Flattop Bob Conley vs Lindsey Graham: Republican vs Republican in SC Senate Race
The South Carolina Democratic Party did not pay any attention to challenging Lindsey Graham in this year’s US Senate election. Apparently the cost of running a winning campaign combined with the enormous fundraising advantage Graham enjoys as an incumbent ruled out a serious contest in the state’s other national election this year.
This is fundamentally unserious, it indicates the extreme unhealthy state of the two major parties and democracy in general. When more than 90% of incumbents are returned to office, the position of challenger to a sitting U.S. Senator becomes essentially worthless. The role was not sought by a mainstream state Democrat like Inez Tannenbaum. Instead two outsiders entered the primary, probably only interested in the contest as a political platform for future organizing. One candidate was backed by the SC AFL-CIO, the other by a collection of political outsiders who ought not have been competitive.
When choosing between two underfunded candidates with similar sounding names, voters in the Democratic primary nearly split the vote. It seems unlikely that the majority of voters knew who they were voting for, given the virtual media blackout on the Senate race.
Robert M. “Bob” Conley won the SC Democratic primary on June 10, 2008. At the time SCDP chairman Don Fowler said, “That’s the Democratic Party. We welcome anybody.” The writer of the AP article proved more prescient than Fowler:
“Democrats didn’t put much effort into recruiting a big-name candidate to take on Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham in November. Now, it’s possible their chosen politician will be tough for many in the party to support.”
Tough to support is an understatement. Conley was a member of the Horry County GOP Committee until he won the Democratic Primary. That in itself would not rule him out from being a DP candidate, but Conley is seriously out of step with the majority of DP voters.
Conley is endorsed by neoconfederates, and he is proud enough of the support to include youtube videos of these endorsements on his campaign website. Neoconfederates position themselves as small government isolationists. Support for the CSA as a social model is implicitly a position of apology for slavery and a carefully rebranded exposition of white nationalist extremism.
Whatever else his campaign may run on (and its taken on an isolationist foreign policy and a return to the gold standard), the association of Conley with the neoconfederates completely alienates the African-American South Carolinians who are a majority in the SCDP and without whom no Democratic victory is possible. Unquestionably, the majority of Conley’s voter’s were African-American citizens who would never have supported a Confederate apologist had they known who he was.
Democrats had the opportunity to run Michael Cone on the Working Families Party line, as he had previously been endorsed by that ballot-qualified party.
The South Carolina Working Families Party has declined to forward its nomination of Mr. Cone to the SC Electoral Commission, so Cone will not appear on the ballot. The SC WFP hasn’t updated its webpage to reflect the fact that none of its nominees won the DP primaries. Nor did they forward the nomination of Eugene Platt, who had been endorsed by the Green Party, and who is being opposed by the SCDP.
Conley’s support runs the gamut from neoconfederates to the fundamentalist religious right. He has been endorsed by the southern secessionists such the Southron Liberation News Service, Charleston radio host and local columnist the “Southern Avenger”, and by the Constitution Party’s presidential nominee, Pastor Chuck Baldwin.
The decision to roll over after the selection of Conley was hardly justified. Less than 1,500 votes separated Cone and Conley and a recount was necessary to determine the final result. By his own account, Conley raised and spent only $30,000 to the end of June. Cone raised less money but spent about as much, leaving his campaign with $9,500 debt. Conley apparently won the race based on chance rather than any substantive factors. Cone has removed his campaign website, but on the google cache of his Issues page, he defines himself as a Populist and endorses national health care. Cones’ issues page is otherwise light on specifics, something he may have been thinking of when he told AP reporter Jim Davenport that he wished he’d paid more attention to his opponent.
Cone could have campaigned on national health care, if nothing else, and might even have taken a reconciliation stand on immigration and distinguished himself from the exclusionary panic of Conley and the unworkable compromise of Graham. The failure to run even a token campaign against Graham on the WFP line is an acknowlegement that no candidate would have offered much an alternative to the Republican and a contempt for the political process.
No one doubts that Graham will win the election. He’s raised more than $10,000,000. The DP’s decision to throw the Senate election in SC concedes the political space of state’s other national election to apologists for slavery. The party would have formulated any kind of challenge to Graham, given is lackluster effort in the primary. It has turned the field of civil liberties and anti-war vote over the the right wing. The only possible reason for not contesting the election of two anti-immigrant, anti-health care candidacies would be because the SCDP would rather trust to the ignorance of the polity than contest the election.
Graham will be 90 years old in 2045. The SCDP is apparently willing for Graham to hit Strom Thurmond’s seniority before they spend the money necessary to seriously contest the election. Alternatively, they might admit that the political system is sick and needs serious reform to overcome the powers of incumbency – not likely considering how they sought to block third party candidacies while rolling over on the hijacking of their ballot line by right wing extremists.
== Further Reading ==
See Baldwin’s endorsement on Hunter’s radio show here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnK8pw2yyMg
Google Search for State Working Families Parties showing identical templates and language: http://www.google.com/search?q=Working+Families+Party+South+Carolina&rls=com.microsoft:*:IE-SearchBox&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7DKUS
SC Working Families Party: http://scwfp.org/endorsements.php
Individual donations to the Robert M. Conley campaign to June 23, 2008: http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/can_ind/S8SC00126 (mostly from outside the state of SC)
Committee donations to Robert M. Conley campaign to June 27, 2008: http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/com_rcvd/C00448845/ (single $5000 donation from the National Committee For An Effective Congress, a DP clearinghouse for funds. The donation belies the Wikipedia assertion that the NCEC “backs candidates who support freedom of choice, separation of church and state, gun control, equal rights, and environmental protection”. Conley opposes “abortion, same-sex marriage, gun control, and amnesty for illegal immigrants…“. The NCEC uncritically backs the DP: http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?ID=D000000146&Name=National+Cmte+for+an+Effective+Congress.
Posted on September 15, 2008, in Politics, South Carolina and tagged aim high with bob, Bob Conley, Chuck Baldwin, Constitution Party, Flattop Bob, Green Party of South Carolina, incumbency, Jack Hunter, Lindsey Graham, Michael Cone, neoconfederate, Robert M. Conley, SC AFL-CIO, South Carolina Democratic Party, South Carolina Green Party, South Carolina Senate election, South Carolina Working Families Party, two party system. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.