We are less than 48 hours from polls opening for the 2010 elections. So how's it gonna shape out? Is there really going to be a national wave that sweeps the nation and destroys anyone who thinks government should ever do a single thing? Is the "wave" just a product of hyper-aggressive FOXNews driving the political narrative because the rest of the media buys into some lame-ass, chickenshit, "we have to present two sides to everything, even if the other side is based on complete bullshit, because we've forgotten journalism means actually calling people to the carpet?" Did Stewart and Colbert frame the debate yesterday? Do we really have to choose between sanity or fear?
Who the hell knows. All we know is that midterm election cycle has been as ridiculously charged and spiteful a cycle as we can ever remember.
Personally, on a national scale, we think the conventional wisdom is right: Dems keep the Senate and lose the House. Several folks in the know have told us they believe it is a lot closer than people realize in the House, but historically, the Dems should lose it (the party in power always loses in midterms). In all reality, the bar has been set so low for the Dems (something we still can't believe the GOP allowed to happen), that even coming close to holding serve can be played as a huge win. We're scared to death at the prospect of having disingenuous idiots like Sharon Angle or Christine O'Donnell in position to affect the lives of millions of Americans. That shit is frightening. Hopefully Americans have more sense than that. Then again, there's a reason Jerry Springer's show was so damn popular.
Alas, we will focus our prognostication efforts on races that directly impact those of us here in the Pee Dee.
Governor = Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D), Rep. Nikki Haley (R), Morgan Bruce Reeves (G & UC)
First, let's deal with Reeves. Who? Exactly. Reeves is actually on the ballot under both the Green party and the United Citizens party. Apparently the Rent is Too Damn High party chose not to open a chapter in SC. No...this race comes down to Sheheen and Haley. We first talked about Sheheen way back in May of 2009, when he made his first campaign stop here in Florence. If memory serves us correct, back then, Sheheen was more than 20 points behind in the polls for the Democratic primary. By the end of January 2010, Sheheen was back in Florence for an oyster roast Meet & Greet that drew a very nice, diverse and bi-partisan crowd (250+). Last Friday, Sheheen (along with Congressman Clyburn) headlined the first ever Florence County Stump, an event that drew a crowd of over 1200 folks. In between those last two events, Sheheen won the Democratic primary outright, a race many expected a runoff in. The point is, Sheheen has worked Florence and the Pee Dee very hard and we have gotten to see his growth, not just in the polls, but as a candidate. He has proven he can overcome odds stacked against him and surprise the pundits.
Haley? She has been here a few times. In fact, she came through Florence the day after the Florence County Stump and spoke at a stump the local Tea Party hosted. We have heard the crowd for that event was less than a hundred. Haley is a lightweight. She's all sizzle, no steak. A friend reminded us this weekend of a great editorial The State ran comparing the actual records of these two candidates. It's pretty damn revealing.
"Haley has introduced 15 substantive bills, of which one has become law &Quite simply, there is no comparison. All you have to do to see this is look at the campaigns they have run. During all the debates, Haley whined that "Senator...you've used more than 80% of your ad budget negatively attacking me." But to Haley, a "negative" ad is simply an ad that has her saying one thing, then showing third party sources that prove she did another. Meanwhile, all of Haley's ads that mention Sheheen consist of ad-hominem attacks ("trial lawyer," "big spending liberal," and "Columbia insider") or pictures of President Obama. She can't run on any specific ways she is better than Sheheen, because Haley is not about specifics. Never has been. Her campaign has centered on anything other than South Carolina. She's had Palin and Romney in her to campaign for her. She's held fundraisers out of state. She's constantly bringing up Obama or Arizona's immigration law. She is a charlatan.
one has been adopted as a House rule. Sheheen has introduced 119 substantive
bills of which 18 have become statewide law & four have become local
law...What’s most striking about Sheheen’s list is its sweep & the extent to
w...hich it reflects initiatives that either know no partisan boundaries or that
easily cross them."
