October 22, 2014

Haley spends Greenville debate on defensive

Gov. Nikki Haley (File)

Gov. Nikki Haley (File)

The gloves came off at some points in Tuesday night’s debate among the five candidates hoping to be elected governor next month.

Incumbent Republican Gov. Nikki Haley found herself fending off verbal attacks from her challengers as questions moved away from what her campaign considers her strongest issue — the economy — and instead towards education, domestic violence, and Medicaid funding. The event at Furman University near Greenville was the last debate in the governor’s race before voters head to the polls in two weeks.

The debate also had a heightened intensity for the governor’s opponents, as a recent Charleston Post & Courier poll found Haley holds a 20-point lead over Democratic State Sen. Vincent Sheheen in the polls (51% to 31%). Independent petition candidate Tom Ervin was third in the survey with 11 percent support, while Libertarian nominee Steve French and the United Citizens Party’s Morgan Bruce Reeves were within the margin of error. Haley defeated Sheheen with 51 percent of the vote to 47 percent in the 2010 election. [Read more...]

Bipartisanship? SCGOP, Democratic leaders say SC should appoint military chief

SC Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison speaks in support of the change during a press conference at the Statehouse's veterans monument

SC Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison speaks in support of the change during a press conference at the Statehouse’s veterans monument

In a rare moment of bipartisanship just two weeks before Election Day, the chairmen of South Carolina’s Democratic and Republican parties announced a joint campaign that will ask voters to end South Carolina’s status as the only state that still elects its military chief by popular vote.

A state constitutional amendment on the ballot this November asks voters whether the governor should instead appoint South Carolina’s adjutant general position, and sets qualifications for the job. The Adjutant General oversees the South Carolina National Guard, Air National Guard, and State Guard, as well as the state Emergency Management Division.

SC Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison and his SCGOP counterpart Matt Moore announced a new media campaign to urge voters to support Amendment 2. Joining them in that call is the man who currently holds the Adjutant General’s post Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston. Livingston said he believes the “Vote Yes” campaign is needed because many voters do not know what an adjutant general even does. [Read more...]

Candidates for SC education chief agree on most topics, except Common Core

Molly Spearman

Molly Spearman (Image: SCETV)

Two of the candidates running for South Carolina’s next schools chief agreed on more than they disagreed during a televised debate Monday.

Republican candidate Molly Spearman and her Democratic opponent Tom Thompson met for 30 minutes in the education superintendent’s debate on SCETV. American Party nominee Ed Murray was not invited because he did not meet the debate criteria. All three are vying to replace current superintendent Mick Zais, who did not seek reelection this year.

The candidates agreed that South Carolina’s current education funding formula needs to change. Spearman, the executive director of the South Carolina Association of School Administrators, said the state’s current formula dates back to an era when each town had its own textile mill. “That no longer exists, so for the past almost 50 years now we have been patching the formula,” she said. “And it has gotten so complex and so divided, there’s so many strings of funding, that few people understand it.”

Thompson, a former South Carolina State University education dean who is now a consultant, said the problem is the mindset of state leaders who have allowed “minimally adequate” to become synonymous with education funding. “The superintendent may have to bring public pressure to convince the legislature that the needs of the children, the needs of the public education system, should be a priority for the state,” he said.

[Read more...]

Sheheen: Ban contributions from companies getting state incentives

State Sen. Vincent Sheheen

State Sen. Vincent Sheheen

Democratic candidate for governor State Sen. Vincent Sheheen on Monday called for prohibiting businesses that receive tax incentives or economic development grants from donating to a candidate who helped them secure those incentives. Sheheen also attacked his opponent, incumbent Gov. Nikki Haley, saying such donations the Republican has accepted are part of a “rampant” “pay-to-play” culture.

Sheheen’s comments came a few days after bicycle manufacturer Kent International held a groundbreaking for a new assembly facility in Manning. The company said it plans to eventually hire more than 200 employees at the plant. Later that same day, Haley’s campaign released a television ad that featured Kent’s CEO Arnold Kamler saying his company “worked with Governor Haley and we found South Carolina was the best place for us.” The State newspaper also found that Kent International had contributed $2,500 to Haley’s campaign in June.

Sheheen was furious. “There is no level of pay-to-play that’s worse than that,” he told reporters during a Monday news conference. “You can’t sink any lower.”

The Kershaw legislator said he will seek to change state law to prohibit companies, or their owners and principals, from donating to a state official who had helped secure grant funding or tax breaks for them.

[Read more...]

Scott, Gowdy join growing number of Republicans calling for West Africa travel ban

U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (File)

U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (File)

A growing number of Republicans in Washington, including at least three from South Carolina, are calling for a temporary travel ban from western Africa in response to the Ebola outbreak that has killed thousands there.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott was the latest to do so on Friday, releasing a statement on his website. “It is clear that a temporary travel ban for foreign nationals traveling from Ebola-stricken nations in West Africa should be put in place,” he said. “The President has the authority to do so, and we have seen that airport screenings and self-reporting simply are not enough.”

Scott joined South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy in calling for a travel ban. Fellow Congressman Jeff Duncan on Thursday also signed a letter from the House Committee on Homeland Security asking President Obama to suspend travel visas for individuals traveling from Ebola-stricken nations.

Gowdy and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlette signed a letter to the White House making a similar request that the President bar foreign nationals recently in Ebola-ravaged nations from coming to the U.S.

Gowdy said he still supports sending aid and health care workers to afflicted nations, but believes the country is not doing enough to prevent the virus from reaching U.S. shores. “If you know that a disease was, at one point, concentrated in an area, why can you not restrict ingress and egress from that area particularly to the United States and also send your experts to Western Africa to help them contain it?,” he said in an interview with South Carolina Radio Network. “Those two are not mutually exclusive.”

President Obama said Thursday he has no “philosophical objection,” to a travel ban, but believes it would be less effective than the current policy of having airport employees screen each passenger from the region. But he expressed concerns that some travelers may try sneaking into the U.S. through other means to get around the ban, meaning they would not be screened upon their arrival in the States.

But Gowdy disputed that, saying a traveler would still need to rely on their passport, which would show they had been in West Africa. “You are trusting that people who work in airports can read temperature gauges,” he said. “There are lots of really good folks who work at airports. I doubt very seriously you’re going to go see them for your health concerns.”

To this point, a handful of Americans have become infected with Ebola while in Africa. However, only two have become infected inside the U.S. itself — both were nurses treating a man who had recently traveled back to Texas from Liberia.