Meet Your Statewide Candidates
July 3, 2002
The Republican and Democratic candidates for the major South Carolina statewide races are now in place for a general election battle set for November 5, 2002. In approximately four months from now, the voters of South Carolina will be making their choices for Governor, U.S. Senate, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State.
With so much attention on the Republican candidates for these offices over the past six months, most people are not aware of who the Democratic candidates are. Because of this, I have outlined a brief thumbnail sketch of each of the Republican and Democratic candidates. Additionally, I have also provided a link to the campaign websites of the candidates where applicable. I will go into more detail about each of these races over the coming months. Be looking for a new series of articles on the 2002 general election entitled COMMONCHOICE 2002 beginning soon on Commonvoice.com.
While most of the electorate will only BEGIN to think about this vital election around Halloween, it is important that you take the lead now and educate yourself thoroughly about each of these candidates so you can be an informed voter. Because Commonvoice.com readers are already more educated and aware of the issues and the candidates than most people, it is our duty to help spread the word to our non-political friends and family.
Mark Sanford (R)
After his landslide victory in the Republican runoff on June 25th, Republican gubernatorial nominee Mark Sanford’s conservative message of less government and lower taxes makes him a formidable challenger to incumbent Democrat Jim Hodges. Sanford has been nationally recognized for his accomplishments on behalf of taxpayers as a self-imposed three-term U.S. Congressman from South Carolina’s 1st District. He believes in the right to life, has a plan to improve education by offering more choices and wants to eliminate the state income tax. For more information on his campaign, visit his website at http://www.sanfordforgovernor.com.
Jim Hodges (D)
Gov. Jim Hodges is in trouble and he knows it. His approval ratings have been abysmal because he has done nothing substantive for improving the state as Governor of South Carolina. He has already begun trying to make himself look more conservative by promoting issues such as prayer in schools. However, look for him to also push his two major “accomplishments” throughout this campaign: the lottery and education. The $5 million he has accumulated in his campaign coffers will provide him with plenty of resources to blast this message across the state. Nevertheless, with Mark Sanford shoring up his support in the Lowcountry, strong voter turnout in the Upstate will help Republicans capture the Governor’s mansion in November. Do you need a great laugh? Just take a look at the Jim Hodges for Governor website at http://www.jimhodges.com! ROTFL!
Lindsey Graham (R)
Long expected to be the heir apparent to legendary South Carolina U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond, Lindsey Graham is touting his eight years of experience in South Carolina's 3rd Congressional District of the U.S. House of Representatives. His conservative positions on issues like the national defense, education, social security, lowering taxes, balancing the budget, prescription drugs, defending life and promoting affordable healthcare make him an attractive candidate to continue the work of Strom Thurmond. However, his campaign faces two major challenges: a likable Democratic opponent and disappointed Republican activists in the Upstate, who are still smarting from Graham’s involvement in the GOP Governor’s race. Multiple visits this year from President Bush and Vice-President Cheney underline how important keeping this U.S. Senate seat in the Republican Party is to the Bush administration and his agenda. Visit http://www.LindseyGraham.com for more information on his campaign.
Alex Sanders (D)
Alex Sanders is a personable fellow who has most recently been the President of the College of Charleston. He will undoubtedly be running as a staunch advocate of public schools and education reform. On fiscal issues, Sanders seems to be relatively conservative (at least that’s how he is trying to portray himself in his political TV ads with that card he is carrying around in his pocket!). However, Sanders is eerily silent about his beliefs on important social issues that are valued by conservative voters in South Carolina. Visit his website at http://www.sanders2002.com to see what I mean about his lack of substance on social issues.
Andre Bauer (R)
As the candidate who prevailed in the closest statewide race of the GOP primary, Andre Bauer is geared up for a festive general election campaign. His main idea for improving the Lt. Governor’s office is to make it a customer service-oriented office where constituents can communicate with him regarding anything that concerns them about their government. Bauer wants to continue the six years of work he has done as a state representative and state senator for South Carolina, focusing on important issues such as education, lowering taxes, being tough on crime and economic development. He has vowed to run a positive campaign focusing on his accomplishments and experience. Visit http://www.andrebauer.com to learn more about his campaign.
Phil Levintis (D)
Political experts think that Phil Levintis is going to be a tough opponent against Andre Bauer. Levintis is a state senator as well as a retired general with the South Carolina Air National Guard. You should know that Gov. Hodges has fully endorsed his candidacy. That alone should put the nail in the coffin of his campaign! :-) Yet, Levintis' willingness to embrace liberal ideas on the environment and increased funding for education make him distinguishable enough to voters. See how very little information he provides about the issues at his website at http://www.philleventis.com.
Henry McMaster (R)
Pulling out a resounding victory in the Republican primary for state Attorney General after only entering the race in late April, Henry McMaster will continue to build momentum across the state through his strong GOP support base. As the chairman of the state Republican party for most of the past decade, he has multiple contacts in all 46 counties who are ready to help him get elected as the top law enforcement officer in the state! His experience as the first U.S. Attorney appointed by Ronald Reagan and his platform to go after child predators on the Internet will be an attractive draw to his campaign by South Carolina voters, regardless of their political identification. He does not have an Internet website at this time (although http://www.mcmaster4agsc.com and http://www.ibackhenrymac.com are currently available!).
Steven Benjamin (D)
This young, African-American candidate for Attorney General was appointed by Gov. Hodges as the chief of the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services in 1999 through 2001. He is currently a practicing attorney in Columbia as well as an assistant prosecutor in South Carolina's 4th Judicial Circuit. Because of his background in law enforcement and the legal system, Benjamin’s platform revolves around taking a more proactive role in fighting crime. The Democrats will do their best to paint the GOP opponent as an opportunist politician in an effort to make Benjamin look more attractive to moderate and disenchanted Republican voters. Find out more about Steven Benjamin at http://www.stevebenjamin.com.
SECRETARY OF STATE
Mark Hammond (R)
Spartanburg County’s very own Mark Hammond pulled out a surprising win over the heavily favored Ed McMullen in the Secretary of State’s race. Despite his lack of statewide name recognition, Hammond’s variety of past experiences as a probation officer, criminal investigator and clerk of court combined with his low-key campaign style propelled him to the top of the Republican candidates. He is counting on the support of Spartanburg County and other Upstate counties to once again help him win in November. He wants to make the Secretary of State’s office an efficient use of taxpayer dollars with a focus on quality service to the citizens of the state. His website is located at http://www.electhammond.com.
Rick Wade (D)
Like Steven Benjamin in the Attorney General's race, Rick Wade is another young, African-American Democrat candidate running for statewide office. He was the chief of staff for former South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Nick Theodore. He has served on several committees in various capacities at the local, state and national levels of government. He recently resigned his position as the director of the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services amid an investigation of his agency by SLED. Wade’s platform includes attracting more businesses to South Carolina. His website can be found on the Internet at http://www.wade4secstate.org.