both of us have a penchant for distracting facial hair. But I shaved off the beard just before my brother-in-law’s funeral (which happened to fall on Election Day 2020), and I’d do so again, were I to run for office. Voters are likely to have enough problems with me without being mesmerized by this. I might even go back to shaving every day.

No, it’s not those things. I’m identifying with the guy on a different level:

Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman’s Senate campaign said Wednesday that his stroke recovery, which has complicated his ability to engage in verbal conversations, could influence his plans for debates with Republican nominee Mehmet Oz in one of this fall’s highest-stakes races.

“We are working to figure out what a fair debate would look like with the lingering impacts of the auditory processing in mind,” Fetterman campaign strategist Rebecca Katz said. “To be absolutely clear, the occasional issues he is having with auditory processing have no bearing on his ability to do the job as senator. John is healthy and fully capable of showing up and doing the work.”…

You see, I, too, have lasting effects from my own stroke (which was enough without the stupid “long COVID”), and have big-time trouble following human speech when there are other sounds going on around me.

Of course, in my case these are two different things:

  1. As a result of my stroke, I have these things I call “nap attacks” (although a neurologist told me they’re called “sleep attacks”) pretty much every day. Some days, especially if I make the mistake of getting up early in the morning, I have two of them. I just get to a point, sitting her at my desk, when my brain tells me, Can’t do this any more — lie down and closer your eyes, NOW! Within five minutes, I’m in my recliner in a deep slumber, with dreams and everything. Then, after an hour or so, I gradually wake up, and Thank GOD I don’t have anything incapacitating, like losing the ability to walk or talk. Anyway, I have this lesser problem because I had a bilateral thalamic stroke. Those are fairly unusual. If the stroke hits one side of the thalamus, you’re good. If it hits both sides, you’re taking a lot of naps.
  2. The inability to intelligibly separate human speech from the background isn’t a stroke thing. It’s my hearing. Remember how a decade ago, Ménière’s mostly wiped out the hearing in my right ear? Well, I finally got hearing aids early this year, and they helped in some ways — especially if just one person is speaking to me, clearly and facing me, without a distracting background.

But anyway, put together my stroke thing and my hearing thing, and I can really identify with Fetterman’s stroke thing. It’s a problem, especially when other people don’t understand it.

And yet, I agree with his campaign that his problems should have “no bearing on his ability to do the job as senator.”

Frankly, I even think we go a little overboard in worrying about the health of presidents. I’ve thought that ever since we were obsessing over the polyps in Reagan’s colon back in the mid-80s. I really could have done without that, especially when I was eating at my desk.

Sure, you want the president to be healthy, all other things being equal. And presidents have to deal with things of literal earth-shaking importance suddenly, at any hour of the day or night. But… if the president is incapacitated, we have detailed procedures for both temporary and permanent succession. And even if he’s just trying to get a good night’s sleep, we have the biggest, most expert national security apparatus in the history of the world, manned by extremely well-trained people ready to react effectively and instantaneously, any time of any day or night.

And the Senate? Are you kidding me? Look how often those people don’t even show up for work on the Senate floor! I think we can wait until the nap is over — or until there’s time for a clear-speaking aide to explain to Fetterman what all those people were yelling about back in that room a few minutes earlier.

Mind you, I’m not making an argument that I’m ready to run for the Senate, or for anything. Right now, between the stroke thing, the fact that my Ménière’s started getting worse over the summer, the long COVID, and just being 68 years old, I wouldn’t work in somebody else’s campaign again, much less run myself.

But I don’t see how Fetterman’s stroke problem disqualifies him

A quick follow-up on that Will column…

Oh my, look! THERE’S an attractive candidate…

If you read the piece that inspired the previous post, you know that Will launched into his topic about the debasement of our politics and our political journalism with the observation that for the likes of Josh Hawley, it’s not about getting anything done, or saying anything meaningful (in his case, certainly not!) — it’s about getting attention.

Like an infant feeling ignored and seeking attention by banging his spoon on his highchair tray, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) last week cast the only vote against admitting Finland and Sweden to NATO. He said adding the two militarily proficient Russian neighbors to NATO would somehow weaken U.S. deterrence of China.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who is an adult and hence not invariably collegial, said: “It would be strange indeed for any senator who voted to allow Montenegro or North Macedonia into NATO to turn around and deny membership to Finland and Sweden.” That evening, Hawley appeared on Fox News to receive Tucker Carlson’s benediction….

