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October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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Commonviews 2002: What Might Have Been…
Jimmy Moore
June 4, 2002

Now that the June 11th Republican primary election in South Carolina is just one short week away, I thought it would be a different approach to reflect on what might have been if most of the seven candidates for Governor of South Carolina had run for another office.

After all, with five losers after next Tuesday and a sixth after June 25th in the GOP gubernatorial race, candidates and supporters alike will be asking themselves what might have been...

As well-spoken as he has been in the Governor’s race, there is little chance that Columbia attorney Ken Wingate will be in the runoff for the Republican nomination for Governor in his first-ever political race. However, his background as a certified public accountant and an attorney and his high-profile campaign against gambling and the lottery make him an ideal candidate for several other offices. He would have been an excellent candidate for the state legislature, Attorney General, Comptroller General or especially the State Treasurer. Capturing a smaller political office in 2002 would have built Wingate’s name recognition across the state for a future run for Governor. Our state sorely needs candidates with Ken Wingate’s vocal eloquence and passionate conviction on the important issues as a public servant!

What might have been...

State Sen. Bill Branton has been a confusing candidate in the GOP Governor’s race. Many have been asking the question “why did he run for Governor?” His conspicuous absence at the recent GOP gubernatorial debate at Bob Jones University in Greenville and other important stump meetings in these final days of the campaign only perpetuates that notion. Nevertheless, his name will be on the ballot on June 11th. However, why didn’t he run for Lt. Governor instead? His experience as a state senator makes him a qualified candidate for that office. His extremely lackluster performance in this primary race for Governor makes you wonder what he was thinking when he decided to run!

What might have been...

You gotta love nuclear scientist Reb Sutherland’s tenacity in the Governor’s race. She has definitely provided the comic relief in this campaign, especially at the debates. Reb is always gonna be Reb, warts and all (no pun intended!). And she makes some good points at times. However, she is a bit too condescending to her audience to ever get elected as Governor. She reminds me a LOT of Hillary Clinton except on the opposite end of the political spectrum. Both are good at talking down their audiences as if their intellect is far superior to everyone else. Instead of running for Governor, the Republican Party would have been better served having her background in education as the nominee for Superintendent of Education. She may have lost seeking that office before, but Inez Tenenbaum wouldn’t have been able to handle Reb! Even though she comes across a little brash at times, Reb is an important voice in the South Carolina Republican Party today!

What might have been...

Widely considered the most likable candidate in the GOP Governor’s race, Secretary of State Jim Miles presents an intriguing dichotomy. He is well loved by the people who appreciate what he has done as Secretary of State, but he will not be getting the nomination for Governor. So what could Jim Miles put on his resume next? Can you imagine what would have happened if Jim Miles was recommended to become an ambassador for South Carolina or the United States? His personal charm would melt the hearts of foreign dignitaries who visit our state and nation. He would certainly have a lot of colorful stories to tell his eight grandchildren for many years to come!

What might have been...

Just last week on The Ralph Bristol Show on WORD radio in Greenville, 4 straight callers referred to him as "Sanders" (which is funny considering that is the name of the Democrat running against Lindsey Graham for the U.S. Senate!). This proves that former U.S. Congressman Mark Sanford is still a political unknown throughout most of the state, despite having amassed more money for his campaign than any of the other GOP candidates for Governor. However, since money does not guarantee success in a political campaign, he has been trying feverishly to get his name and message out to the voters. And his campaign has been picking up steam in the past few weeks. While I agree that he made the correct choice by running for Governor, wouldn’t it have been great to see Mark Sanford run against his old buddy in Congress, Lindsey Graham, for the open Senate seat vacated by Strom Thurmond instead? Sanford’s experience in Congress would have made that Republican primary race a close one! If Sanford does not receive the nomination for Governor this year, then look for him to run for the Republican nomination to oust Fritz Hollings from the U.S. Senate in 2004.

What might have been...

Widely regarded as the most recognized name in statewide politics in South Carolina, Attorney General Charlie Condon also has a legitimate right to be in the GOP Governor’s race. As Attorney General, he has won a lot of support across South Carolina by speaking out and defending the citizens against those who commit crimes and would cause harm to the state. At the same time, he has fielded his fair share of criticism for taking bold stands on various issues such as his strong stand against gun control, right to life and the NAACP boycott. Condon is a “love him” or “hate him” kind of candidate, which is why he has a good chance of winning the Republican nomination. However, like Sanford, it would have been great to see Charlie Condon take on Lindsey Graham for U.S. Senate. Regardless, if Condon does not capture the Republican nomination for Governor, then I look for him to go up against Sanford (if he does not win Governor) and probably Congressman Jim DeMint for the GOP nomination to unseat Hollings in 2004.

What might have been...

Long lauded as the frontrunner of the GOP race for Governor, Lt. Governor Bob Peeler has had the advantage of being second in command and the highest ranking Republican statewide officeholder since 1998. Although the Lt. Governor’s office is mostly a ceremonial role in state government, many voters view the person who holds that office as a logical top choice to become Governor. This explains Bob Peeler’s foundation for running for Governor. Nevertheless, although he was once considered an automatic winner in this race, Peeler’s lackluster charisma and constant indecision on the issues makes him vulnerable. He has an excellent chance of being in the runoff for the Republican nomination for Governor, but it will come down to a close vote between him, Condon and Sanford. The top two will face each other in a runoff on June 25th! However, if Peeler did not run for Governor, then what office would he have run for? Jim DeMint’s U.S. Congress seat in the 4th District? Maybe even Strom Thurmond’s open U.S. Senate seat? And if Peeler should lose this Governor’s race, can we expect to see him run against Sanford, Condon and/or DeMint for Hollings’ seat in 2004? Perhaps. Only time will tell.

What might have been...

Regardless of the outcome of this primary election and runoff, one thing is certain. Each of these candidates has left an indelible mark on the political landscape of South Carolina in 2002. They have all contributed to the debate of ideas and issues that the eventual Republican candidate will have to deal with. This will make the GOP nominee a much stronger candidate against Dick Harpootlian and Jim Hodges in November!

After the Republicans recapture the Governor's mansion in November, the Democrats will be scratching their heads wondering themselves what might have been...

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