Back in April, Columbia attorney Bill Connor issued a press release in which he welcomed Rock Hill developer Ralph Norman into the SC lieutenant governor’s race and said he looked “forward to running a hard but clean campaign.”
Apparently, Connor either has a short memory or a serious misunderstanding about what constitutes “clean.”
Over the past few months, he or his campaign have tried unsuccessfully to get covert competitive intelligence on a fellow candidate from a politically connected nonprofit, attempted to block a potential competitor from speaking at at least one county convention and attempted to smear other candidates by calling bloggers to let them know who hadn’t filed campaign disclosures.
Regarding the latter, blogger Earl Capps explains the antics of one Connor staffer:
While he was trying to convince me I should diss (Ken Ard and Ralph Norman ) for not getting their disclosures in, convincing me I should be a “campaign finance watchdog,” he forgot some disclosure of his own when he didn’t mention who he was working for, but since I knew who he was working for, his motives weren’t difficult to figure out.
I wasn’t really bothered by the lack of disclosure. Since it’s so early in the campaign, the candidates have spent little money. I doubted that they’re hiding a whole lot at this stage in the game.
However, I was trying to figure out what he was doing calling me at my office. NOBODY calls me at my work, nor have I invited anyone to call me there, and I certainly don’t need – or want – to drag politics into my workplace.
When I recently asked the candidate about this, he didn’t seem concerned that his campaign took the first negative shot of the campaign, nor that they tried to play me for a fool. In fact, he didn’t seem to understand why I would have a problem with what was done.
Hopefully, this isn’t a sign of things to come in the race for Lieutenant Governor, but if the mud is already being thrown a year out over things this petty, who knows what’s next?
With the primary still nearly a year away, one has to wonder what Connor is so worried about that he’s already reaching into his bag of dirty tricks? Is it that he realizes his campaign is built on a foundation of sand, or is he instead hiding some deep, dark secret? Perhaps it’s both.
Here are a few things one typically likes to see in a House Speaker: Leadership, consensus building and the ability to disseminate accurate information.
While the South Carolina Policy Council does a nice job here of picking apart the political half truths and outright misleading statements evident in Harrell’s release, there are also some curious mathematical miscues that left readers scratching their heads. Consider:
- The release claimed that “Through direct state appropriations and support of the CoEE program, South Carolina has invested $12,292,911 in hydrogen over the past 5 years. And by conservative estimates, this has spurred well over $115 million in non-state investments. That means our state is leveraging its hydrogen investment dollars at a rate of more than 10 to 1.”
Actually, even if the $115 million figure were correct, which seems highly unlikely, that’s a match of less than 10-to-1. There would have to be at least $122.9 million in non-state investments to equal a 10-to-1 match, never mind exceed it.
- “Since 2003, the number of unemployed people in our state has increased by more than 100%. This has taken our state from once having the 3rd best unemployment rate in the nation to now having the 3rd worst.”
Actually, since 2003, our unemployment has moved from 6.3 percent to 12.1 percent, which is about a 92 percent increase. High, yes, but not more than 100 percent. This, of course, is Harrell’s slam at Gov. Mark Sanford, who took office in 2003. Interestingly, the unemployment rate was the same when Harrell took over as House Speaker in June 2005 as when Sanford became governor. And, for the record, the last time South Carolina had the third-lowest unemployment rate in the country was in 1998, so that hardly seems applicable in this comparison.
- “The public/private investment in hydrogen has created 229 jobs in South Carolina. With 65% of those jobs being created in the last 5 years, this is proving to be a growing industry.”
While technically this counts as growth, consider that 65 percent of 229 is less than 150. That means over the past five years, fewer than 30 jobs annually have been created from the tens of millions in tax dollars that have been invested in hydrogen. To tout that as a growing industry is akin to calling someone the prettiest girl in a leper colony. Not exactly something to write home about.
Here’s a bit of advice for the speaker now that the session’s over: hire yourself somebody with some analytical skills and a calculator and have them give your work product a thorough review before it goes out. It’ll likely save you a little embarrassment.