Which, for someone like Hawley, is the point.

Anyway, I was reminded of that point this morning when I saw, and reacted to, this: “Cunningham wants end of ‘geriatric’ politicians. Will it cost him help from Biden, Clyburn?

My response was to say:

But I decided to post this to take it to the next step, which is to point out the connection to what Will was saying yesterday. You don’t have to look far. It’s the lede of The State‘s story:

Joe Cunningham made national headlines when he suggested an end to the “geriatric oligarchy” in political office and said on national television that President Joe Biden should step aside in 2024 and let someone younger run…

You see, he “made national headlines!” He got “on national television!” How terribly exciting. What more could he want?

Well, I’ll tell you what more I want, as a voter. I’d like him to step up and tell me why he, Joe Cunningham, would be a better governor than Henry McMaster. That shouldn’t be hard, if he has anything to say in his behalf at all.

And no, being younger doesn’t cut it. Just as it wouldn’t if you boasted that you are white, and male. I’m looking for something a tad more substantial than that. Yeah, I’m picky…

Have you voted? I hope it went well (for all of us)…

That is, I hope you have if you had an important runoff where you live, in the primary in which you voted two weeks ago.

My wife and I went, and there was NO ONE else there but the poll workers.

I was just there to vote for Kathy Maness for Superintendent for Education. Not only because she’s the best qualified, but as a vote against the disgusting stuff I’ve gotten attacking her.

I hope she wins, even though the odds seem against it. If the people who voted for the other candidates — the ones who were eliminated two weeks ago — turn out today, it seems to me they’re more likely Weaver voters, which could enable her to overcome the front-runner.

On the other hand, folks who are disengaged to the point they can’t see Kathy Maness is the better candidate (and the only legally qualified one) tend not to show up for runoffs.

We’ll see.

I’ve got to run, but I urge you to read the last-minute editorial in The Post & Courier supporting Ms. Maness, which begins:

We don’t usually like to talk about campaigns in the immediate runup to the election. But the emails, postcards and TV ads that Ellen Weaver and her supporters distributed last week after her second-place finish in the Republican primary for S.C. education superintendent are the sort we’re used to seeing from duplicitously named out-of-state special interests — not what S.C. candidates are usually willing to put their own names on, especially not in primaries. And they demand a closer look….

Anyway, if you voted, let us know how it went…

How did things go at YOUR polling place?

I didn’t think to take any pictures at my polling place, so I took this when I got home.

Well, I went and voted — and voted as I said I would — and it went pretty well.

In the past, I’ve posted pictures showing the long lines at my precinct, but there was none of that stuff today. My wife and I walked right up without waiting, and were done in moments — 1 or 2 in her case, and maybe 10 in mine. Because, you know, I obsess about it.

We were lucky, from what I hear, that our polling place was even open. A friend who works the polls had told me they couldn’t open several precincts in Lexington County because of a lack of poll workers. And when my wife took my mother to vote this morning, her precinct was open, but voters from one next door were using it, too.

(My wife says Micah was there working the site, which I’m sure was nice for my mother, since she knew his grandparents and great-grandparents in Bennettsville.)

No such problem at ours. The usual folks — my neighbors — who have run the Quail Hollow precinct were there and doing their duty, bless them.

And all went smoothly.

How did it go for y’all?

And if you haven’t voted yet, as I type this you have one hour left in which to do so…

Changes for the coming primary

Yes, there’s a primary in June.

And our friend Lynn has been out there working hard to try to help us participate in it more fully, as citizens should do.

So I thought I’d share this release she sent out today:

MDW SC Update: Big Changes for June Primaries

The State Election Commission (SEC) has announced Act 165 changes in place for June primaries at https://www.scvotes.gov/early-voting-now-effect-june-primariesChanges have not been made consistently throughout the SEC website, so this page should be considered accurate when there are conflicts within www.scvotes.gov or with county websites. Everyone is doubtless scrambling to make changes.

