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S.C. Party-Switching Rumors Swirl June 27, 2007

Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.

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FITSNews – June 27, 2007 – Three former Democratic Senators would leave the Republican Party and switch back to their original party affiliation if Democrats can pick up a special election win in Berkeley County this year – or if State Sen. John Courson runs for Treasurer and a Democrat is able to pick up his vacated seat – sources tell FITSNews. Combined with a Democratic win in a special election, the rumored defections by Senators Hugh Leatherman, Billy O’Dell and Luke Rankin would give the Democrats control of the State Senate for the first time since 2001.

In exchange for delivering the Senate to the Democratic Party (as if they didn’t run it already), Leatherman would retain his position as Senate Finance Chairman while Rankin would become Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which is currently chaired by Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell. No information was available on what Sen. O’Dell was supposed to receive for agreeing to switch back to the party he left six years ago.

Senators in both parties confirmed to FITSNews that there was substance to the rumors, which were first reported to us by a well-placed Columbia lobbyist.

“You’ve heard that rumor, too?” asked one State Senator who spoke with us on the condition of anonymity. “Well it’s not a rumor. They’re just waiting (to win) one special election and it’s on.”

The ringleader of the effort is reportedly Leatherman, a Democrat who switched labels and joined the Republican Party in 1996. Sources say the diminuitive Senate Finance Chairman fears that Republican Gov. Mark Sanford and conservative groups are targeting him in a GOP primary, and that his path to reelection is much safer as a Democrat.

Rankin, who switched to the GOP in 2004 after a decade as a Democrat, is reportedly confident that his promised leadership position would provide a fundraising base sufficient to stave off a GOP challenge in his increasingly Republican district.

That leaves O’Dell’s motivations as the wild card.

“Billy’s the big mystery,” said one State House insider familiar with the defection rumors. “The other guys make sense, but what’s in it for Billy? And is it enough to get him reelected?”

Developing …



1. Silence Dogood - June 27, 2007

Hmmmm…FITS you have me intrigued for a change (usually just entertained) – these rumors may have legs in the same way that urban legends to, because they are fun to believe more so they the fact that they likely or credible.

Keep in mind there are a LOT of “if’s” in this scenario and the switching Senators would be betting EVERYTHING on their seats being deciding factor, and dems retaining EVERY seat which they currently hold now in the fast approaching 2008 elections (dems have some shaking ground with one of the Senator retiring from a district that is by no means a sure thing for another dem) and some dem Senators that one close races in 2004 not assured to win or necessarily even run again (Elliot for instance?). That’s betting the whole farm on a very unsure thing esp. only receiving one legislative session next year in this position with assuredness and a most definite and extreme retribution on the part of the GOP should they take by the Senate in ’08 which is a strong possibility under your hypothetical. Mind you also T-Rav could be out at his “ocean front property in Arizona” or otherwise without resigning beyond the next legislative session not allowing for a treasurer election and this plan seems to hinge solely on Courson’s departure from the Senate.

If I didn’t know any better I might be inclined to believe that this post was really just a conspiracy theory to lampoon a Courson treasury candidacy? But since it is so fun to believe I am going to have to at least consider it. Thanks for spiking my curiosity enough to keep me from needing a second cup of joe prior to lunch.

2. Doubting - June 27, 2007

Probably brought to us by the same sources who came up with the story about the mythical elected official with a Strom Problem, no doubt.

3. Earl Capps - June 27, 2007

That’s a lot of “ifs” there for me. Someone must be dreaming big.

I couldn’t see the Senate 44 seat going Dem in even the worst of circumstances, but Courson’s seat … maybe, but not likely … if it was open.

… again, we get into “ifs” … and such things are the realm of lottery ticket holders and guys staring at blondes at the end of the bar. But few of those ifs become reality.

Besides, if someone switches twice, isn’t that going to turn off some of their voters, especially the large GOP voter bases in those districts? I can’t imagine that one or two of them wouldn’t pay for such a move in the next election.

Not even if the SCGOP turned the whole operation over to Dennis Hastert, the “majority breaker”, could the Democrats get the right chain of events that could lead to such a deal.

4. G.L. - June 27, 2007

I can believe Rankin and Leatherman, but if O’dell switches, there is no way he will win re-election. His district is mostly Anderson County although he doesn’t pay us any attention, and there are many residents that will not vote for a Democrat. The only reason he still has his seat is because of his party label.

5. G.L. - June 27, 2007

Also, who would be Pro-Tem under this situation? Drummond would be the obvious chocie, but he is retiring after this term, so the next in line would be Land (or Leatherman). Either way, the taxpayers might as well go ahead and give their billfolds to the state.

6. Doubting - June 27, 2007

They are not switching parties. Will’s probably smoking something he rolled himself (like turnip greens?) or snorting toothpaste.

7. Top Posts « WordPress.com - June 27, 2007

[…] S.C. Party-Switching Rumors Swirl [image] CONTROL OF STATE SENATE COULD SWITCH TO THE DEMOCRATS FITSNews – June 27, 2007 – Three former Democratic […] […]

8. Sally - June 28, 2007

Luke Rankin has not got the back bone to admit he is a Democrat. The forces are mobilizing to expose his many issues. Republicans for anybody but Luke are standing ready to send him back to selling vacums. It has been said that the legislature is full of snakes, Luke does not fall in that catagory, he is a worm.

9. Terri - June 28, 2007

The leadership of Mark Sanford is killing the party. Sanford plays the general assembly in such a way as to make them look silly…and he to look like a tax cutting maverick looking out for the working man!

What a joke…he cares about one thing and one thing only…Mark Sanford. And the rest of us can go to hell.

There is no metric that can be applied to the tenure of Mark Sanford that makes him a success…except for the one that he cares about…his personal poll numbers.

10. Carolina Observer - July 1, 2007

luke is actually a lawyer and not a vaccum salesman, but as nice as all this may seem, I think with Drummond’s retirement, that seat is trending to the R’s, so why on earth would you switch for just a year??? makes NO sense, unless you could gurantee a 4 yr majority at minimum. just don’t see that happening. they can just continue to make it uncomfortable though…which is fun to watch. Sanford can’t get a majority in the Senate on anything and his party has 20+ vote majority in the house and he has a hard time getting 50 % + 1.. leadership is an issue

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