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October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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When Is The Frontrunner Not The Frontrunner?
Jimmy Moore
March 7, 2002

There is a common practice in college sports, specifically football and basketball, to pick the teams in the pre-season who are favored to win the national championship. Without playing a single game, certain teams are given superiority over other teams based on the subjective preferences of sports writers.

The reasons given for choosing one team over another has to do with a team’s past successes, their ability to play the game well and their returning star players. Regardless of where the teams are ranked in the pre-season, however, it has historically not been a very reliable system for choosing who will ultimately win the last game of the season.

Thinking of elections, doesn’t this sound familiar?

In every election that I can remember, the exact same thing has happened. Candidates who are given the title of “frontrunner” have the auspicious prestige of leading without ever opening their mouths in support of a single issue. Many of these “frontrunners” use the extra leverage they get from holding that title to lead the way on the issues in the election.

However, with seven GOP gubernatorial candidates in South Carolina, the heavily-favored and highly-lauded “frontrunner” for the Republican nomination at the beginning of the political season has failed to spend any of the political capital that he has had at his disposal. Also, many people have been anxiously awaiting to hear his platform for leading this state as governor. Unfortunately, all any of us has heard is deafening silence!

With less than 100 days until the June 11th primary, the “frontrunner” has not yet revealed how he feels on any of the major issues of South Carolina residents. Frankly, the other candidates have done a much better job of explaining their positions on a variety of topics, including tax reform, cutting state government and improving education. Shouldn’t the “frontrunner” at least have an opinion regarding these and other issues?

With the “frontrunner” remaining silent, his support has been slipping fast. What used to be an almost guaranteed win for him will now be much closer than people first thought. Polling data across the state shows his popularity has fallen drastically as the “frontrunner” has dropped to third and fourth in many of the recent polls taken regarding the GOP gubernatorial race.

Is there still time for the “frontrunner” to resuscitate his sinking ship? Possibly. An aggressive campaign to tell people where he stands may go a long way in the minds of many voters who may or may not be paying attention to politics right now anyway.

But, there is a lot of ground to make up for the “frontrunner” to catch up with the other candidates who have been rapidly pressing forward with their ideas for when they become governor. With the “frontrunner” falling into obscurity, it has come down to a two-man race, pitting the two candidates who have opposing tax reform proposals against each other in a public referendum on which plan is better.

Since there will be small pockets of support for each of the other candidates, there will most likely be a runoff election between the two aforementioned candidates. This runoff election will probably not include the “frontrunner.”

Here’s the burning question: When is the “frontrunner” not the frontrunner?

Like so many preseason favorites in college sports who become overconfident, arrogant and rely on past successes when playing against other teams, don’t be surprised when the “frontrunner” in the GOP governor’s race stumbles and falls in the June primary.

I smell an upset!

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