Aiken For Change? October 3, 2007Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.
ASSESSING SANFORD’S “THIRD CAMPAIGN” AFTER ITS FIRST SO-CALLED SKIRMISH
FITSNews – October 3, 2007 – If you believe the press release that came out of Gov. Mark Sanford‘s office late yesterday evening, you’d think newly-minted GOP State Senate nominee Shane Massey was the greatest thing since sliced bread:
When you look at what Shane ran on – the ideas of lower taxes, controlling government spending, a better business environment and a more accountable government structure – I think what this vote really boils down to is a continuation of a mandate for change in Columbia. Shane ran on an unabashedly pro-reform platform, something that there’s a clear need for in state government.
In case you missed yesterday’s SCGOP special election in Aiken County, Massey crushed Democrat-in-hiding Bill Hixon 63%-37% in what many viewed as the first battle in a coming war for the heart and soul of the South Carolina Republican Party.
But is that what this little “GOP” scuffle in Aiken was really all about?
For the record, we’ve never met Shane Massey. All we know about the guy is that his campaign benefited tremendously from the support of conservative groups like S.C. Club for Growth and South Carolinians for Responsible Government, both folks who generally endorse candidates with views very similar to our own.
Except that’s really not all we know about him.
As it turns out, Massey’s campaign was managed by notorious RINO-herder Warren Tompkins, who basically represents the rotten core of the GOP apple up at the S.C. State House. Tompkins’ clients have a demonstrated history of campaigning on lower taxes and less spending, only to reverse those positions faster than a Mitt Romney flip-flop once they assume office.
Tompkins has also openly referred to one of the groups that got his client across the finish line yesterday as a “scourge,” although obviously not anywhere within earshot of Aiken over the last couple of weeks.
Of course, the alternative to Massey was a guy who went around calling himself a “Reagan Republican” despite the fact that he was serving as state treasurer for a Democratic gubernatorial campaign just eleven months ago.
So yeah, looks like the “could-be RINO we don’t know” beat the “RINO we did know” … not exactly an inspiring state of affairs if you ask us.
And then there’s the “Sanford factor,” which everybody associated with this campaign says was a complete “non-factor.”
Sanford had mulled getting involved in the race on Massey’s side, but his consultant Jon Lerner and GOP Chairman Katon Dawson are said to have nixed the idea, arguing that the governor’s involvement wouldn’t help him beat Hixon.
As a result, there was no gubernatorial endorsement – and none of the dollars that come with it.
Massey won anyway, though, and he may well win in November and emerge as a huge Sanford ally in the State Senate, but it won’t be because he owes the governor anything.
Sanford’s relationship with some of his closest ideological allies might have also taken a hit as a result of his reticence to get involved in this race, as one extremely influential conservative activist told FITSNews they “blew a gasket” after being forwarded a copy of the governor’s statement congratulating Massey yesterday.
“Why the hell didn’t he say all this when it mattered – before the votes were cast?” they thundered.
We can certainly respect the governor for having suspicions about this particular race (we did too), but the fact remains that Sanford cannot continue tiptoeing along the sidelines if he expects to succeed in helping shape a new Republican majority in the coming year.
He’s got to take sides, call his enemies out on the issues and spend his war chest very, very wisely.
Additionally, fiscal conservatives need to make sure they’ve got good candidates in competitive races who are advised by consultants they trust, and then they’ve got to work together with emerging local and statewide coaltions in a strategically-coordinated, tactically-sound, crisply-messaged manner.
None of that happened in Aiken, and if this race is any indication of what’s to come, the forces of reform in our state have their work cut out for them.
That’s why in more ways than one, the first skirmish of the War of ’08 was pretty much a dud.