A Tale of Two Seasons - Looking Ahead
With the Labor Day holiday almost upon us, two seasons are about to shift into high gear - football and politics.
South Carolina's Gamecock squad got a jump on the action yesterday with its nationally-televised 15-0 win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs, and the Clemson Tigers' officially open up their 2006 slate tomorrow against Florida Atlantic.
For both schools - and for all the candidates whose names appear on the general election ballot - hope springs eternal in September. Then comes October, a month in which the proverbial cream rises to the top. Finally, come November, we get the answers we've been waiting for.
As a prelude to the ad and earned media blitzes to come, here's a quick recap of where the Top Four 2006 statewide campaigns currently stand:
Governor - Incumbent Republican Mark Sanford's campaign has stumbled - badly - turning what should have been a reelection rout into a marginally-competitive race. Fortunately for the governor, his Democratic opponent Tommy Moore has failed to capitalize on these numerous missteps, and barring a miraculous fundraising quarter from Moore the race is still Sanford's to lose. Sanford's people keep bragging about his huge cash advantage, but it's frankly past time the governor put something resembling a decent message behind that mountain of money.
If the race were held today? Sanford 53, Moore 47.
Lt. Governor - As much as it pains us to say, incumbent Republican Andre Bauer is one step away from pulling off the most impressive political comeback in state history. Written off by the pundits (and us) following a second-place finish in the GOP primary, Bauer stormed back to win the GOP nomination in a close runoff race with Mike Campbell. Democrat Robert Barber is the most viable of his party's slate of nominees, to be sure, but thusfar his campaign seems lethargic in every area but fundraising. If there's one thing the GOP runoff proved, it's that lethargy against the hard-working Bauer is lethal.
If the race were held today? Bauer 52, Barber 48.
Treasurer - Oddly enough, this race has gotten more ink than the top of the ticket contests due to the consistent defiance of political wisdom and shoot-from-the-hip style of GOP challenger Thomas Ravenel (a.k.a. T-Rav). What could have been a lethal intra-party spat with prominent GOP Kingfish John Rainey has instead turned into a debate over whether incumbent Democrat Grady Patterson's performance is merely bad or downright abysmal. The 82-year old Patterson, who yesterday announced his refusal to debate Ravenel, also has yet to face the inevitable T-Rav TV onslaught.
If the race were held today? Ravenel 54, Patterson 46.
Superintendent of Education - The only open seat among the big four races, the battle to replace outgoing Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum has been fought almost completely under the radar thusfar. That will change after Labor Day, but at this point Republican Karen Floyd remains solidly in the driver's seat. Democrat Jim Rex is a capable, likeable candidate, but he just doesn't seem to be raising the money needed to be competitive. Well-funded, eloquent and disarmingly attractive, Floyd has to translate those advantages into better TV this go 'round (her primary and runoff ads were pathetic), but the lack of a well-funded, big-name opponent on the Democratic side makes this the least competitive of the season's top races.
If the race were held today? Floyd 55, Rex 45.