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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. It’s a shame that the most corrupt politicians are naturally the ones most easily able to raise millions of dollars from corporations and multi-nationals wanting to keep the borders open and our country constantly at war.

    Graham has made himself into the ultimate politician. He has sold himself to the highest bidders and they weren’t the voters of South Carolina.

    I voted for the traitor in 2002. Never again. I’m still pulling knives out of my back. At every instance he has sided with those who care nothing about our country and defending our borders, our jobs, and our lives.

    To those who may point out his “military service” may I kindly remind them that he is a lawyer in the military just as he is in civilian life. Unfortunately, he’s a typical lawyer and a typical politican: whoever pays him the most is whom he represents.

    Conservative Democrats in effect formed a third party in the South for a long time keeping the neo-cons on the right and the socialists on the left in check. Now there’s not a dime’s bit of difference between the parties.

    Personally, I’m more “conservative” than the staunchest Republican and more “liberal” (in the Jeffersonian, classical sense) than the most flaming liberal (who is really more fascist and socialist by strict definition).

    I believe in following the supreme law of the land, the U.S. Constitution, which would keep us out of undeclared wars, restore our Constitutionally recognized God given rights (to prevent Federal invasions of privacy) and stop corporate welfare (like the bailouts of Fannie/Freddie which could easily sink the economy dragging the Fed down with them).

    We’ve gone from a Federal Republic to a fascist/socialist super-state. The current government in unconstitutional. We need to return to our Constitution and beat back the tyranny that’s knocking down the door.

    Bob Conley believes in the Constitution and that’s why I’m voting for him: http://AimHighWithBob.com There’s no other legitimate candidate.

    Lindsey is a warmongering corporatist (Mussolini’s term for fascist) and needs to be kicked out of the U.S. Senate for his treasonous acts so hard that he spends the next six years removing the boot from his posterior.

  2. 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:”

    I am not sure where you get your information because I have not seen any $5000 check from the NCEC or anyone else. Your alleged facts are about as solid as the rest of your posting.

    Bob Conley supports the citizens of South Carolina – black or white or any other ethnicity. He is not speaking for any specific “Southern” group as you have implied. He speaks for the average voter here in the state – MUCH unlike Lindsey Graham. Graham is a supporter of amnesty for illegals and the loss of jobs by ordinary citizens here in this state and others.

    You could always take the time to personally speak with Bob Conley but I doubt that you have the integrity for that. Too bad.

    Lee Griggs
    Campaign Manager
    Bob Conley For Senate (D)

  3. Thanks for writing.

    The image for the paperwork concerning the $500o contribution can be found here:

    The link to the FEC record for the donation is here: http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/com_rcvd/C00448845/

    Given what you say, I may have misread the report. Rather than being a donation to the candidate from the NCEC, it may be a donation from the candidate to the NCEC. If you do reply again, could you make that clear?

    Today’s Rassmussen poll puts Graham at 50% and Conley at 41%, so Mr. Griggs is obviously doing something right, mostly inadverdently. As Conley himself points out, Witherspoon got 33% in the Republican primary from hardcore anti-immigration Republicans.

    I think he’s largely benefiting from viral marketing on the far-right. The campaign’s lack of media exposure ironically works in its favor among Democrats. If Conley’s support for Sarah Palin and neoconfederate ties were in the media every day, his support among traditional Democratic constituencies would drop precipitously.

    The SC DP party probably isn’t publicizing the full extent of their dissatisfaction with Conley, because they don’t want to further depress their vote in November.

    Conley’s nomination is a disaster for the SCDP, but good for the far right, so long as he can keep the plates in the air.

    Conley’s support is coming largely from contradictory constituencies: white Republicans angry at Graham and African-American Democratic voters who don’t know about Conley’s links to the neo-confederates. Any campaign founded on mutally contradictory foundations certainly lacks structural integrity, at least.

    I’m certainly not making up Conley’s neoconfederate connections. The aimhighwithbob campaign website links to the “Southron Liberation News Service”.

    What do you think Mr. Conley’s response would be if I asked him to condemn the CSA as a racist state? Would he or Mr. Griggs accept the Civil War as horrible but necessary to end the evil of slavery?

    Conley really should have to justify this neoconfederate support in front of an African-American audience. Why doesn’t he hold a joint press conference with Jim Clyburn, instead talking to me?

  4. The only “structural integrity” necessary is the U.S. Constitution.

    If you want to promote the candidacy of a warmongering fascist like Graham with idiotic accusations, I doubt you’ve got any principles and are just interesting in playing political “games.” Those games and the handing out of corporate welfare are what have gotten us into this mess today.

    Let’s see what Graham and Bush’s economy does in the next few weeks and then see what your attitude is.

  5. I don’t want to leave you with the wrong impression: I will not be voting in the Senate election. I don’t support Lindsey Graham or Bob Conley.

    I mentioned Cone getting the Working Families Party nomination because I would have considered voting for him. Its academic, since the WFP didn’t forward the nomination to the SC Electoral Commission.

    Graham is a classic establishment Republican. There are no ideas there. Conley represents a split in the Republicans: the George Wallace Democrats are moving out of the GOP. The candidacy of Jim Webb in Virginia is a successful model for Conley. I don’t think that Webb was so closely related to the neo-confederates and the Constitution Party.

    The Constitution Party is free-market and theocracy. I don’t think that has much to ofer the current credit crisis.

    As I wrote in another post, Ralph Nader is one candidate for President who you can say forsaw the dangers of securitization of mortgages. There’s nobody in the SC Senate election with a position resembling Nader’s.