So...who's it gonna be? We have repeatedly said since August that all the polls that had Haley up were flawed. Why? Because we don't believe that voters who identify as Republican, always vote Republican, and plan on voting for every other Republican on the ballot are going to honestly admit to a pollster that they are gonna cross over and vote against their party's candidate. They know the people calling them make lists. You know how they know? Because they're calling them from one! They don't admit it, because they don't want to wind up on another list that says they did not vote Republican. But when they walk in that booth, it's gonna be another story.
We heard some poll numbers last week from another campaign that had polled on this race and they had this race at 45-41. There are many who believe it is a straight out coin flip. We think Sheheen takes it. Why? Besides the reasons listed above (ie., he just deserves to win more than she does), take a look around Florence. Have you ever seen so many signs of any Democrat prominently displayed in Republican neighborhoods? Have you eve seen so many Republicans attend a Democrats events as you've seen attend Sheheens? Hell...screw attending...how about hosting? It's gonna be close. We're gonna be up late into the night watching the results come in. But when they do, Vincent Sheheen is gonna be the Governor-elect for South Carolina.
BTPC predicts = Sheheen
Lt. Governor = Ken Ard (R), Ashley Cooper (D)
There is a popular conspiracy theory floating out there on the internets, that those darned GOP "Columbia Insiders" that Nikki Haley wants you to believe so desperately that she is not one of (despite her cush gigs she got with Wilbur Smith and Lexington Hospital) have a plan. They've got the goods on Nikki and her affairs. But they're waiting to unleash them until AFTER she has been elected. Then, they can impeach her or force her to resign, at which point Ard ascends to be Governor. (There's also an alternative theory that they don't actually have the goods, but that they've got an Indian porn actress who they will shoot in flagrante delicto on some grainy video footage and then leak that footage). We like Ard. He's a nice and decent guy who comes from a great family. But...please. With the problems this state is facing, we need someone with a little more weight and gravitas than the good old boy from Pamplico being our governor. Lt. Governor is one thing. Running the ship of state is another.
Cooper is incredibly sharp and has surprised us with just how good a candidate he has become, in this his first time on any ballot. Regardless of the outcome of this race, we expect to hear much more from Cooper in the future. We have heard that Cooper has actually gotten a great reception from the corporate world here in SC, which would make sense. Cooper's law practice deals with utilities, so it's no surprise that Cooper is comfortable in the corporate climate and that he has impressed those on that plain.
We think Cooper has worked incredibly hard and made this close than many thought it would be. But we think Ard is going to take it for two reasons. First, Ard had a very contested primary race that served to get his name out statewide. We think Cooper has been able to use his ties in the legal community and business world to help him make up some ground, but that kind of exposure is not quite the same as being part of a heated primary race. Second, and this is odd, we think the Sheheen crossover phenomenon may backfire a bit with Cooper. It's good in the sense that way more Republicans are going to refrain from pulling that straight party lever because they do not want to vote for Haley. But...because we think a lot of them are going to vote AGAINST the Republican Gubernatorial candidate, we think that is gonna make some of those same folks less likely to vote against the GOP's Lt. Governor candidate. Let's call it the balancing-it-out effect. That said, we think it's gonna be close and we certainly would not mind being wrong on this one.
BTPC predicts: Ard
Secretary of State: Mark Hammond (R), Marjorie L. Johnson (D)
BTPC predicts: Hammond
Attorney General: Leslie Minerd (G), Alan Wilson (R), Matthew Richardson (D)
This one is another interesting race. We have said it before and we will say it again: Alan Wilson is a nice guy. We like Alan Wilson. But being a nice guy and having prosecuted cases does not an Attorney General make. In fact, if one looks at the record of our current Attorney General, one could argue that things would have been a lot better had the AG NOT gotten involved in prosecuting several high profile cases (the Darlington Sex Dungeon case and the Craig's list fiasco to be specific). What concerns us most with our Attorney General's office is the politicalization of it. There was an interesting motion filed in Rep. Kris Crawford's case, moving for dismissal of the charges against Rep. Crawford because of prosecutorial misconduct. And what was that misconduct? It was Henry Mac, going out in public and comparing the charges against Crawford to Haley's tax problems. Technically speaking, Henry was right...but a prosecutor isn't supposed to be out there doing that shit in public. They have ethical duties, not just to society at large and to victims, but to those they are prosecuting as well. We recognized that motion because we toyed around with one very similar concerning the "no-drop" policies that McMaster imposed on his assistant AGs, policies Wilson has not disavowed (which is sad considering we know Wilson knows how stupid "no-drops" are...he used to have to prosecute crap cases because of it).
