September 18, 2014

Club for Growth backs first-ever Democrat in SC race

Ginny Deerin

Ginny Deerin

A group which supports conservative economic ideas endorsed its first-ever Democrat for statewide office Wednesday.

The South Carolina Club for Growth’s endorsement of Secretary of State nominee Ginny Deerin over incumbent Republican Mark Hammond is significant for the conservative network. The group has only thrown its support behind two candidates in competitive statewide general election races this year (Gov. Nikki Haley is the other) and says its choice is as much a reprimand of Hammond as it is support for his challenger.

The Secretary of State’s Office in South Carolina is responsible for maintaining business records such as incorporations, trademarks, and notaries. It also monitors charities and municipal governments. The Secretary position is chosen by South Carolina voters every four years.

SC Club for Growth executive director Phillip Cease said the group’s board decided to back Deerin because Hammond has presided for 12 years over what the organization views as one of the state’s worst bureaucracies.

“Currently there are almost 150 forms (at the Secretary of State’s Office), only four of those can be filled out online,” Cease said Wednesday. “In 2014, that’s unacceptable.” He added that Hammond is also reimbursed by taxpayers for his roughly 180-mile commutes from his Spartanburg home to Columbia office.

Secretary of State Mark Hammond (Image: WCRS)

Secretary of State Mark Hammond (Image: WCRS)

Cease said that Deerin, a nonprofit management consultant, supported fee reductions, fewer regulations, and making the Secretary of State a position appointed by the governor rather than elected. The Charleston resident also pledged to move to Columbia if elected.

Deerin accepted the endorsement. “I am a Democrat and I have a long history of working with Democrats in this state for many years,” she said. “But, like most people in this state, I believe that we all like the idea of looking at solutions.”

She criticized the bureaucracy at the Secretary of State’s Office, saying “It’s like the DMV used to be.”

Hammond is still the overall favorite to win the race in conservative-leaning South Carolina. He easily cruised to reelection in 2010, beating his Democratic opponent by 22 percentage points.


Former SC governors push for civics portion of citizenship test in schools

Former Governor Dick Riley served as Education Secretary in President Clinton's administration

Former Governor Dick Riley served as Education Secretary in President Clinton’s administration

Three former South Carolina governors have joined an initiative that would encourage high school students to take the civics portion of a test required for immigrants seeking American citizenship.

Former Republican governor James Edwards, along with ex-Democratic governors Jim Hodges and Dick Riley announced their support for the South Carolina Civics Initiative in a Wednesday conference call. The call was intentionally scheduled on the 227th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution’s signing.

Riley said civics education merits more attention than it’s currently receiving in schools. “This idea of civics education is so important for American students, all of them, to know the very basics,” the initiative’s co-chair said in the conference call. “I think it’s important to the country and it’s important to our country’s future.”

The group cited an Annenberg Public Policy Center study which found only one-third of Americans could name one of their government’s three branches.

“Understanding basic civics and how our government works needs to be a priority,” said Columbia restaurateur Bill Dukes, also a state co-chair. “Civic education will enable us to sustain our constitutional democracy.  Our citizens must be informed and responsible.  Our free and open society cannot succeed if our citizens don’t understand the fundamental values and principles of democracy.”

The Civics Education Initiative is asking state lawmakers to consider having students take the test, but not requiring it for graduation. Students could get extra credit on their GPA for a good score, according to a release from the group.

Sabb takes advantage of increased turnout, wins Pee Dee Senate race

State Rep. Ronnie Sabb, D-Kingstree

State Rep. Ronnie Sabb, D-Kingstree

Voters in the Pee Dee on Tuesday decided to promote State Rep. Ronnie Sabb, D-Greeleyville, sending the second-term South Carolina House member to the state Senate.

Sabb took 58.7 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s Democratic runoff election for Senate District 32, eclipsing Kingstree attorney Sam Floyd’s 41.3 percent.

District 32 centers around Williamsburg County, but also includes western Georgetown County and slivers of Florence, Berkeley, and Horry counties.

The seat was held for 22 years by State Sen. Yancey McGill before McGill resigned to become lieutenant governor earlier this summer. Since no Republicans have entered the race, the winner of the Democratic primary will almost certainly take the seat in November.

Sam Floyd (Image:

Sam Floyd (Image:

It was a come-from-behind victory for Sabb. The Williamsurg County attorney had more than 1,100 fewer votes than Floyd in the initial September 2 Democratic primary. But he took advantage of higher turnout from two weeks ago, going from 3,485 total votes in the primary to 9,639 in Tuesday’s runoff. Floyd’s total votes also increased, but not nearly as much.

Sabb, a former assistant solicitor and general counsel at Santee Cooper power utility, has served in the House for 4 years.

His victory means another special election is now required for Sabb’s seat in the House. Elections officials say that special election will likely occur in early 2015.

“Welcome to Moe’s!” Christie makes campaign stop at Charleston restaurant

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Gov. Nikki Haley stopped at a Moe's Southwest Grill in Charleston Tuesday

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Gov. Nikki Haley stopped at a Moe’s Southwest Grill in Charleston Tuesday

A Moe’s Southwest Grill in downtown Charleston was briefly the focal point of South Carolina politics Tuesday afternoon, as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made a campaign stop during a whirlwind Carolina tour.

Christie was officially campaigning with Gov. Nikki Haley, who is seeking a second term in November. But the attention was on the northeast Republican and whether or not his trip to the Southeast is laying the groundwork for a future presidential run in 2016. Many Republicans had asked him to seek the office in 2012, but Christie instead decided to finish the rest of his first term as governor.

Christie himself was mum on any presidential plans, but his South Carolina itinerary on Tuesday also included a pair of fundraisers with Haley in Charleston and another on Kiawah Island. It’s part of several national appearances for the chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association this week. He had been in North Carolina on Tuesday morning campaigning for a Senate candidate there. He will travel to New Hampshire on Wednesday for appearances with a pair of GOP candidates.

“I’ll be out of state for, I think it’s 29 of the next 49 days,” he told reporters at Moe’s. “So I’ll be pretty busy.”

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State officials seek exemption from healthy school snacks requirements


USDA guidelines show which snacks are allowed and which are not under "Smart Snacks in School" regulations (Image: USDA)

USDA guidelines show which snacks are allowed and which are not under “Smart Snacks in School” regulations (Image: USDA)

State education officials say they are now taking steps to ease new federal regulations which bar snacks considered unhealthy from being sold on public school campuses.

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 was pitched as a way to serve healthier school meals to students, especially low-income children, in an attempt to reduce obesity rates. New nutrition regulations that took effect in July bar any sales of snacks that have more than 200 calories or 230 milligrams of sodium.

But many student and parent organizations were upset with the US Department of Agriculture language that effectively prevents them from selling popular snacks as fundraisers, such as donuts in the morning carpool line or cookies during lunch.

“It is very difficult to find anything that anybody will buy that’s in compliance with the law,” Richland School District Two executive director of operations Jack Carter said, adding that the no-snacks rule covers any period of the day from midnight until 30 minutes after class dismissal.

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