By Paul Gable
As polls open for Election 2012, we thought it would be interesting to take a shot at predicting the outcome of some of the more difficult and contentious races around the state.
For this we chose two SC House races on the coast where only petition candidates are on the ballot, two contentious SC Senate races in the midlands, the new 7th Congressional District race and the one for that White House in D.C.
These are not endorsements nor are they preferences on our part. They are merely our best guess on who will win tomorrow. Yell at our picks if you want to.
House District 105 is the hardest to pick because it is really a primary being held during the general election. Not an actual primary but five petition candidates are all that’s on the ballot, so its essentially the same thing. We believe former county council member Kevin Hardee, because of his name recognition, and newcomer Blake Hewitt will be the top two vote getters, in either order, and we have no feel for the final order of finish in a race where 21 or 22 percent of the total vote could be the winning plurality.
The new House District 56 race has been spirited, sometimes mean spirited, in what Tea Party advocates, at least, are billing a contest between their candidate Mike Ryhal and what they call Republican Party establishment candidate Dennis DiSabato. If this really is the last stand of the Tea Party in Horry County, it will not have a good ending as DiSabato should win this by 10 points or so, on the strength of a more solid ground game.
The Senate District 23 race with petition candidate Katrina Shealy trying to take out incumbent Sen. Jake Knotts has been one of the dirtiest in the state. But, Shealy couldn’t take out Knotts four years ago and she hasn’t become any better candidate this time, still mostly empty suit. Knotts, despite his shortcomings, will pull this contest out.
Senate District 26 will see an incumbent go down, in our opinion. We don’t see Democratic incumbent Nikki Setzler able to hold off challenger DeeDee Vaughters and a determined Republican campaign to win this one. Vaughters in a close one.
In the new 7th Congressional District, the “R” behind his name will pull Tom Rice through to victory. Despite a dismal record as Horry County council chairman and being an underwhelming candidate, Rice will claim the trip to Washington. This result is a perfect example of the negatives that too often occur within an essentially one party state.
In a presidential contest where maybe neither candidate deserves to win, we predict four more years for Obama. It’s difficult to defeat an incumbent, despite a poor record in his first four years. It takes a charismatic challenger who can connect with voters and pull them in his direction. This is certainly not the case with Romney who is the absolute worst campaigner we have ever seen at this level. ‘Plastic Man’ will forever be our impression of the 2012 presidential campaign. It will be very close because of polarizing issues and a polarized electorate, but not because of the challenger’s qualities.
We’d like to leave you with this thought about the next four years in Washington. Barry Goldwater told us in 1964 that extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. So far in the 2000’s, we have learned that extremism in a democratic republic does not work. No one side is absolutely right or absolutely wrong on each issue. A better way must be found in Washington.