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.
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.