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A Wizard of Oz Governor's Race
Jimmy Moore
February 12, 2002

I recently watched on DVD for the first time in many years one of the all-time classic movies, "The Wizard of Oz." As each of the characters were being introduced, strangely enough, many of them reminded me of some of the candidates and players in the 2002 governor's race in South Carolina. We will call it a "Wizard of Oz" 2002 Governor's Race in South Carolina!

Here is the cast of stars and the characters they play:

Bob Peeler is the Straw Man
Mark Sanford is the Tin Man
Jim Hodges is the Cowardly Lion
Dick Harpootlian is Dorothy
Kevin Geddings is Toto
Charlie Condon is The Wizard of Oz

The Straw Man, if you recall, was more than a couple of fries short of a Happy Meal. His quest in life was to get a brain so he could be more intelligent. Bob Peeler may have a brain, but he certainly is not using it right now.

One would think that the supposed frontrunner of the GOP candidates for governor would stand for something, anything! You would assume that he would have some bright ideas for making South Carolina a better place to live. Maybe he has some grand tax scheme to help solve the financial woes of the state (oh yeah, he did say to “stay tuned” recently on The Ralph Bristol Show on WORD-AM. We’ll be waiting!).

He has proposed to use the first 6 months of lottery money to pay for an entire new fleet of school busses across South Carolina. But even this is an intellectually lazy idea since many of the busses run just fine. A gradual replacement of the fleet over time would be a better solution than an across the board overhaul. The lottery monies would be better spent on early childhood development for kids to get a jumpstart on their education. Come on, Bob, get a brain!

The Tin Man lamented that he did not have a heart. Mark Sanford can certainly relate. His proposal to eliminate the state income tax in South Carolina is about as heartless as it comes. Who wants to wait 18 years for a tax break to take full effect? And, in the meantime, certain other taxes will go up and up and up, thus, putting an extra financial burden on the hard working taxpaying citizens of South Carolina. Is Mark Sanford serious about this plan?

If Sanford were to become the next governor of South Carolina and somehow get his 18-year income tax elimination plan passed through the state legislature, does he really think that it will last until the year 2021? The people of South Carolina cannot wait that long for tax relief! Mark Sanford should be concerned about cutting the taxes of South Carolinians now, not gradually over the next 18 years! Come on, Mark, get a heart!

The Cowardly Lion was scared of everything because he lacked courage. Sound familiar, Gov. Hodges? Jim Hodges is desperate to get reelected to office in November. He is touting his supposed successes, including the almighty “education lottery,” as reasons why the people of South Carolina should vote for him. But he is running scared knowing his approval ratings are sagging in the 30% range and that he will be facing a strong GOP challenger in the general election.

If Jim Hodges had any courage at all, he would be doing something to help South Carolina. All he has done lately is propose the most ludicrous state budget in the history of the state. That’s not leadership, Mr. Hodges. That’s fear! Come on, Jim, get some courage!

Dorothy and her dog Toto had only one goal: they wanted to go home. Dick Harpootlian and Kevin Geddings may not want to go home, but everyone else in South Carolina wants them to! Come on, Dick and Kevin, there’s no place like home!

That leaves us with the Wizard of Oz himself. The Wizard was a man who empowered people to be the best they could be. He provided them with the proper tools to make their lives better. And that is exactly what Charlie Condon is doing with his proposed personal property tax elimination plan. He is empowering the citizens of South Carolina to spend, invest or save the money they would have paid the government for personal property taxes on homes, cars and businesses. The numbers in his proposal not only add up to pay for the replacement of all personal property taxes, but it actually produces a slight increase in overall revenue.

A few people are doubting the sincerity of this plan, just as the characters in the Wizard of Oz doubted the Wizard’s ability to really help them. But, in the end, everyone realized that the Wizard was really able to make their dreams come true. And so will Charlie Condon. He may not be the real Wizard of Oz, but his conservative plan to revive the South Carolina economy should make every citizen of South Carolina line up right now in support of his candidacy for governor.

And that would make this 2002 gubernatorial race in South Carolina a classic, too!

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