I am a Democrat. And with that quote, cowboy, movie star, humorist and social commentator William Penn Adair Rogers accurately summed up what it feels like to be a Democrat some 75 years after his death.
Last night, we attended the Florence County Democratic Party convention and we were once again reminded of the sage comment by Oklahoma's favorite son. Not a whole lot to report from the convention. Several of the statewide candidates were in attendance. Lt. Governor-candidate Ashley Cooper was there. It was the first time we have seen Cooper speak and we must say, we thought he was pretty good. Cooper's experience as a lawyer and the fact that he has been out on the campaign trail for a while now shone through. We would like to see him go against whomever grabs the GOP nomination in a real debate. Cooper comes across as likable and sharp. The one problem he faces, is that this is the first office he has ever run for. Then again, Cooper seems bright enough to make that work for him instead of against him. We'll see.
Both Superintendent of Education candidates where present, Tommy Thompson and Frank Holleman. Holleman has an impressive resume. Harvard grad, London School of Economics, served as Deputy Secretary to Dick Riley when Riley was the Secretary of Education. Holleman is from Greenville, so we would be curious to see if he could make any headway up there. Given the political climate of the upstate, that is doubtful. Thompson, like Cooper, is a rookie in politics. He's got a compelling bio, one of seven boys born to a family of nine children in Chicago. He has climbed his way up the ladder teaching and administrating, to where he is now in administration at S.C. State University. Thompson seems like an engaging guy, but in all candor, right now that seems about all he has.
Probably the most interesting thing we noticed, was the gubernatorial candidates. More specifically, who DID NOT attend. State Senator Vince Sheheen and his wife, Amy, were in attendance. State Senator Robert Ford was also present. Jim Rex sent a staffer and his Rex Mobile. We find that telling and here's why: Sheheen is on a roll. Dwight Drake's dropping out came right after Sheheen's folks corralled about 50 legislators in the lobby of the Statehouse for a public endorsement of Sheheen. You tie that in with Sheheen's growing campaign coffers and with the poll that came out yesterday showing Sheheen almost dead even now with Rex and it is apparent that Sheheen is rising and Rex is sinking like a stone. In all candor, we don't believe Sheheen and Rex are as close as those polls indicate. We think amongst Democrats who are following the primary, Sheheen is well out in front of Rex. Be that as it may, if Rex still thinks he has a legitimate shot, why the hell is he not at the Florence County Democratic Convention?
Sidebar: If you are a Democrat running for statewide office, there are three areas you absolutely must try to carry: the Pee Dee, Charleston and Columbia. Forget the Upstate, it ain't happening. And to carry the Pee Dee, you have to have Florence. Rex has conceded Florence, which means he has conceded the Pee Dee. Sorry, Rex, but game over. We think the only questions left, is exactly when Rex drops out. As far as the party is concerned, the sooner the better.
Locally, the most followed race is obviously going to be the race for the City Council District #2 seat. Why? Because that's Ed Robinson's seat and come June 13th, Ed will have opposition from two quality candidates: Pat Gibson-Hye and Spencer Scott. Last night, when Robinson got up to address the convention he basically said very little, simply stating he had been in that seat for 20 years and he would let his work over those 20 years speak for itself. We thought both Gibson-Hye and Scott missed the opportunity to get up afterwards and say something such as: "I found Councilman Robinson's remarks telling...because 'the work' Ed has been doing the past 20 years is exactly why I am running." Alas, both Gibson-Hye and Scott want to run without being negative. We feel confident in predicting that same courtesy will not be extended by the incumbent.
Another contested city council race that will be the source of some attention is Teresa Ervin's bid to unseat another longtime incumbent: Billy D. Williams. Last night, Billy D got up and talked about all that Billy D was done during his nearly 25 years in that seat. According to Billy D, Billy D has brought back $1.5 to $2 million dollars from Washington. (Can we get an itemized accounting of that Billy D? And which is it, by the way? That's a $500k difference, you know). And now they want to take Billy D's travel away. Yes...Billy D and the argument over Billy D's travel money was in attendance at the convention. Too bad Councilman Bradham was not in attendance...we could have had our own useless waste of time, just like at a council meeting.
Teresa Ervin was also in attendance. Ervin has a very nice bio herself. Born in a house on Sumter Street, delivered by a midwife right there in the home, Ervin has put herself through school and become quite successful in her own right. If you saw Monday's City Council meeting, you may have seen Ervin go in front of council to address a civilian review committee in regards to the Police Department. One thing we liked, was when it was suggested to refer it to committee, Mrs. Ervin made a point of saying that she wanted council to look at the information theirself and make a decision. Basically, she was calling the practice of referring crap to committee out, which is pretty lame. Come on, review the information yourself then make a decision. This stuff is not rocket science and the continual delay we get over the most basic stuff is simply a refusal to actually take a stand or make a decision. We think council could stand to heed that advice.
That was pretty much the lowdown of what happened. We also heard that will be a candidate for the at-large seat, which means Glynn Willis will most likely have opposition in the general. We also are hearing there will be a democratic challenger in one of the local state rep races. Anyway, it's over and it's on to the Democratic primary June 13th. Here's to hoping the results of the primary are more inspiring than the sorry-looking lobster tails we got from Ruby Tuesday's afterwards. We've had shrimp bigger than those things.