She Might Be Senator
She's the mother of four, a Gulf War military veteran, an accomplished athlete and a successful businesswoman ...
Oh, and did we mention, she's also a drop-dead hottie!
Honestly, what's not to like about Horry County political up-and-comer Katherine Jenerette?
An independent-thinking conservative who's not afraid to buck the status quo, Jenerette sent shockwaves through the Palmetto political landscape back in 2004, the year she nearly signed longtime good ole' boy Democratic Sen. Dick Elliot's retirement papers.
Now Elliot, a remarkably well-funded, well-heeled and well-connected Democrat who collects IOU's like Will Folks collects enemies, is suddenly thinking of switching parties a la Luke Rankin - deliberations you can bet your bottom dollar are a direct result of the unexpected Jenerette juggernaut.
After being outspent nearly 10-1 and written off by a State Republican Party who said she didn't "poll well," Jenerette put up a pretty accurate poll of her own, losing to Elliot in the general eletion by a scant 1,800-vote margin out of over 30,000 cast.
Can anybody say "girl got grassroots fo' yo' money?"
All of a sudden, Republican Senators who refused to support Jenerette because of backdoor deals they'd previously cut with Elliot were put on notice that they may have a problem come the next election cycle.
Which they do.
Despite Elliot's potential party-switcheroo and rumblings of a GOP primary challenge from Burroughs & Chapin lap dog Tracy Edge, Jenerette's made clear that she's running again in 2008. In fact, she published a half-page "voter participation" ad in the Myrtle Beach Sun News prior to this year's primary elections.
And why wouldn't she? The advantages a well-supported Jenerette would enjoy against either Elliot or Edge in 2008 are difficult to ignore.
First, she's got great name ID and a reputation for overachieving. Second, she's an outsider who isn't beholden to anybody in Columbia - whether it's the big government Bobby Harrell/ Hugh Leatherman RINO caucus or the fiscally-conservative, Reagan Republican Mark Sanford crowd. Third, Jenerette is an active member of various coastal planning commissions and a strong advocate for the construction of a Grand Strand regional airport, which in Columbia-speak means she's got a finger on the pulse of her district's hot button economic development issues.
Last but not least, Jenerette boasts an apple pie background rooted in three things every red-blooded American can appreciate - family, military and business.
In contrast, Elliot and Edge are consummate "Jokerville" insiders who - between the two of them - are in more people's pockets (and have more people in their pockets) than the street thieves in Dickens' Oliver Twist. In addition to their special interest slavishness and insider taint, neither Edge nor Elliot are particularly effective retail politicians, focusing instead on cloakroom dominance and bringing home the bacon to make their respective cases to the voters.
Obviously we're still a long way from 2008, and anything can happen. Edge hasn't even announced that he's running for the seat and Elliot hasn't switched parties ... yet.
But no matter what institutional forces may align against Katherine Jenerette in a second run for the State Senate, make no mistake that hers is a star on the rise in South Carolina politics.