Richardson is against no-drop policies, which in and of itself tells you he respects the duty of a prosecutor and wants to get politics out of the way of the prosecutors who are going to be handling the cases. That in and of itself is worth your vote. Additionally, we think administration and the ability to handle complex civil litigation is much more important for the next AG of South Carolina. If that's the case, Richardson is the easy choice. How do we know? Because the law is our bailiwick and we can think of no situation in which if these two candidates were both at the same firm, Wilson would not be working under Richardson. Hey..that's not a knock on Wilson. If we were in the same firm as Richardson, we're sure we'd be an associate handling his grunt work was well. It's simply the reality of experience and the knowledge it carries. Richardson is the better lawyer and when you are voting for the person to be the State's lawyer, that should be the main qualifier.
Having said all that, Wilson should win this. His last name is, after all, Wilson. His daddy is Joe "You Lie!" Wilson and this is SC. Alan has been campaigning extremely hard for about two years, while Richardson got into the race late. Late it may have been, Richardson has dropped a TON of money into this race. His commercials are on the tube more than just about any other Democrat and releasing his fifth one Friday. He has connections all over the state, thanks in large part to his family's history here, his Grandfather was former Chief Judge of the SC Supreme Court, Bubba Ness. We heard some polling numbers last week that indicated this race was way closer than anyone thinks, closer in fact than Sheheen - Haley. That surprised us. It will be interesting to see how accurate those numbers were because if they are accurate, the Wilson and Richardson families are in for a long night (when conventional wisdom says Wilson should win pretty easily by 8-10 points). We still think Wilson takes it, but as in the Lt. Governor's race, we would not mind if we were wrong.
BTPC predicts: Wilson
Comptroller General: Robert Barber (D), Richard Eckstrom (R)
Hey...this race got ugly, huh? No one was really paying too much attention to this race and then...BAM...Barber unleashed that sex scandal ad, claiming Eckstrom used state funds to pay off a lady he had sexually harassed. Eckstrom's response? An ad about how you can't trust Barber because he was a lobbyist. And not just any lobbyist, but one that lobbied for...Cockfighting. Uh...not sure that's really gonna hurt Barber in this state, Dick. We do, afterall, have as the mascot of our state university, a Gamecock. Eckstrom may have actually increased Baber's appeal to the Bubba vote. We admit we know very little about this race. What does the Comptroller do? Well...it's basically the person who writes the checks for SC. Most importantly, the Comptroller is a seat on the Budget and Control Board.
Barber is a well-respected former member of the General Assembly who has strong ties in the low-country (his family's restaurant, Bowen's Island, is a Charleston-area landmark) and the upstate (he is a graduate of Wofford, very active with their alumni organization and he serves as a Trustee for Lander University). Eckstrom hasn't exactly helped himself as his reputation as a ladies man has led to several embarrassing stories about his personal life going viral thanks to bloggers in the state. Earlier this year, The State ran stories about Eckstrom's relationship with GOP rising star and Dutch Fork teacher, Kelly Payne. Is it enough to tip the scales over to Barber? Doubtful. But we're going to go out on a limb and pick Barber for this one. Hey...what fun is there in going chalk? Plus, South Carolinians do love their oysters.
BTPC predicts: Barber
State Superintendent of Education: Doretha Bull (G), Mick Zais (R), Frank Holleman (D), Tim Moultrie (L), Tony Fayyazi (I)
This race is, of course, all about Holleman and Zais. Zais is a retired US Army Brigadier General who has run Newberry College for the past decade. During that time, the college has grown and prospered financially, while being in the news some over the role religion has played in administrative and board matters. Holleman has an incredibly impressive academic resume having graduated from Furman, Harvard Law School, and the London School of Economics and Political Science. He was also picked by former Governor Dick Riley (long considered the "education governor" here in SC) to be his Chief of Staff and Deputy Secretary of Education when Riley served as President Clinton's Secretary of Education. Holleman helped create one of the few SC successful education stories in the First Steps program and has strong ties in the traditionally uber-conservative upstate (then again, so did Bob Inglis). Usually, the sole statewide office a Democrat can be expected to carry in SC is Superintendent of Education. Will that hold true Tuesday? We think it will, but it's gonna be awfully close. (God...seems like we're saying that about every race, no?)