The major changes in in-person voters affecting voters now:

  • Excused absentee in-person voting is no longer authorized in SC law.
  • No-excuse in-person voting will begin on Tuesday, May 31 and continue through  Friday, June 10. Early voting locations will be closed Saturday and Sunday, June 4-5.
  • Early voting locations will include county election offices. Additional locations will be posted by all counties to www.scvotes.govby May 24.
  • Early voting for June Runoffs will be held Wednesday, June 22 through Friday, June 24, at the same hours and locations as the primaries.

Excused absentee voting by mail will be open to all voters with disabilities, those 65 or over, members of the Armed Forces and their families residing with them, and voters admitted to the hospital on an emergency basis within four days of election day.

Others who may vote by mail are those who are unable to vote in person during both the two-week early in-person voting period and election day due to employment, caretaking responsibilities, incarceration, or other absence from the county of primary residence.

SEC indicates that new witness requirements for mail absentee ballots will not go into effect until the General Election in November. (Ballot materials are doubtless already at the printers.)

In November, and even now, we encourage voters who can do so to use the in-person early voting option, which presents far fewer opportunities for technical defects in applications or ballots, or just slow USPS, to lead to an inability to vote or a ballot that isn’t counted. (Legislators declined to require notice-and-cure so that voters could correct technical defects.)

Please read the SCVotes announcement at https://www.scvotes.gov/early-voting-now-effect-june-primariesfor more details.

Anyone with questions about other provisions of the new legislation should consult the final version of Act 165 at https://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess124_2021-2022/bills/108.htm.

Also, stay tuned for SEC announcements regarding public input into regulations to be developed under the new law. The new law requires regulations that will dictate consistency between county election offices and also regulate our organizations involved in voter services. It is a very important provision of South Carolina law that regulations must be developed with public input!

Lynn Shuler Teague
VP for Issues and Action, LWVSC

Yep, I’m supporting Micah Caskey

Here’s the sign Micah put in my yard, and I’m fine with it. But I wish he’d picked a spot where my lawn looked better.

Ken misunderstood something earlier. He said the presence of the Micah Caskey ad you see at right was “apparently an endorsement.” No, no, no. That’s just an ad.

An endorsement would be, well… something like that sign I have for him in my yard, shown above. I didn’t put it there. But I did ask Micah recently when he was going to have signs available, and then one day earlier this week, this one appeared. And I’m fine with it. In putting it up, he was just doing what I would have done myself.

Not the same as the endorsements I used to do in the paper, but close enough, given my present circumstances. In the old days, I wouldn’t have endorsed him without talking to his opponent — or at least trying to (some people — like Hillary Clinton in 2008 — decline to come in).

This time — well, I’ve yet to see a lot from Micah’s opponent one way or the other. I had looked at her Facebook page, and as I was writing this, I finally looked again and saw a link to her campaign Facebook page, which led me to her actual campaign site. I don’t know why my usual approach — Googling “Melanie Shull for House” — didn’t work. Maybe she hasn’t had a lot of traffic. Anyway, I don’t know the lady; I haven’t met her. I just haven’t seen any reasons to support her over Micah. And I have seen some reasons not to. But I’m still looking, and listening.

My support for Micah goes back a ways. I’m not talking about the fact that Micah’s grandfather and great-grandfather were good friends with my mother and her family in Bennettsville long before I was born. Although that’s true enough.

I just mean — well, the stuff I’ve told y’all in the past. If you’ll recall, I briefly considered running for this seat myself when Kenny Bingham left it. But in doing my due diligence first, I met Micah, and decided not only that I really liked him and agreed with him on a bunch of things (in fact, on most things we talked about), but that he was a way stronger candidate than I would have been. I also liked his strongest primary opponent Tem Miles, although I preferred Micah.

Since then, I’ve had a lot of interactions with Micah, and have been pleased — mostly by the intelligent, straightforward way he approaches whatever subject we talk about, and his evident desire to serve all the people of South Carolina, not just this or that ideological clique. Do I agree with him on everything? Nope. And as the Republican Party has gotten crazier, and he has tried to keep his seat in spite of it, there have been more things I disagree with him on — such as the guns legislation last year. I went into that with him, and with y’all, in some detail at the time.

Ken mentioned some other things today. As did Doug. Well, I might disagree with Micah on some, but not all, of those things, too…

Interestingly, when I was at this point in writing this post last night, I got a phone call from a number that called itself CASKEY4STATEHOU. It was a sort of cross between a poll and an appeal for support. I think. The connection was very poor — which might be the fault of my hearing aids, or something — and I asked the guy to hang up and call back. But I didn’t hear from him again.

