Runoff Hinges On Beasley's Flamboyance Against DeMint's Steadfastness
June 10, 2004
And then there were two.
A former one-term governor against a sitting three-term Congressman for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings.
A man who touts his personal values and caters to the Christian right with strong stances against abortion and gambling versus an accomplished Washington veteran who has already faced the pressure of Capitol Hill for the past six years.
David Beasley and Jim DeMint are two very different men vying for the opportunity to faceoff with Democratic Senate nominee Inez Tenenbaum in November.
Let's start with Beasley.
From the time he got into this race late in February until primary election day on June 8, there was little doubt in anyone's mind that he would get the most votes among the six candidates.
But now the test begins for Beasley.
Will he woo enough supporters of Thomas Ravenel (who actually endorsed DeMint on Wednesday), Charlie Condon, Mark McBride and Orly Benny Davis to his side?
Conventional wisdom and political pundits say that Beasley has already maximized his electoral chances on primary day.
The only way he could pull off a win at this point is to mobilize all of the people who voted for him in the primary to do so again and hope that a large majority of voters who oppose him stay home for the runoff on June 22.
Nearly two-thirds of the voters chose someone other than Beasley in the primary. Was he the second choice for any of the voters who chose other candidates? Many believe that he is not.
Of course, Beasley does have one positive working in his favor.
Since DeMint is from the Upstate, the same area of the state current U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham is from, there will be traditionalists who will vote for Beasley soley because they want to keep the Senate seats "balanced."
I never have understood this since a U.S. Senator represents the entire state, not just one area of that state.
Nevertheless, that is an obstacle that DeMint will need to overcome. But he's got some really good news on his side as well.
For starters, DeMint, as was already noted, was endorsed by Ravenel on Wednesday. In a narrow defeat to DeMint in the primary election, Ravenel brought nearly one-fourth of voters to the polls who believed in his campaign of positive change about tomorrow rather than dwelling on the past.
His message of change put up a good fight and fell just short. But now Ravenel believes DeMint will carry that banner well for the Republicans against Tenenbaum.
If a good majority of Ravenel supporters move to DeMint's campaign in the runoff, then DeMint will easily coast to victory regardless of what Beasley voters do.
And, quite frankly, it does not significantly matter what the supporters for Condon, McBride and Davis do since there were so few votes between them. But most people contend that DeMint will also pick up most of those votes as well.
As I have stated in my previous column, I believe DeMint is the most ready-made person to become the next U.S. Senator from South Carolina. His Washington experience cannot be overlooked and he would make an impact working in tandum with Graham from day one.
But Beasley would be a strong voice for conservatives in the hallowed chamber of 100, supporting conservative ideals on taxes and social issues, among others.
The choice comes down to the flamboyance of Beasley pitted against the steadfastness of DeMint.
Beasley needs to somehow convince Republicans what he will do (not what he has already done as governor) for the state if elected to the U.S. Senate. He must give people who did not vote for him in the primary a reason to vote for him now. It's a daunting task for the ex-governor.
DeMint should excentuate his experience in Washington and tell voters that he has the legislative knowledge and contacts on Capitol Hill to immediately meet the challenges that he will face.
Which of these two men will voters choose to annihilate Tenenbaum in November?
In a few short days, we will know the answer to that question.
POLL: Did you vote in the primary for Beasley, DeMint or Ravenel? Then click on this link and take part in the SC GOPUSA poll!