BTPC predicts: Holleman
Commisioner of Agriculture: Tom Elliot (D), Hugh Weathers (R)
Wanna know how stacked the deck is against Elliot? Not only is SC a republican state, but since being appointed interim Commissioner in 2004, Weathers has enjoyed the benefit of every single person in this state staring at his name as they pump their gas (that little sticker certifying the gas pump you use has Weathers' name on it. Don't tell us you've never noticed that. Your subconscious has).
BTPC predicts: Weathers
US Senate: Jim DeMint (R), Alvin Greene (D), Tom Clements (G)
It really is a shame the SC State Democratic party was so incompetent that they could not recruit a real candidate to challenge DeMint. It would have been fun. We could not bring ourselves to vote for Greene simply because he had that D beside his name and we damn sure weren't gonna vote for DeMint(ed). Mr. Clements...you are our guy. That and $0.75 will get you a copy of the Florence Morning News, Monday through Saturday editions.
BTPC predicts: Jim DeMint
US House Representative District 5: John Spratt (D), Mick Mulvaney (R)
This one is the one every one is watching nationally (that and the race in District 2 between Rob Miller and Joe Wilson). A ton of outside money has been dumped in to SC by folks who smell blood in the water for Spratt, by both those who want to see him gone and those who don't. We love the fact that the attacks on Spratt are all about him being such a reckless spender. Will people forget it was John Spratt who led the way under President Clinton's administration that gave this country it's last balanced budget or that Spratt's leadership at the time helped create the largest budget surplus and biggest debt paydown in the Federal government's history?
We don't like Mulvaney. He's an opportunist. Ran for Statehouse in 2006, winning an ugly race at the time, then jumped just 2 years later into a vacated State Senate seat. Now two years after that, he wants to be voted into office while taking out a man that has served the state of SC honorably for 28 years, protecting Shaw Air Force base and giving America it's last look at actuall fiscal discipline before the George W. Bush administration took over and blew our budget like a drunken sailor on shore leave. Hell...even his name sounds like a dick: Mick Mulvaney. If you didn't see the Letter to the Editor in the Florence Morning News by the Indian Land council member, you should take a second to read it. It's not often an politician admits in public to being duped and used. When they do, it should matter.
We might very well be wrong here. If there is anyone the "wave" that is predicted should take out, it is probably John Spratt. But out of respect for all he has done for this state and this country (and out of sheer hope), we'll take Spratt.
BTPC predicts: Spratt
US House of Representatives District 6: Nammu Y. Muhammad (G), Jim Pratt (R), James Clyburn (D)
As Ochocinco would say, "Child please." The only thing Clyburn stands a shot at losing is his position as Majority Whip. The national "wave" may take that, but it ain't touching Clyburn here at home.
BTPC predicts: Clyburn
State Representative District 60: Phillip Lowe (R), Benny Webb (D)
Even without the questions about his residency, Benny Webb had a hard row to hoe. With them, damn near impossible. And that's a shame, because while Lowe is a nice guy, we a have a fundamental aversion to anyone who puts their mug on a sign.
BTPC predicts: Phillip Lowe
State Representative District 63: Kris Crawford (R), Shelia Gallagher (D & Working Families Party)
Crawford certainly has his troubles, what with being indicted and all. He also wears bowties (another aversion we have. Bowties should be restricted to those persons in the Nation of Islam, or those with no hair on their head (which basically restricts them to young children and old men). Gallegher has worked and campaigned hard after getting into the race right at the end of the filing period. We commend her on just not accepting the allowance of letting Crawford get a free pass. Will Crawford's troubles be enough allow Gallagher to slip in? Doubtful. Perhaps if more voters paid attention to the local news. We don't think they do.