One of the few clear parts of the conversation was when he asked me whether I’d consider putting a sign for Micah in my yard, and I said, to put it the way John Cleese would, We’ve already got one.”

Anyway, after that call, I called Micah and we talked a bit. We spoke a little about the medical cannabis thing. I heard nothing one way or the other on that to make up my mind.

We talked more about this contested primary race he’s in. He didn’t have a lot of info about his opponent to share, although he did send me a video that he said was of her speaking at a “Moms for Liberty” event. In the video, she alludes to her reasoning for running. She doesn’t really have anything bad to say about Micah, beyond an assertion that he is not sufficiently “for the people.” Which I take to mean he fails to be ideologically pure, although it’s not entirely clear.

She is clearer about her strong opposition to Satan and his doings in the world. I’m with her on opposing that guy, but I fail to see what that has to do with this election. I think you have to be fully on board with her views of the world, and her own definition of what it means to be “Christian,” to get it. I believe she’s very sincere about her beliefs, but they are not the same as my own, so there’s a gap there.

To give you a sampling of her views, the latest post on her campaign Facebook page declares:

I will fight to halt the creeping and insidious integration of Critical Race Theory into SC’s education system. No child should be taught that they are defined by their skin color or ethnicity.

I completely agree with the second sentence of that. I could probably write a book on the first sentence. I haven’t really gotten into it here on the blog because I would pretty much have to write a book to explain what I think, as opposed to the ones-and-zeroes debate over CRT that is consuming so much oxygen these days. It’s gotten to be about enough fun to talk about as abortion.

On her campaign website, she says:

Melanie will be a voice for the silent majority suffering at the hands of cancel culture, government overreach, and progressive policies which threaten our freedom, our values, and our families.

That’s from her “issues” page. Anyway, I’m planning with an undivided mind to leave Micah’s sign up, and I plan to vote for him in June. And no, I don’t plan to give him his money back for the ad, either….

Of Micah, I say what I have for the several years since I met him. He’s a smart guy, and a fine American. He’s a good representative, one of the best. Some of y’all don’t like some of the stands he’s taken, but I actually admire him for some others. Here’s one where I was particularly proud to have him as my rep. And, of course, I’ve always appreciated his having served his country in combat as a Marine officer. To me, he’s very much a representative “for the people” — for all of us.

And now, you’re seeing him face something that the few reasonable Republicans left in our country are wise to fear — someone running to the right of them in a primary. (Cue another discussion of how gerrymandering is ruining our republic.) Here’s hoping he gets re-elected anyway. Because he’s a good guy, and a good rep.

Here, by the way, is Micah’s website. The ad also links to it.

Here’s that video he sent me of his opponent, in which I think (the audio is poor) she says she is at Maurice’s BBQ joint speaking to Moms for Liberty. By the way, if you saw this post last night and didn’t see it later, that’s because I realized just before going to bed that the video, which I mentioned above, hadn’t posted. So I switched it back to draft mode, then this morning added the video, and did some editing of the sort of free-association prose that was here originally…

Teague: No-Excuse Early Voting – with Trip Wires

The Op-Ed Page

By Lynn Teague
Guest Columnist

An early voting bill, H.4919, will be heard in the House Election Laws Subcommittee on Wednesday, Feb. 9, after adjournment of the House. The bill’s two-week early in-person voting period for all qualified electors is very welcome, but it also includes some very problematic provisions.

The greatest issue is that the General Assembly is once more trying to micro-manage local government by dictating the locations of early polling places. Their formula establishing the overall number of polling places in a county based on both population and geography is fine. However, they didn’t stop there. The bill requires that early polling places include the county election office, and that no early polling location be within 10 miles of another.

This 10-mile limit would lead to very disproportionate numbers of voters attempting to use single polling places in urban centers. Richland County, for example, would be forced to accommodate up to several hundred thousand voters in Columbia’s one location – the Harden Street election office, where space, parking, and access are problematic. Other polling places would be as far away as Hopkins. The numbers of voting-age persons within the 10-mile radius around the election offices in Richland, Charleston and Greenville counties is more than 200,000 each. While some city voters might migrate out to Hopkins or Hollywood or Fountain Inn to vote, the central urban polling places would be badly stressed. Further, the state’s largest minority communities would be within the areas most affected by overcrowding and its attendant impediments to voting.

