“Perhaps the Haley-Sheheen rematch will be all that and more, a nail-biting, barn-burning, fight-to-the-finish, last man/woman standing extravaganza that comes down to uncounted ballots found in a closet at the Richland County Elections Commission weeks after the voting.” — City Watch, July 10, 2013
I offered that observation after The Fix, a Washington Post political blog, rated the 2014 Nikki Haley-Vincent Sheheen contest at No. 7 among the top races for governor nationwide.
While that was a nice moment for Sheheen, it seemed like an overly rosy forecast to me. From the same column: “But is an upset likely, or is Vincent Sheheen’s best chance behind him? If he couldn’t beat little-known, much-troubled Rep. Nikki Haley last time, can he defeat sitting Gov. Nikki Haley this time? I tend to doubt it.”
I still do. And I still think the Democrats would have been stronger with a different candidate, rather than the one Haley already dispatched. While Sheheen is a fine representative from Camden in the family tradition, he is not a politician who has excited voters outside of Kershaw County. He had his chance, and his party should have moved on.
At the time, I suggested that Richland County Rep. James Smith would be good for the Dems, citing his combination of legislative experience, forthright demeanor and combat service in Afghanistan as a profile that could appeal to independents and disaffected Republicans.
I also speculated privately that a return to the political stage by former Gov. Jim Hodges could make for an interesting race — South Carolina’s first-ever Gov. vs. Gov. throw-down. But talking with him one night at Devine Foods, I sensed no interest at all on his part, so I never finished the “Hodges Should Hop In” column I had started.
In any case, Haley now looks much stronger than she did a year ago, with both her personal approval numbers and the public’s outlook on the state economy improving significantly in the recent Winthrop Poll. She is also a much stronger campaigner than Sheheen, making it a tough hill for him to climb.
Indeed, the latest horserace survey, conducted by Pulse Opinion Research for Rasmussen Reports and released April 17, showed Haley leading Sheheen by 52 percent to 37 percent, with only 7 percent of voters undecided and 3 percent committed to another candidate. While that’s more of a cakewalk than a horserace, Sheheen seems not to realize it’s time to be bold. Pardon my French, but if he is going to make a race of it he needs to grow a pair politically.
I was reminded of that again last week when the national Republican Governors Association launched its ad campaign about attorney Sheheen having represented men convicted of domestic violence and child abuse. While one would have expected a full-throated, hell-raising defense of the right to counsel and American jurisprudence from him, Sheheen’s response was painfully weak. Indeed, he offered no response himself, with his campaign issuing a statement saying Sheheen only handled a handful of criminal cases and that the ones being cited were a decade old.
Wow, that’s telling ‘em!
Fortunately for Sheheen, within a few days some less reticent attorneys from the South Carolina Bar Association and the American Bar Association began offering that full-throated, hell-raising defense of the constitutional right to legal representation.
Why didn’t Sheheen do that himself? Why didn’t he immediately lead the legal community’s response to the alleged attack on both their profession and the Constitution?
Just as Sheheen looked weak and defensive in this matter, he also looked weak and defensive on the issue of gay marriage when a South Carolina Highway Patrol officer and her partner sued to change the law in South Carolina. The Democratic standard bearer declined to call for equality under the law.
As I wrote then, “By openly supporting gay marriage, Sheheen could have lit a fire under the Democratic base, positioning himself as a political warrior rather than a political wimp. To make a run at an incumbent governor, he needs to develop that persona, both personally and politically.”
It ain’t happening. While Democrats are still waiting for Sheheen to take chances, Republicans are now salivating about a seventh win in the past eight gubernatorial elections.
Fisher is president of Fisher Communications, a Columbia advertising and public relations firm. He is active in local issues involving the arts, conservation, business and politics.
Music Break at Music Farm Columbia
Join COR for an evening of networking for music and business leaders on September 3rd, featuring performances by Josh Roberts and the Hinges, Death of Paris, Fat Rat Da Czar, and Lazy A and the Green Thang. Free admission for musicians and members! Register here.
Happy Hour and Sushi Specials All Week
Red Bowl in Lexington now has great early bird and late night sushi specials 7 days a week, as well as 99-cent kids meals on Saturdays! Click here for special information and hours.
Accepting Applications for Shakespeare’s Kidz!
Students ages 10-16 are invited to join South Carolina Shakespeare’s new youth company, with classes running September 20th-December 11th followed by a final performance. Learn and hone audition skills, monologues, and scenes from Shakespeare and modern works! Contact Katie Mixon with questions about scholarships and applications: PKatieMixon@gmail.com.
Make Your Own Beer and Wine!
Come get started on your “liquid hobby” and help us celebrate our 46th year in the Columbia area. Bet Mar Liquid Hobby Shop: 736 St. Andrews Road.
A two-day outdoor art and crafts show celebrating its 38th year. Being held on September 5 & 6, 2014, Click for details
Not Your Typical Greek Restaurant
Ariana’s in West Columbia serves up delicious all-natural, low carb dishes, as well as homemade bread and baklava. Come try the best salad dressing in town! Location info and hours here.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Company seeking carpenters, plumbers, masons work is year around with a 40 year old company. Starting pay is $10.00 but experienced individuals will be compensated accordingly. Must have a clean driving record and must bring a copy of your driving record to the interview. Please call 803-865-1200.
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Pool Cleaning-Full and part time available. Must have a clean driving record, be organized and have a professional appearance. Starting Pay is $10.00 per hr, please call for an interview, please bring a copy of your Driving record and a list of all past employers with duration of employment listed as well as telephone numbers for references. Cal 803-865-1200
Real Estate Spotlight
Mungo Homes. Celebrating 60 years of our family building for your family. mungo.com