Uninspiring choices for SC in 2010 Senate race

Some Democratic Party jokers with impaired senses of humor have thrown 20 innocuous questions at underdog Democratic Senatorial candidate Mike Ruckes.   There’s a distinct absence of wit on either side, but for those who are interested here is the exchange:

BWIUBS: Looking at your district/state on a map…what does the outline of your district resemble?
Mike: The Middle Class.

BWIUBS: What is your favorite crayon color?
Mike: Blue

BWIUBS: What is your favorite thing about being a candidate?
Mike: Meeting the voters of South Carolina.

What is your least favorite thing about being a candidate?
Mike: The hours..lol

BWIUBS: When you were growing up, what did you want to be and why?
Mike: A leader…because A leader can really make changes…and with me, positive changes for the Middle Class.

BWIUBS: IF you were on death row, what would you want your last supper to be and who would you want to cook it?
Mike: I will not be on death row…

BWIUBS: If you could run for office in any other district/state…where would you do so and why?
Mike: I am the run for United States Senator in 2010 for the state of South Carolina. SC must come into  the 21st with regards to progressive ideology. I wish to lead that ideology.

BWIUBS: Favorite sport and team in that sport?
Mike: Basketball…Detroit Pistons

BWIUBS: Most recent book you read?
Mike: Moby Dick

BWIUBS: What kind of car do you drive?
Mike: Ford: Explorer

BWIUBS: Favorite character in the movie “The Breakfast Club”?
Mike: Not sure…

BWIUBS: Where are you when answering these questions?
Mike: At lunch…

BWIUBS: Best meal you’ve had at a banquet since becoming a candidate?
Mike: Charleston County Democratic party dinner.

BWIUBS: If you could be any cartoon character…which one would you be?
Mike: I pass…

BWIUBS: The day after the election, win or lose…which amusement park would you prefer to visit and why?
Mike: Disney World…seems to be a great place to visit.

BWIUBS: If you could come up with a new animal as the mascot for the Democratic Party which animal would you pick and why?
Mike: I like the present 1.

BWIUBS: What is your favorite board game and why?
Mike: Chess…you test the strategy of the other person…

BWIUBS: What was the last movie you saw in a movie theater?
Mike: James Bond newest movie.

BWIUBS: As teenagers, many of us had posters of our favorite movie stars, musicians etc on the walls….what was on the walls of your room as a teen ager?
Mike: Martin Luther King Jr.

BWIUBS: Last but not least….say one nice thing about your Republican opponent.
Mike: He stands against middle class values.

Profoundly uninspiring. The full item is here.

Ruckes has been beating the pavement for over a year, but didn’t file any campaign contributions in the first three quarters of 09. Although he’s attended plenty of Democratic dinners, he doesn’t seem to have any institutional support. I heard a rumor that the Working Families Party had endorsed Ruckes, but doubt it. He may be courting them, but its way too early for an endorsement.

Also in the primary is ex-North Myrtle Beach mayoral candidate Gary Montgomery Stephens, who seems to have filed FEC paperwork to run for U.S. President in 2012, doesn’t have a website, and doesn’t seem to have made any kind of formal announcement about anything.

Charlotte lawyer (but Ft. Mill resident) Chad McGowan would seem to be the man to beat in the Democratic primary, just because his website looks good. He must have money and the discretion to hire web designers of taste, therefore he is the front-runner. At the time that he declared there were rumors that he’d been registered as a Republican when living in North Carolina. McGowan seems to have given money to both Democrats and Republicans in the past, including Lindsey Graham and John Kerry. Interestingly, he made a $2400 contribution to Trey Gowdy on June 9, 2009.

Gowdy is the 7th Circuit Solicitor for South Carolina and a candidate in the Republican primary against Bob Inglis for the 1st Congressional District. Gowdy is as you would expect, quite right-wing. Maybe not enough for some people, who talk up a third party challenge if Gowdy doesn’t walk the chalk on private school vouchers, and require unstinting adherence to the Greenvile County GOP platform. Gowdy is still plenty right wing: wants a reduction in capital gains taxes, is opposed to health care reform, has a prosecutorial mindset, etc.

McGowan may have been recruited to run as a credible-looking candidate by establishment Democrats in the state who didn’t want a repeat of the Bob Conley debacle of 2008. Conley was a Ron Paul supporter and former Horry County GOP committeman who ran against a similarly named challenger in the Democratic primary and won. Better to run anybody, even the bluest of the blue dogs, and not see another Sargent Carter defending the gold standard as a Democrat.

It is difficult to get a bead on McGowan’s specific stands on his website. He avoids social issues and sticks to platitudes and talk of tax credits. The statement “I believe the rights of every individual should always triumph over the interests of any corporation.” is nice but doesn’t tie into a platform. This kind of talk will at least not help your opponents raise money, but then Demint hardly needs it and the others are irrelevant.  None of Demint’s challengers had raised a dime toward the race when the last available FEC reports were filed after September 30, 2009. By that time, Jim DeMint had already raised $5,242,216 and spent $2,378,674 leaving $2,860,407 cash on hand this election cycle. That money comes from more than 926 individual contributions and 429 political action committee contributions. That alone is a steep hill to climb.

The Democrats like McGowan are stuck in a trap: knowing they are going to lose they still tow the line on politically innocuous proposals, hoping for an incumbent’s misstep that will get them in with 50.1%. Its a lifeless kind of politics that never engages in much beyond fundraising. With a message and campaign so guided by polling and campaign spending, ward-level politics are almost entirely dead.

There are ‘minor’ parties which are virtually confined to local actions by the expense of competing in statewide races. The Green Party, the United Citizens Party, the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party and the Independence Party are all ballot qualified political parties in South Carolina. Anyone of them could put a candidate forward, but probably won’t on account of the barriers to election.

Its entirely possible for Greens to run for local non partisan offices and win, like running on improved watershed testing platform for the county Soil and Water Commission.   In partisan races, it is a different story.  Fundraising is at the Congressional or Senatorial level requires a statewide network and respect from the media.  No one without private wealth and without a major party endorsement, even a city councilperson, will get a fair hearing in the media or statewide political establishment.  That is doubly true for ‘minor’ party candidates.  Anyone appearing on the ballot as a Green Senate candidate, must be prepared to run a tireless single person campaign for much of the state.   While talking about single-payer health care to the Clinton Lions Club could be its own reward, building a progressive third party at any level gives people upset with the current system somewhere to go.   The alternatives may be right wing populism or inactivity.

In ten years, perhaps the Greens will have organized enough local committees through county level work to run a credible campaign for Senate. I hope so. If the organization that was built for the 2000 Nader campaign had hung together, perhaps we’d be there now. No use crying over spilt milk. We’ve got to join up together like we will be there in another ten.


Posted on January 6, 2010, in Politics, South Carolina and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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