Democrats threaten shift from Republican party in South Carolina

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AIKEN — This year’s elections give Democrats in South Carolina a rare opportunity to flip the state’s leadership away from the Republican Party. But they will have to overcome decades of Republicans gathering power to do it.

Because of the resignation of U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint in 2012, South Carolina voters are choosing both their U.S. senators and the governor. And unlike recent elections, Democrats have respectable, party-backed candidates running in the races.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is challenged by state Sen. Brad Hutto as he seeks a third term, while GOP Sen. Tim Scott faces Richland County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson in the race to fill out the final two years of DeMint’s term.

History tends to favor Repub­licans. A Democrat hasn’t beaten a GOP incumbent in South Carolina since 1998, and a sitting U.S. senator hasn’t lost a race in the state in nearly 50 years.

But both Hutto and Dickerson say special circumstances around this year’s elections give them a chance.

In Hutto’s case, his campaign is reminding people that 1998 is the year Democrat Jim Hodges beat incumbent Republican Gov. David Beasley, who wasn’t the most popular officeholder in his own party. Also, the 2014 ballot is crowded, including two challengers running to the right of Graham – former state treasurer, reality TV star and convicted felon Thomas Ravenel and Libertarian Victor Kocher. Recent polls also have shown Graham with a higher disapproval rating than any other Republican politician in the state.

Hutto’s campaign figures if he can do a few percentage points better than the 44 percent of the vote President Obama got in South Carolina in 2012, he can beat Graham.

Hutto is embracing Demo­cratic ideas such as raising the minimum wage and improving funding for public schools, while calling himself a pragmatist who can get things done with Republicans. He points out the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce gave him a 100 percent rating for his votes in 2013, and he has the support of the AFL-CIO union.

The chief point Hutto wants to hammer home is that Graham cares more about international affairs, like the attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead.

“He’s talking about Benghazi! Benghazi!” Hutto said at a recent Democratic rally in Aiken. “Look, I want to talk about Barnwell, Bamberg, Beaufort and Bennettsville. He wants to talk about Syria. How about Sally and St. George and Summerville?”

Graham’s campaign referred questions to state Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore, who said Graham can both deal with foreign policy and South Carolina issues.

“No one cares more about South Carolina than Lindsey Graham. He is here constantly, at every party event, helping us,” Moore said.

And Graham did win a Re­pub­lican primary against six challengers earlier this year with 56 percent of the vote. He also has a distinct money advantage. Graham’s campaign spent $8.4 million in the 18 months leading up to the June primary and still had $2.7 million in the bank when it was over.

Hutto had only $51,000 in the bank at the end of the second quarter, but that was just a few weeks after the primary. He said he should have enough money to run a competitive campaign with statewide advertising as the race heats up in September.

Dickerson is the other Dem­ocrat running for U.S. Senate in a race that will be historic no matter how it finishes because South Carolina will elect its first black candidate in a statewide race since Reconstruction.

Dickerson is in even more of a bind with money.

Scott had $3.6 million on hand when the general election campaign started, while Dickerson had less than $3,000.

So while Scott has run television ads in heavy rotation with spots focusing on his ability to connect with “everyday people,” Dickerson has yet to introduce herself on the state’s airwaves. She said she is working on one ad, while also making sure road signs go up around the state.

Scott’s campaign said he has worked hard to introduce himself to everyone in South Carolina, holding events in all 46 of the state’s counties. He wants to make sure everyone in the state has a chance to succeed, campaign spokeswoman Katherine Mize said.

“People consistently say they are looking for greater opportunity, and Sen. Scott’s goal is to help them get there,” Mize said.

WHAT TO KNOW

NO COMPETITION: Treasurer Curtis Loftis, Adjutant General Robert Livingston and U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford – all Republicans – have no competition on the November ballot. Loftis and Livingston each defeated one primary challenger. No one challenged Sanford one year after he won a special election to fulfill Scott’s term.

CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTIONS:

• The first ballot question asks voters whether charity raffles should be legal. While raffles are commonplace, the only legal raffle is the state lottery. Enforcement depends largely on whether someone complains to police.

• The other ballot question asks whether South Carolina’s top military officer, the adjutant general, should be appointed by the governor. South Carolina is the only state where voters elect the adjutant general, and nothing requires candidates to have military experience.

WHAT DO VOTERS NEED TO BRING?

• This will be the first general election for South Carolina’s voter ID law. For the quickest path to the ballot on Election Day, present either a driver’s license, Department of Motor Vehicles ID card, federal military ID, U.S. passport, or voter registration card with a photo – a new ID created by the 2012 law that’s available for free at county election offices.

• Voters can still cast a ballot without ID by signing an affidavit stating why they could not get a photo ID and showing their non-photo voter registration card.

• Voters who forget to bring their photo ID can also vote on paper, but it won’t count unless they show their ID at their county election office before results are certified.

– Associated Press

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Darby
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Darby 09/09/14 - 11:58 am
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“He’s talking about Benghazi! Benghazi!”

Hutto said at a recent Democratic rally in Aiken. “Look, I want to talk about Barnwell, Bamberg, Beaufort and Bennettsville."

.
He talking Benghazi etc, because he's smart enough to realize that the kind of benign dictatorship the Democrats have given us in Washington will assure us of more and more debacles such as Benghazi, the IRS scandal, the Mexican border crisis, etc., etc., etc.

At the rate were going, there won't be a Barnwell, Bamberg or Beaufort worth worrying about. There won't even be an America that's recognizable or worth saving.

If Democrats were SO concerned and SO good at taking care of things at home, why would Hutto even have a complaint? After all, her guy has been in charge for six years now.

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