Runoffs to turn tide in GOP civil war

Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

It all comes down to today, on which the Republican primary runoffs for certain General Assembly seats will make the final designation as to if Gov. Mark Sanford and his friends won a marginal victory or suffered a marginal defeat.

The main event, to be sure, is the battle between Sen. Jake Knotts and former Lexington County GOP chairman Katrina Shealy. Sure, Shealy’s been backed by New York real estate magnate Howard Rich (SCRG, et. al.) and Sanford’s wealthy Lowcountry pals (S.C. Club for Growth, Carolinians for Change), and that’s given her a lot of momentum. However, Knotts has a good enough record among his constituents that it shouldn’t have gone this far.

The blame has to lay at the feet of his consultant, Rod Shealy, who managed to properly piss away Sen. Catherine Ceips’ chances against Tom Davis, and did such a horrible job with Rep. Carl Gullick that he only beat what amounted to a straw man by four points.

The truth is, though, Lexington County (outside of the nouveau-riche suburbs) doesn’t like Sanford or his people. And, who is more motivated to turn out – the irritated redneck, or the Michelob-drinking, polo-wearing, country club-attending faux bubba? The smart money is on Knotts’ people to turn out, allowing Jake to spank Sanford’s ass for another couple years.

Of the four undercard battles (Dee Compton v. Chip Stockman notwithstanding), the most interesting is Rep. Scott Talley v. Lee Bright in Senate 12. What makes it interesting is that Talley’s a smart guy, a fiscal conservative and a principled man, Bright’s an utter moron, and it’s still as close as it is. The only reason Bright can overcome his complete incompetence is that he’s running with the full faith and credit of Club for Growth and Sanford.

Talley’s consultants, First Tuesday, have an undefeated record against Club/Sanford candidates this cycle, while Bright’s people, the Quinns, have managed a so-so record on June 10. One thing is for certain, though – there are enough incompetents at the State House without adding Bright to the mix.

In another First Tuesday-Quinns faceoff, Tom Young is taking on Scott Singer in Aiken. Young should take this one, even with Singer being a signatory to the “hit list” proposal‘s “Contract for Change.” Young had a healthy lead in the first round of voting, so getting 50+1 shouldn’t be so hard.

In House 79, we’ll see if the GOP will be able to retain Rep. Bill Cotty’s seat. David Herndon, the moderate, stands the best chance at keeping the district Republican during a brutal general election effort against Democrat Anton Gunn. Sheri Few, who tried to take out Cotty the last time, not so much.

If Few is able to defeat Herndon, more than a few (no pun intended) Republicans in Columbia’s northeast will be helping Gunn’s effort, helping to tip the balance to the Democrat. There’s a real disconnect up there between your average Republican and the stone-cold crazies that back Few’s campaign. This one shapes up as a Rod Shealy, Jr.-Starboard Communications battle. And, much like Bright, we don’t need another wingnut downtown every six months.

As for Senate 13, that one’s over. Shane Martin, “the quiet man,” let Max Hyde whup up on Sen. Jim Ritchie, then stuck to the high road with his NASCAR events and NASCAR money. And, because of Ritchie’s mismanagement of his ambition for higher office, he’s going to get nailed today.

Our State Senate Runoff picks: Knotts, Martin, and a Toss-up [The Blogland of Earl Capps]
Runoff: Few and Herndon vie to face Democrat Gunn [The State]
Voters return to polls; Knotts, Shealy respond to each other’s attacks [WIS]
Runoff: Knotts, Shealy in heated rematch [The State]
NOW DeMint’s making things LESS clear [Brad Warthen’s Blog]
Young pushes job growth, education [The Augusta Chronicle]


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