Say Hello To The Woodshed, Mr. Merrill July 3, 2007Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.
S.C. MAJORITY LEADER ON THE ROPES AFTER STUNNING SPECIAL ELECTION DEFEAT
FITSNews – July 3, 2007 – We’d like to go ahead and state for the record that we think the world of Rep. Shirley Hinson. She’s one of the smartest, most consistent lawmakers in Columbia and while we don’t always agree with her, 99% of the time we can at least respect where she’s coming from. We also thought she would be a virtual lock to win the special election for S.C. Senate District 44, the seat vacated by the death of Sen. Bill Mescher.
That’s why we were so surprised to see how soundly Hinson was thrashed by former Alcoa executive Paul Campbell, who captured the GOP nod for Mescher’s seat with a resounding 65-35% victory in tonight’s special runoff election.
As bad as this defeat may be for Hinson, though, it’s even worse for her consultant – S.C. Majority Leader Jimmy Merrill. Without putting too fine a point on it, the man most responsible for framing and articulating the message of South Carolina’s so-called Republican majority got taken out to the woodshed and beaten like he stole something.
Merrill, who has been so squirrelly this year he might as well be starring in his own version of the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon, ran a perfectly atrocious race for Hinson. His message sucked. His mail sucked. And his grassroots and voter turnout sucked.
And as if his performance wasn’t pathetic enough already, Merrill’s forces stooped to a new low with a desperate, last-minute attack flyer that sought to make political hay out of the recent misfortunates of State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel.
Until that flyer went out, we were just embarrassed for Jimmy. Now we’re ashamed for him.
Merrill had a great candidate to work with – an attractive, intelligent, experienced State Representative who also happens to be Chief Majority Whip and a member of the powerful House Ways & Means committee.
How in the hell did he manage to screw all of that up against a guy running a cookie-cutter Rod Shealy campaign complete with the requisite B-grade mail pieces and unoriginal rhetoric du jour?
Technically, there was no incumbent in the open GOP primary for Senate District 44 but let’s be honest – this race was Hinson’s to lose, and Merrill flat out lost it for her.
When he should have been fighting for votes in the district, Merrill was fighting instead to settle insider scores in Columbia – leveraging the assets of the House Republican Caucus in an all-out blitzkrieg against Hinson enemies both real and imagined. And when he finally did start focusing on the race itself, he forgot to shed the insider political gamesmanship that landed his client’s campaign in such a hole to begin with.
Merrill’s performance no doubt sent lumps hurtling up and down the throats of several Republican House members currently relying on him to handle their races in what is shaping up to be one of most incumbent-unfriendly election year in American history.
It also punched a king-sized hole in the cocky, above-it-all persona that Merrill has relied on to rise to his current position in politics.
We keep hearing all kinds of rumors about Merrill – that his behavior toward his colleagues has been uncharacteristically evasive over the past six months, that he may not run for Majority Leader again, that he may be content to sit back and run political races out of his spacious new mansion on Daniel Island … etc.
Whatever the truth behind the rumors, Merrill’s stock took a huge hit tonight. How he responds to that hit will dictate not only his own political future, but also the fortunes of countless Republicans facing tough political sledding in 2008.