Five Crappiest Campaigns of 2006
It was fitting that President George W. Bush and White House master strategist Karl Rove were both in the Palmetto State this weekend.
Why? Because both men get honorable mentions in our compilation of the crappiest South Carolina political campaigns of 2006.
To be sure, Rove snuck Bush across the goal line against John Kerry (the Tommy Moore of American politics) in 2004, but this year's cycle is showing the extreme wear apparent on the duo's "bomb the Muslims, blockade the Mexicans" strategy.
In addition to placing Republican control of the House - and possibly the Senate - in jeopardy, Bush and Rove are big contributors to the chart-topper in FITS "Five Crappiest Campaigns of 2006" list:
1. Ralph Norman, Republican, U.S. Fifth District
Ralph Norman is one of the most honest-to-God, nice guys you'll ever meet in your life. He's also got a spotless record when it comes to protecting your tax dollars, in stark contrast to his opponent John Spratt, the consummate Washington insider. Unfortunately, Norman got himself hitched up with the biggest collection of losers since Bob Peeler got his hat handed to him in 2002. These DC and SC morons proceeded to play inside political baseball, pander to social conservatives and make immigration the number one issue of the race - despite the fact that illegals have worked on some of the work sites tied to Norman's development company. Can anybody say "Ryberg and Gambling?" Stupid, stupid, stupid. Norman's campaign is the runaway winner here, especially given the amazing candidate they had to work with.
2. Tommy Moore, Democrat, Governor
Who is Tommy Moore? Well, the fact that polls taken just last week show only half of South Carolina's registered voters can answer that question pretty much says it all. On June 13, Moore trounced his Democratic primary opponent by a 2-to-1 margin and watched Gov. Mark Sanford give up 35% of the GOP vote against a political unknown. Then, as far as we can tell, Moore basically sat on his ass for about two months. Sanford's record was ripe for the picking, his campaign was bumbling through an ill-conceived negative attack and polls showed a single-digit race emerging. Seriously, Eldridge Emory could have been the Democratic nominee and still raised $5 million under those circumstances, but Moore didn't even get half of that when it counted. As a result, Sanford stayed on TV unanswered for months and when Moore finally did show up, it was amateur hour.
3. Karen Floyd, Republican, Superintendent of Education
The first of our Crappy Campaign honorees that will actually end up winning on November 7, Floyd's 2006 effort has nonetheless been a disaster. Her TV ads are awful, she's underperformed in both debates, she's backpedaled on the school choice issue and Jim Rex has eaten her for lunch in the earned media department. Anytime one of your press releases reads "I’m going to travel the state on a bicycle to discuss my comprehensive plan for a zero tolerance policy which includes innovative solutions like putting cameras in the classroom and linking drivers’ licenses to behavior," you know things are bad. From holding a dove hunt fundraiser on 9/11 to a flubbed law enforcement endorsement, Floyd has done everything possible to lose this race. Fortunately for her, Rex only has $4,000 cash on hand.
4. Grady Patterson, Democrat, Treasurer
Anytime The State newspaper endorses a fiscally conservative Republican, you know you've run a pathetic campaign. Team Grady has done nothing but attack GOP nominee Thomas Ravenel, and even then it had to rely on a RINO like John Rainey to do its dirty work. Camp Patterson thought it could hammer T-Rav endlessly on the possibility that he might run for U.S. Senate in 2008, but when Ravenel took that card off of the table the walls in Trav Roberston's world started closing in.
5. Mark Sanford, Republican, Governor
Mark Sanford was born under a lucky star, and in 2006 that star just happened to be named Tommy Moore. In 2002, Sanford was a principled leader, not a politician. This go-round he was the consummate politician. In 2002, Sanford ran a passionate campaign of ideas. This go-round he ran a pedantic campaign of insider intrigue. With a well-established cult of personality and $8 million to promote it, the governor is understandably on cruise control - and has been for months. But it helps when only 1 out of 2 registered voters can identify your opponent. Fortunately for the governor, the ineptness of campaign manager Jason Miller was eclipsed by the inertia of the entire Moore campaign. Oh, and Sanford still looks pretty good - if not as convincing this time -on television.
Not-so-honorable mention: Democrat Drew Theodore (Comptroller General), Republican Hugh Weathers (Agriculture Commissioner), Democrat Jim Rex (Superintendent of Education).