The bill further requires that applications for absentee ballots include voter identification numbers that can be taken from a range of government issued photo identifications, from passports to military identifications. However, election offices have no access to the databases of most of these numbers, so they cannot be verified. This provision would simply lead to ballots being discarded if the number is absent. On the other hand, Texas has attempted a badly designed system of verifying ID numbers on absentee ballot applications that has led to discarding high percentages of applications (20-50%). It is important that South Carolina not follow in that state’s footsteps. In the absence of any evidence that there is a real problem to be solved, this provision should be deleted, because it would harm qualified electors without providing any added election security.

Finally, South Carolina should have “notice and cure” for absentee ballots, so that voters are notified if their absentee application or absentee ballots are found defective. Voters should be aware of and able to correct deficiencies so that their votes are counted. After all, this would simply allow the greatest number of qualified electors to fulfill their civic responsibility in the way dictated by the General Assembly.

There are many other provisions of interest, which can be explored at https://www.scstatehouse.gov/billsearch.php?billnumbers=4919. Anyone who would like to let the House Election Laws Subcommittee know their thoughts on this bill should email them as soon as possible at HJudElectionLaws@schouse.gov. We need accessible and secure elections that are fair to all.

Lynn Teague is a retired archaeologist who works hard every day in public service. She is the legislative lobbyist for the South Carolina League of Women Voters.

Where were YOU people last night? The Braves WON!

I was feeling a bit disoriented by the news I was being fed this morning, so I posted this:

I mean, what’s wrong with people? Where were they last night?

Say what? Where WERE you people last night?

How will you Columbians vote tomorrow?

Who will succeed this guy, shown on the night of his 2010 victory?

No, not Colombians. I mean you people who live in that big town across the river from me.

I just thought I’d ask, before the election happens.

First, Columbians — and many of you are my friends, if I may use that word — please tell me you are going to vote. And too few do, in these elections. Far, far too few. And then, if you don’t mind, tell us whom you support, and why.

I’d tell you who I’d pick, but honestly, I don’t feel qualified to say. First, I haven’t kept up with city issues the way I did at the paper, when we kicked around those and other local matters every day in our morning meeting. And of course, I haven’t interviewed the candidates — even in the truncated form in which I once did it here on the blog.

My easiest-to-imagine leaning is toward Sam Johnson for mayor. But I’m aware that that’s because of — if I may use the word — he and his team are sort of in my friend circle. While I had trouble choosing between him and the late Steve Morrison during the election of 2010 — Morrison would have been an excellent mayor — I’ve been supportive of Steve Benjamin since then. And Sam and Michael Wukela have been very much his guys (Michael is doing communications for Sam, as I did for James three years ago). I like all those guys. Not that we are always on the same side.

Of course, being buds with people may be one of the most common reasons some would back a candidate. It’s not good enough for me, though. I need to know more. I need to have put in the time.

I also like Tameika Isaac Devine, although I don’t know her quite as well. I’ve been pretty pleased since she was elected — a remarkable election in that she proved for the first time that a black woman didn’t have to be gerrymandered into an easy district to get elected in Columbia. Also, I’m very impressed that while Sam has Mayor Benjamin’s support (as you’d expect), Tameika is backed by Howard Duvall. And there’s no one whose informed views of municipal issues I respect more than Howard’s.

So I’m sort of cheering for Sam, but I could see myself cheering for Tameika as well. If I were a Columbia resident, or still editorial page editor with the responsibility of endorsing, I’d have informed myself well enough to confidently propose a choice between them.

But I haven’t.

Meanwhile, I doubt any sort of closer examination of Daniel Rickenmann would cause me to choose him. Maybe it would, but my gut says no. I’ve seen anecdotal evidence that quite a few white business types in town are for him, however. As for Moe, well, no thanks.

As Bryan likes to say, your mileage may vary. Which brings me to my point: Never mind what I think. I’ve admitted I just don’t know. What do y’all think? And why?

