Inside the Seersucker Showdown
As promised, FITS had a ringside seat for this morning/afternoon's long-awaited showdown between GOP Treasurer Nominee Thomas Ravenel and the "Seersucker Kingfish," BEA Chairman John Rainey.
The so-called "Seersucker Showdown," which was shown live on statewide television by SCETV, featured two of the highest-profile members of the Republican Party doing battle over our state's unfunded liabilites, investment performance, credit rating and government structure.
Of course, we missed much of the first 20 minutes of the meeting (a.k.a. the "Rainey Soliloquy") staring intently at SC Retirement Chief Peggy Boykin's long legs and to-die-for high-heeled black slingbacks.
Anyway, leading the "discussion" (remember, we won't have an actual Treasurer's Office "debate" given incumbent Grady Patterson's deterioriating capabilities) was "The Talented Mr. Rainey," who demonstrated for those previously unaware why he is universally regarded as the most pompous, patrician and presumptuous member of the GOP's status quo, liberal-leaning left.
Aggressively defending Democrat Patterson's abysmal record and attempting to expose Ravenel as a "dilettante," Rainey appeared throughout the two-hour exchange as a rude, arrogant and narrow-minded dilettante himself, repeatedly interrupting Ravenel, Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom and anyone else who attempted to break the steady stream of hot air emanating from his flapping gums.
Ravenel, on the other hand, surprised many inside-the-beltway observers by keeping his cool and not taking the Rainey bait, instead maintaining his poise, staying magnanimous and polite throughout the exchange, illustrating a solid command of the financial particulars up for debate and basically allowing Rainey to interrupt him repeatedly and vent his spleen for the vast majority of the session.
Ravenel scored solid "W's" in the core discussion categories of a) the impact of cost-of-living adjustments on our unfunded liability as a state, b) the underperformance of our retirement portfolio compared to similar large public funds and c) Patterson's ineffectiveness in managing communication between the state and credit rating agencies.
T-Rav also scored a master stroke at one point during the discussion of Patterson's poor performance with the rating agencies, using a letter Rainey himself wrote less than a year ago describing the actions (or lack thereof) of the incumbent as "bizarre," "cavalier," "failed" and "faulted."
Rainey was reduced to accusing FITS' own Sic Willie of leaking the letter to the Ravenel Camp, before huffing and puffing that he had held a "follow-up meeting" with Treasurer Patterson shorly after sending the letter that effectively resolved their differences.
Rainey also blamed Sic Willie for his "Kingmaker" nickname, which our favorite bad boy (on statewide television, no less) clarified as being "Seersucker Kingfish."
Aside from one or two minor stumbles, however, Ravenel dramatically exceeded expectations in this tete-a-tete with one of the most powerful, experienced and eloquent defenders of South Carolina's failed status quo.
Ravenel also staked himself out much further than at any previous point on what has emerged as one of the critical questions of the campaign - whether or not he would serve a full term, saying that he may even serve two terms if elected but that he would definitely serve a full term barring any "incredibly unforseen" eventualities.