BTPC predicts: Crawford
12th Circuit Solicitor: Ed Clements (D), Rose Mary Parham (R)
This has been one incredibly charged race. From allegations of targeted vandalism, lying and outright physical assault, it is troubling to see how irrational and emotional this race has become. Remember, our system of justice requires that whomever heads that office next year does so with reason and logic, not with emotion. It requires someone who administers justice, not someone to head up the lynch mob.
We have made our thoughts on this race pretty clear (see here, here and here). We believe Clement's office is the best solicitor's office in the State (an opinion conveniently supported by facts). Somehow, the fact that we practice criminal law is supposed to diminsh our opinion in the eyes of Mrs. Parham's supporters. That's stupid. Our opinion is based on the fact that we deal with Solicitor's offices from other circuits every day and we see the fair, honest and competent job our 12th Circuit staff performs in contast to those other circuits. In other words, we actually know what we are talking about.
The idea that defense attorneys simply support Clements because he cuts easy deals is retarded. Here is a cold, hard economic reality: a less resonable solicitor's office, which was "tougher" on crime (ie., wanted to take a hard line on pleas and go to trial) or who did not foster trust and faith from the defense side would only INCREASE the income of the local defense bar. That's right...it is in the best interest of our pocketbooks to have such a solictor's office. Why? Because that means more Defendants would have to go to trial, which would mean more of them would be coming up with money to hire private attorneys. However, it is not in the best interest of the residents of the 12th circuit. Believe it or not, us criminal defense attorneys actually have morals. In fact, given our job, we've got a pretty heightened sense of them which leads us to often, in the course of our work, put the interests of others ahead of our own. Hell...it's a job requirement.
We would take the time to explain how holding the opinion that the Defense bar's support is proof that Clements should not be re-elected while Mrs. Parham should be elected becase she has "the support of law enforcement" further shows a person's ignorance of the criminal justice system because cops should be considered just as biased in the equation as any defense attorney, but let's face it...if you don't already understand that, why bother.
Mrs. Parham has a fine record as a prosecutor she can be proud of. But her plea of being simply a "prosecutor and not a poltician" is belied by the ease with which she has taken to the good and bad aspects of this race.
All we can tell you is this...either way this election comes out, there are going to be some people who are very upset. If you are going to be one of those people, check this out. It's politics...don't take it personally.
Historically, Clements should win this by about 10 points. Take issue with their tactics or not, no one can deny the Parham campaign has worked hard. That hard work plus some of that "wave" will help her get the race closer than is should be. Clements by about 6.
BTPC predicts: Clements
Florence County Council Seat 6: Elijah Jones (R), Russell Culberson (D)
We have absolutely no knowledge of this seat district or how the numbers look. Culberson has been in the seat quite a long time and has no doubt accrued favors and goodwill from many folks during his tenure. Jones is a newcomer trying to ride the tea party wave into office. If there is a wave, he could do it. But we think Culberson will be saved by all those years of markers and the fact that the upticket races are gonna cause a lot of Republicans to not vote straight party. That and the fact that Jones violates our keep-your-mug-off-your-signs rule.
BTPC predicts: Culberson
Florence City Council At-large seat: Glynn Willis (R), Sam Fryer (D)
Let's face it, Willis would have won last time had it not been for the historic coattails of Obama. Those coattails ain't around for Fryer. Both are nice, decent guys who seem to genuinely care about their community and want to serve to make it better. Willis has simply been here working in a public capacity longer and after running just as hard a race as he ran last time, we think the folks of Florence are gonna feel like it's Willis deserves to get it this time. We know this goes against our keep-your-mug-off-your-signs rule, but there's always an exception. We will give Glynn a pass since we assume he felt he had to do it so no one confused him Frank...
BTPC predicts: Willis
Well...that's it. Remember, just like with our weekly NFL picks, there's a money back guarantee on all these. Enjoy. And make sure to let your bosses know you'll be in late Wednesday. We have a feeling it is gonna be a long night watching some of these results come in.