It's that time again, when all the political commercials have been aired, speeches given, polls taken and lesser endorsements awarded.
With less than 48 hours remaining to D-Day, Campaign 2006 in South Carolina now boils down to a simple question: What Would FITS Do?
We're calling them our EndorseFITS, because that word sounds like a lot like "endorsements" and includes our name, which for just a moment made us feel mildly clever and creative until we realized how cheezy it actually is.
Tomorrow we'll be issuing our long-awaited predictions (who we think will win), but today we're talking about who we think should win:
GOVERNOR - Mark Sanford
Despite the occasional political missteps and a pathetically-managed reelection campaign, Sanford remains one of the best things that's ever happened to this state. He's as solid a fiscal conservative as you're going to find anywhere in the country, and his consistent record of protecting the taxpayers and fighting for long-overdue structural changes to government is admirable given the entrenched opposition he faces on a daily basis in Columbia. Hopefully, he'll learn how to use his popularity during a second term to achieve more of his goals, maybe learning a "carrot and stick" approach when dealing with the Legislature that will allow for some compromise on smaller issues. Ironically, he's been far too willing to compromise on the big ticket items.
We've had our issues with Sanford in the past, and by now it's pretty clear that he's nowhere near as pure as his cult of personality would suggest, but Tommy Moore as governor would be an unmitigated disaster for our state. Thankfully for those of us who care about free market reforms, Moore has run an even worse campaign than Sanford has.
LT. GOVERNOR - Andre Bauer
Given up for dead after finishing a distant second to Mike Campell in the June 13 GOP primary, Andre battled back in the runoff and pulled one of the most amazing political comebacks in recent memory. Since then, he's run a steady campaign, kept his nose clean and showed a lot of political courage by supporting expanded school choice, among other things. His opponent, Robert Barber, seemed to offer a lot of promise early on but never really came out with any defining ideas. As a result, he's now being defined as a cockfighting lobbyist, which unless you're a member of a cockfighting ring isn't a good thing. Barber's attempt to keep this affiliation hidden also hasn't helped him build up any points in the integrity department.
TREASURER - Thomas Ravenel
Insiders can say what they want about T-Rav, but he's run one of the best general election campaigns in recent memory and more than demonstrated his competency for the state's top financial post. With a commanding knowledge of what needs to be done to fix our state's antiquated investment system and a true conservative zeal for cutting taxes and spending, Ravenel is the future of the South Carolina Republican Party. His opponent, incumbent Grady Patterson, has spent four decades in office and yet couldn't come up with anything to run on except negative ads and the incessant blathering of RINO-in-Chief John Rainey.
Ravenel deserves perhaps the most credit for defying political wisdom and directly engaging the irascible "Seersucker Kingfish." Every other Republican in the state is petrified of Rainey's money and influence, but Ravenel took the fight directly to the liberal BEA Chairman and has effectively marginalized him for the foreseeable future. Before Thomas Ravenel, Rainey's outbursts made statewide headlines. Today, the Hotline doesn't even publish his rants.
SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION - Karen Floyd
We wish Karen had stuck to her school choice guns during the general election campaign but we remain convinced she's the best person for this job. We like Democrat Jim Rex, but he's basically advancing all the same ideas that have kept South Carolina's public education system in the toilet for decades. Floyd would challenge the status quo and work with the governor to reform PACT, streamline more funding to the classroom and yes, expand choices for parents.
Our hope for Karen is that she runs the State Department of Education with the same passion and purpose that she showed in announcing for the office and running her primary campaign, where she throttled RINO Bob Staton.
COMPTROLLER GENERAL - Richard Eckstrom
For all the money Richard Eckstrom has saved the taxpayers of this state, we ought to pay for him to take a vacation every year. True, Eckstrom's jaunt to Minnesota was a mistake, but his strong fiscal conservative leadership has saved this state millions of dollars and no one (not even Sanford) has done more of the heavy lifting when it comes to looking out for the taxpayers' bottom line. Eckstrom's opponent, Drew Theodore, is a joke. His entire campaign has been built around attacking Eckstrom for taking the van ride, and he literally can't put together a complete sentence (unless he's making strange and inappropriate comments on automotive websites).
Eckstrom is indispensible to state government, especially on the Budget and Control Board, and his leadership during BRAC helped preserve one of our state's most important industries - the military. This one is a no-brainer.
SECRETARY OF STATE - Nobody
Seriously, we could elect a barstool to this position and it wouldn't matter. The fact that this office appears on the ballot at all is an embarassment to South Carolina. Our advice here is to write in Sic Willie. His campaign pledge? To transer the office's limited clerical responsibilities to the Governor's Office of Executive Policy and Programs and let the First Lady's office handle the annual "Scrooges and Angels" charity review.
Honestly, there are janitors at DHEC with more responsibility than South Carolina's Secretary of State.
COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE - Emil DeFelice
Yeah, we're endorsing a Democrat. Republican Hugh Weathers is a nice guy, but DeFelice brings youth, new ideas and a passion for cultivating South Carolina's home-grown assets into a formidable economic force. "Put Your State On Your Plate" is a brilliant idea, and DeFelice has run one of the best campaigns you've probably never heard of. This is another office that should clearly be appointed, and there's no doubt either Weathers or DeFelice would make a great appointment. Until the Legislature wises up and allows the people to choose whether we should waste another ballot spot on this office - DeFelice gets the nod.
ADJUTANT GENERAL - Nobody
Stan Spears is a nice guy. So's his son, Stan, Jr. But this is just another example of an office that has no business being on the ballot. In fact, we're the only state that has it on the ballot. 'Nuff said.
STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 75 - Jim Harrison
Harrison is an Army veteran who's served five tours of duty and been a leader in protecting the most vulnerable South Carolinians during his 18-year career in the House. His opponent is a jerk, and his entire campaign has been based on stuff that Harrison has already accomplished. We know this one isn't a statewide contest, but you're not going to find anybody in Columbia with more integrity than Harrison, and we couldn't let an endorseFITS article go by without showing Jim the love he deserves.
LOOK FOR FITS EXCLUSIVE ELECTION PREDICTIONS TOMORROW ...