By: Phil Noble –
This column is being written before the primary elections on Tuesday June 6, but I already know what will happen – nothing.
The primary elections in both parties have been about as close to nothing as any in memory. There are no big issues, no outsized candidates, no hot debates – and no voter interest. In short, an election about nothing.
At the outset, let me stipulate that I’m sure that all the candidates are good and decent people. I am sure they all go to church every Sunday and love their state, their family and their dog. And if you don’t believe me, just watch their campaign commercials on TV.
That said, what this state needs is candidates with big ideas, a bold vision and a clear purpose – other than just to see themselves in office.
So let’s do a quick rundown of the races.
First the US Senate race. The Lindsey Graham race is as close as we come to a real race. And I call it the Lindsey Graham race as that’s what it is – all about Lindsey. Lindsey is miles ahead in the polls, has raised tons of money, and has a legion of special-interest billionaires ready to ride in and bury any opponent under a mountain of cash if there is even the intimation that it will be a competitive race.
As for Lindsey’s Republican opponents – the only big idea than any of them have is their iron clad promise not to be Lindsey Graham if they are elected. If you combined them all together — their poll standing, campaign cash and their ideas – they don’t come close to matching what Lindsey has. On Election Day, he’ll blow his opponents away – the only question is by how much.
It is only in the fall election that this Senate race might become interesting. Thomas Ravenel, the discredited cocaine cowboy that was briefly our state Treasurer, is threating to run against Graham as an independent. Most recently, Ravenel’s principal claim to fame (on infamy) has been his embarrassingly bad cable TV reality show, which showcased the fact that he has high stacks of cash and low standards of personal dignity. Although a Ravenel campaign would be nothing more than an expensive indulgence of political vanity, he could do damage to Lindsey and pull his vote total into the low 40s.
Its seems largely on this hope and prayer that Ravenel will run and spend tons of his own money beating up on Lindsey that Democratic state Senator Brad Hutto jumped into the race at the last minute. His strategy seems to be to hope Lindsey and Ravenel kill each other and the base Democratic vote of about 43% will be enough for him to win.
The Republican primary for Lt. Governor has generated more candidates than interest. I recently attended a joint appearance of all four candidates and it went as follows: Henry McMaster talked about himself and said he loves Ronald Reagan; Pat McKinney talked about himself and said he loves Nikki Haley; Mike Campbell talked about himself and said he loves his father; and Ray Moore talked about himself and said he loves God. Beyond this, the details were fairly predictable.
The race for State Superintendent of Education has generated even less interest and even more candidates; there are ten Republican candidates and four Democrats. Despite the fact that education is the single most important issue in our state, there has been precious little media attention and understandably so. How do you cover 14 candidates at once?
I have three friends that I regularly talk with about SC politics as they are my reality check about what folks are thinking about politics and I recently spoke with each of them. The local bank president said, “I don’t hear a thing.” My barber said, “People can’t quit talking about Obama.” And my friend who lives in public housing said, “What’s the difference?”
And that about sums it up. At a time when our state has vitally important issues to deal with, we are having an election about nothing.