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10 Reasons Why Charlie Condon Lost
Jimmy Moore
June 12, 2002

The primary election is finally over after months of vigorous campaigning. The dust has settled in the GOP Governorís race with Lt. Governor Bob Peeler and former U.S. Congressman Mark Sanford still left standing of the seven contenders. Those two men will face each other on June 25th in a runoff for the right to face Gov. Jim Hodges in November.

For the past six months, it was a well-known fact on this website that I was a huge Charlie Condon supporter. I did not try to conceal my admitted bias unlike some other sources of information supplied on Commonvoice.com. If I had to do it all over again, I would have still supported Charlie Condon in the Governorís race. He was the only candidate I could get behind without any reservations. He would have made an incredible Governor!

However, since Charlie Condon came up short in his bid to become Governor, I would like to offer some concrete reasons why I think his candidacy failed. I know some of you will think this is my attempt at rationalizing Condonís loss, but even the most cynical will admit that all of the following contributed in some small way to what Brian McCarty calls in his article "What Happened?" (http://www.schotline.com/brian0612.htm) the ďself destructionĒ of the Condon campaign.


1. Attack ads from an unknown third party organization

I hope Peter Foster and his group Citizens For An Independent Society are jumping for joy today, whoever they are. This Virginia-based group ran a series of negative radio ads as well as a postcard mailing in the midst of this campaign in an attempt to spread misinformation about Charlie Condonís property tax plan. Finding out who was exactly was behind the funding of this group is still a mystery. Undoubtedly, their efforts to taint Charlie Condon had an effect on some voters.

2. Lack of leadership and communication at the grassroots level

As a volunteer for the Condon campaign, I was frustrated with the lack of any leadership or communication about what the strategy should be about trying to win the race. I ended up doing my own thing most of the time since I was not given any directions from the campaign. I talked to some other volunteers who were in the same situation. What I found was that there was a lot of us doing duplicate work. This was counterproductive to making the most of the time we had. I marveled at the professional nature of the Peeler campaign in terms of grassroots organization. They were out in force at EVERY event. The Condon campaign was not.

3. The media loathes him and wrote about it

Name me one media outlet in South Carolina that has something good to say about Charlie Condon. What? Having trouble thinking of ONE (just ONE!!!)? After scouring through hundreds of newspaper articles on a daily basis for the past six months, I quickly came to the obvious conclusion that the media absolutely hates Charlie Condon. And they let their readers know about it, too. I donít know if they just canít stand someone who takes such strong positions on the issues or if they just donít like the way he looks, there is a universal distaste for Charlie Condon on the radio, television and in newspapers. With the enormous influence the media has on people, I am amazed that Charlie Condon got any votes at all!

4. Distortion of his property tax elimination plan

Since January of this year when he first announced he wanted to make the elimination of property taxes the central issue in his campaign, the details of Charlie Condonís plan have been distorted and misrepresented by the other candidates, the media and pundits. If I didnít know the details of the plan myself, then I probably would have been a confused voter, too! However, with around 40 town hall meetings across South Carolina, Charlie Condon explained in detail his property tax elimination plan using a Powerpoint presentation. It was all there for people to see and ask questions. However, since most voters did not attend these meetings, the information they had about the property tax elimination plan was what the read and heard about from the media. See #3!

5. Relied too much on the property tax issue

As strong as the issue of ending property taxes was for the campaign, it should not have been the ONLY issue. And in reality it wasnít! Charlie Condon laid out plans to help the textile industry, improve education, provide affordable healthcare and more. Yet the perception was that Charlie Condonís answer to every issue was ďend all property taxes.Ē It was an effective strategy early on to attract voters to support his campaign, but other important issues should have been expanded upon with more direct answers. A one-issue-oriented-candidate rarely wins!

6. The details of his property tax elimination plan were never widely distributed

Charlie Condonís property tax elimination plan originally released in January should have been made available on the Internet immediately. As the plan grew in popularity across the state, voters wanted to know more about it. Unfortunately, it was nowhere to be found. The fear from the campaign was that Condonís opponents might attack it if it was available for the whole world to see. They did anyway!

7. Ken Wingate

The chief attacker of the Condon tax plan was Ken Wingate. This political unknown was running an extremely quiet campaign until the very last question of the debate at Furman University in Greenville. Wingate got in the first low blow of the campaign when he said that ďCharlie ought to sue himself for the fraud he is perpetrating on the citizens of South Carolina!Ē From that point on, the gloves were off as Wingate made it his role in this race to debunk Charlie Condonís property tax elimination plan. He even went so far as to debate a cardboard cutout of Condon. This circus sideshow must have swayed some voters who would have gone with Charlie Condon to vote for Ken Wingate, who came in a surprising fourth place in this race at 8%.

8. Money

If this race taught me nothing else, I learned that money is a key element to winning an election. I already knew that money was an important resource for getting your message out to the voters. But, it is amazing how exposure can be bought, though! Mark Sanfordís daily barrage of radio and television ads helped him grow in popularity over the past few months and especially in the past few weeks. Charlie Condonís campaign was unable to keep up!

9. Underestimated Mark Sanford

Everyone agrees that Mark Sanford was the surprise of this election. Six months ago, nobody had even heard of him outside of the Lowcountry. Yet he was able to not only make it into the runoff, but LEAD everyone else! That is a major accomplishment that can be attributed to the likability of Sanford and his issues-oriented campaign. Sanford comes across as a sincere guy who chooses not to attack other candidates as a means to promote himself. In the end, that strategy worked for Sanford as the Condon campaign (and even the Peeler campaign!) underestimated his strength!

10. He ran out of gas at the end

Towards the end of the campaign, there were events taking place by nearly all of the candidates as they blitzed the state in a final attempt to meet the voters. As I was reading the itineraries of the gubernatorial candidates in The State newspaper in the past few days, I couldnít help but scratch my head wondering why Charlie Condon wasnít actively out campaigning and shaking hands with the voters. Peeler, Sanford and Wingate were out in force in the final few days. I think Charlie Condon just ran out of gas physically and emotionally. He is only human.

I want to make it clear that I am not trying to take anything away from Bob Peeler or Mark Sanford. They made it into the runoff fair and square. However, what I have outlined in this article are reasons why I think that Charlie Condon was not more competitive in the race for Governor. Acting on most of these points would have at least made his candidacy for Governor more viable.

Coulda woulda shoulda...but didnít!

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