The race for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate is just three months away from being decided.
There are five men and one woman vying for the opportunity to take on the Democrat's most coveted officeholder in South Carolina -- Inez Tenenbaum -- in November to replace retiring Sen. Fritz Hollings.
The race has been remarkably quiet to this point with none of the candidates necessarily pulling ahead of the rest by any noticeable margin. But the race will be heating up soon.
With that in mind, I thought it would be educational to do an overview of each candidate and provide the odds I believe each will have of actually getting the nomination.
Former SC Gov. DAVID BEASLEY
Beasley brings to this race many interesting qualities. As a seasoned veteran in the political and business world, his life experiences at the age of 47 have been more than most people are able usually able to obtain in a lifetime. He has a clear record of standing on principle even when it costs him politically. Nevertheless, his accomplishments fiscally cannot be ignored with record-setting job creation and economic growth during his time as governor. Additionally, he helped to improve education by creating policies that would encourage learning and continuing education beyond public schools. The flap about gambling and the Confederate flag are old issues that his opponents may try to hang him on. Even still, Beasley is a name South Carolina Republicans recognize. It still remains to be seen if that is a help or a hindrance.
Former SC Attorney General CHARLIE CONDON
Condon is probably the most recognized name in this race. His excellent service as South Carolina's Attorney General in the 1990s cannot be denied. He built a reputation for being tough on criminals and standing for what was right. Like Beasley, his strong stand on the issues has made him a candidate that you either love or you hate. Based on his early campaign commercials and in his speeches, Condon is running primarily as an advocate to President George W. Bush in the war on terrorism and a leader in issues of national security. It's a smart strategy since Condon does not have any actual experience in fiscal or domestic policy. Name recognition will help him get a few votes, but Condon is going to need to do a lot of reinventing of his image to have any hope of winning this nomination. A whole lot.
Businesswoman ORLY BENNY DAVIS
Who?! That's what I said when I first heard her name. This immigrant from Israel and Italy has a very difficult task before her of getting her name in front of voters in a positive manner. Her views on the issues are certainly conservative and pro-Bush, but I cannot figure out for the life of me why Davis would subject herself to an arduous campaign schedule when it is all but certain she will not win. While I've been known to be wrong before, I don't think I am on this one. Trust me.
4th District Congressman JIM DEMINT
DeMint has certainly been active over the past year attempting to assert himself as a conservative leader while serving in Congress. His reform ideas on Social Security and health care are revolutionary and would make significant progress if enacted. DeMint's votes on tax reform, strengthening homeland security and partial-birth abortion are strong evidence that he is probably the most qualified man running in this race to fill this office. However, DeMint has a couple of problems in his quest to move across the Capitol building. He is not well known outside of the Upstate and we already have a U.S. Senator from the Upstate, Lindsay Graham. DeMint would be best served to spend a lot of time in the Midlands and Lowcountry letting them know who he is and what he has done. If not, then DeMint will be out of office completely by the end of the year.
Myrtle Beach Mayor MARK MCBRIDE
Remember Reb Sutherland from the 2002 Governor's race? While I am not comparing McBride to her flamboyance in style or substance, he has about as much chance of winning this nomination as she did. To his credit, McBride has done a great job over the past decade of running the city where tourists flock during the summer. He is a personable gentleman with a beautiful family. And I happen to think his web site is the best of the candidates in the race. But none of that overcomes McBride's biggest weakness: there's too little time for him to make a name for himself and to establish himself as different from the rest of the candidates. Although McBride will likely fail to win this nomination, his presence in this race will possibly serve as a springboard for a statewide run in 2006.
Political Newcomer THOMAS RAVENEL
Ravenel is a huge wild card in this race. Everyone already knows the Ravenel name in Palmetto politics. That's a very big plus for someone running for their first political office. And Ravenel has a very likeable charisma and genuine charm for someone new to politics. He looks like he's been campaigning for years. Ravenel does not shy away from being called a Reagan conservative and espouses many of the issues the former president undertook in the 1980s, including cutting taxes, cutting the size of government and battling enemy combatants. Of all the candidates running, Ravenel is the only one with nothing to lose. Should he make a strong showing in this election, he will have a compelling reason to run for something else and be the favorite to win that race, particularly if it is a statewide office. On the other hand, I wouldn't count Ravenel out of the Senate race just yet. I think he's going to surprise a lot of people like Sanford did in 2002. Remember, the current governor was in a distant third in the polls at this point in the campaign in 2002.
To view each of the Republican U.S. Senate candidate's web sites, please visit the Candidate's Page at GOPUSA South Carolina.
Well, there you have it. I will try to write a more in-depth story on each of these candidates before the June 8th primary.
If any of the candidates are interested in being interviewed for a story to be included at GOPUSA South Carolina and Common Voice, then please send me an e-mail at .