Lynn Teague: And so it begins… redistricting South Carolina

The Op-Ed Page

newest 7.20.21

EDITOR’S NOTE: As I’ve said so many times, there is no one more important thing we could do to reform and reinvigorate our democracy than to end the scourge of partisan gerrymandering. And it’s hard to imagine any task more difficult. So, when I got an email from our friend Lynn Teague telling me the Senate was about to start work on reapportionment, I was assured to know she would be riding herd on the process, and asked her to write us a situationer. I’m deeply grateful that she agreed to do so…

By Lynn Teague
Guest Columnist

The Senate Redistricting Subcommittee will hold its first meeting to begin the process of redrawing South Carolina’s legislative district boundaries on July 20, and the House is planning its first meeting on August 3. The redistricting process, held every ten years to adjust legislative districts to changes in population, is required by the U. S. Constitution. It is among the most important political processes in our system of government, but one that the public often ignores. The impact isn’t immediately obvious without a closeup look, and a closeup look can easily leave citizens confused by technical details and jargon. The nonpartisan League of Women Voters wants to see that change. We intend to do all that we can to demystify and inform the public and encourage participation.

Lynn Teague

Lynn Teague

Why should you care? Gerrymandering is designing district boundaries so that the outcome in the November general election is a foregone conclusion. At present South Carolina is not heavily gerrymandered by party (although there are surely those who would like to change that in the upcoming process). It is, however, very noncompetitive. The map of Senate districts shows how many voters had no real choice at the polls in November 2020. Why is this? Sometimes it is because the population in an area is very homogenous and any reasonable district that is drawn will lean predictably toward one party or the other. However, too often the problem is incumbent protection. This is a game that both parties can and do play, carefully designing districts to make them easy to win the next time around. Because of this obvious temptation, the United States is the only nation that allows those with an obvious vested interest in the outcome to draw district boundaries.

The other major impact of designing very homogenous districts is that it feeds polarization. Representatives are able to remain in office by responding only to the most extreme elements of their own parties, those who participate enthusiastically in primary elections, and ignore the broader electorate. When you call or write your senator or representative and get no meaningful response, this is often the reason. He or she doesn’t have to care what you think. When you wonder why our legislators take positions that are more extreme than those of the South Carolina electorate as a whole, this is why. They are looking out for themselves in the primary election. They don’t need to be concerned about your vote in November.

What can you do? The League of Women Voters hopes that citizens across the state will participate in public hearings, write to their own representatives and senators, and urge representatives not to distort districts to protect incumbents or parties. Both Senate and House will hold public meetings across South Carolina to solicit comment on how redistricting should be done. The dates for these meetings have not been announced.

The League of Women Voters of South Carolina will be hearing from our own group of independent experts in our League advisory group, will present our own maps, will testify in public hearings, and will encourage members of the public to participate. Everyone can follow along as we present information that is needed to understand and participate on our website at www.lwvsc.org. Click on “Redistricting: People Powered Fair Maps for South Carolina.” There you can also subscribe to our blog, VotersRule2020. Follow @lwvsc on Twitter and “League of Women Voters of South Carolina” on Facebook. Our theme is #WeAreWatching. Everyone should watch along with us, and let their legislators know that they shouldn’t make the decision about who wins in November.

Lynn Teague is a retired archaeologist who works hard every day in public service. She is the legislative lobbyist for the South Carolina League of Women Voters.

Fund-raisers are really… quite emotional… aren’t they?

At some point, I should probably unsubscribe from all these Democratic Party fund-raising emails that, since I was on James’ campaign, do more to clog up my Inbox than anything. But I continue to be mildly fascinated by the various strategies they employ to try to get me stirred up enough to open up my wallet.

They seldom try to do this with reason. Talking me into a rational decision to invest in their causes isn’t really part of the playbook. They’re more about stirring emotion — elation over good news, sorrow over bad news, outrage over anything done or said by their various stock villains (Mitch McConnell, that insane woman from Georgia, You Know Who)….

And sometimes, they weep. I’m referring to the headline on the email pictured below: “tears in our eyes.”

They’re sort of like what Reisman said about Col. Breed. They’re really — quite emotional, aren’t they?

Come on, people. Your cause is just — what the Republicans are trying to do, in the way of suppressing the vote, is a bad thing. But hold off on the waterworks, please. You don’t want me looking at you like this, do you?

tears