How the Consultants Fared
Easy TFC, we're not grading Sic Willie so you can all relax and go back to hastening the self-inflicted demise of mid-level politicos in Horry County or whatever it is you're doing with your ample free time these days.
In fact, Ol' Wilbur will be the first person to tell you that all he did this election cycle was lend a little late-inning relief pitching to Election 2006's biggest winner amongst the top-tier Palmetto political consultants.
To the grades ...
ROD SHEALY - A+
Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer's "Miracle on Lincoln Street" over Robert Barber and his come-from-behind primary win over Mike Campbell are already the stuff of legend in South Carolina politics. There is simply no way Andre should have even gotten out of the primary, let alone get reelected, but somehow he and Rod did it. Shealy also guided Richard Eckstrom past a formidable (not to mention vicious) challenge from Drew Theodore and helped T-Rav send a nine-term incumbent packing from the Treasurer's Office (this after Ravenel crushed a guy who spent $2 million in the GOP primary). Speaking of the GOP primary, let's not forget about political unknown Oscar Lovelace scoring 35% against an incumbent governor. After sub-par years in 2002 and 2004, Shealy is back in the saddle again.
RICHARD QUINN - A
Attorney General Henry McMaster is hugely popular had no opposition in either the primary or general election this go-round - quite a feat in and of itself, and Adjutant Stan Spears coasted in his statewide race, too. Quinn and his son, Rick Quinn, also masterminded Jim Harrison's landslide win over potent challenger Boyd Summers in a House District where all the other Republicans got their hats handed to them. With dozens of establishment political figures already flocking to U.S. Sen. John McCain's Straight Talk Express for 2008, things are definitely looking up again at the Quinndom.
JON LERNER - D+
Sure, Mark Sanford won in a landslide, but how much of that is the consultant and how much of it was the candidate's pre-existing cult of personality (pigs in the State House, etc.)? Sanford ran a shaky campaign against a second-tier challenger who couldn't even raise half of the money he raised -and who ran an even shakier campaign himself. And now the bigger question: How good is Lerner independent of Mark Sanford in South Carolina? Here's a hint - look for the answer among the stacks of provisional ballots Karen Floyd supporters are currently combing through in search of enough votes to put her over the top against Jim Rex.
WARREN TOMPKINS - I (Incomplete)
The former grand pooh-bah of political consulting in South Carolina couldn't even get a statewide candidate out of the primary this year, with two well-funded horses in the GOP Superintendent of Education and Treasurer's races both getting unceremoniously trounced. Tompkins' evil hordes did get RINO artifact Bill Cotty reelected against everything SCRG could throw at him in a State House race, but the former Bush "S.C. architect" was so thoroughly not a factor at the statewide level this cycle that he gets an "incomplete" grade. Tompkins will be looking to reclaim his former dominance in 2008 at the highest possible level, but signing onto Mitt Romney's soon-to-be-announced Presidential campaign is probably not the answer. Word is the same pin (pen) that popped the Ryberg balloon with social conservatives in South Carolina is poised to do the same thing - albeit on a much bigger stage - to the Massachusetts governor.
WALTER WHETSELL - F
We don't care how many State House or City Council races Walter may have won this year. He could have personally elected every Republican in the House of Representatives and still gotten an "F" for the phantasmagorically pathetic performance of Ralph Norman. Whetsell has some talented and energetic youngsters in his employ like BJ Boling (who helped Lewis Vaughn win the only State Senate seat up for grabs this cycle) and Eliot Peace (who guided Hugh Weathers through the hard part of his successful reelection bid for Commissioner of Agriculture), but again, none of it makes up for the Norman debacle.
Alright kids, let the comments rip! We're big girls! We can take it!