  6. I wondered how long it would take Republican, Lindsey Graham and his operatives to start the smear campaign. “Neo-Confederate”? I am not sure I understand this…let me see, an Indiana born, former union member is a “neo-confederate”? Jack Hunter, the “Southern Avenger” is a former Ron Paul activist. Ron Paul, like Hillary Clinton and Barak O’Bama, and Bob Conley advocated “ending the occupation” of Iraq”. Ron Paul, the real anti-war candidate, should have run as a Democrat. Democrats, like Bill Clinton, stood for fiscal responsibility and against irresponsible war. Democrats used to view war as a method of last resort. Democrats used to believe in individual liberty, and democracy. Democrats used to stand up for the people, Black and White, without regard to color. Bob Conley, unlike John McCain and Barak O’Bama, has spoken out against using our tax dollars to bail out “Wall Street Fat-cats”. As a Democrat, I am appalled that OBama would join with McCain to bail out the excesses of Wall Street. In fact, I am shocked that OBama would engage in the Republican practice of giving “welfare to Wall Street”. I guess those huge donations from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae made him a Republican. I think that the so-called “conservatives” and “liberals” have found some common ground on many issues: anti-war, individual rights, protecting American workers, and no corporate welfare. That sounds pretty Democratic mainstream to me. As far as the webmaster, I wonder how long it will be before there will be a Republican Lindsey Graham ad on this websight.

  7. This websight is a “Republican hit piece”. Bob Conley has consistantly been sympathethic to African-American issues. It raises the ghoul of “neo-confederate connections”, just like the FBI raised the “communist connections” of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. If we can form a partnership with white southerners, regardless of what flag they wave, to advance the welfare of African-Americans, then I am going to vote for him. Bob Conley addresses the issues that are important to the African-American community. As soon as NAFTA and CAFTA were passed, thousands of African Americans lost jobs in many industries. Bob Conley’s policies would change that. The Republicans have talked about “welfare reform” when they talk about main street. Bob Conley talks about cutting off “welfare reform” on Wall Street. I like that. I vote Democrat. I am going to vote for the African-American community, and I am going to vote for Bob Conley.

  8. DJSivlerfish,
    I remember Mike Cone from the Citadel. I like him. In fact, I remember him as a good Cadet. He is a fellow attorney, and I thought hard when I voted for Bob Conley, instead of voting for a fellow Citadel graduate.
    Washington needs change. The solution is neither republocrat, or democrain. Bob Conley offers that change. The bottom line is that it is not in our interst to fund rich corprate interests at the expense of those of us that pay taxes.
    I am voting in the interst of individual liberty. I am voting for peace. I am voting against corparate welfare. I am voting Democrat for Senator. I am voting for Bob Conley.

  9. Thanks for writing, but I have to disagree about the nature of Conley’s campaign. The good, populist, parts of his program (like being against the war and corporate bailouts) are undercut by the support that the campaign seems to be accepting from the far-right.

    So, though it seems like I’d agree with Conley on the anti-war position, if nothing else, I can’t support him because I can’t trust his judgment.

    Bob Conley may be a nice man who loves dogs and children, but his political support from the Southron Liberation News Service and the Constitution Party is politically odious.

    It is laughable to pretend that neoconfederacy positions are anything other than crypto-racist.

    The Constitution Party is a theocratic, paternalistic religious extremist organization, even if they are against the War in Iraq.

    If Conley disagrees, he should disavow the support of these groups. These elements make his platform faux-populist at best.

    Conley could pull a Jim Webb, if he could appeal to African-American voters. He can’t for two reasons: Graham is widely seen as a racial moderate and some people loudly supporting Conley are racists half out of the sheet. I haven’t written about Graham, because he isn’t being boosted by racists, so far as I know. So he’s less interesting. I will write something on immigration later, that will make my opinions on Graham more clear, if you’re bothering to read this and care to come back.

    I wrote this all by myself. I’m a member of the Green Party of South Carolina. I won’t support Graham or Conley. Everyone in SC should skip the Senate election this year.

  10. i wish we had a senator to help the peple of the state of s.c./senator lidsey o. graham of s.c.i have been talk to he worker all they do is send me letters for 3 years/nothing ben done in 3dam years..the gov mark sanford is the same way .they say ti the seatom::all i have is hope you can get the job done /they are not doing ther job!!mr bob conley/i need a little help;;senator lidsey o graham he is off spending the tax payer money on what who knows.he not doing his gob in the state of s.c. i cant even get a dam phone call from him.some one needs to get the job done in s.c. in my opion::vickie wheeler thank you “hope some one will do ther job in the state of s.c.

  11. Regardless of who Chris Daggett hurts, Daggett is not a spoiler and he can win.

    Daggett has broken 20 percent and can win. The Washington Post says at 20% there is a path for Daggett to win and political analysts say with 25% in the polls Daggett can win.

    Now its a matter of getting that last 100,000 votes to get Daggett in a position to win.

    To do that we are reaching out to voters that want to Vote for Daggett but are afraid a vote for Daggett is a wasted vote. So…

    The I’ll vote for Daggett Pledge:

    “I want to vote for Chris Daggett, but only if he has a real chance of winning. He needs pledges from 100,000 people like me. I don’t want to wait til Election Day to find out that those votes existed, but we were all afraid to cast them. So, I’m signing my name below, with my address to prove that I’m real, and pledging that if 100,000 people like me sign up, I will vote for Daggett.”

    Click Here To Take the I’ll Vote For Daggett Pledge

    Spread the word about this pledge, so we can bring an end to politics as usual.

    The broken and corrupt two party system threatens us all, event if we are not from NJ. Take a stand.

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