By Paul Gable
The first S.C. Gubernatorial Debate for 2014 is now history and it proved absolutely nothing.
Gov. Nikki Haley is cruising to a second term election victory next month as long as she doesn’t make any fatal errors. Haley is smart enough to avoid fatal errors and she’ll “spin” her way out of any other miscues she makes like she always does.
Haley’s comment about being found “not guilty” on ethics violation charges is a perfect example, even though she paid ethics fines for incomplete campaign finance records and for using a state plane for prohibited events.
Haley likes to push the “economic recovery” she has led in South Carolina during her first term. But, nobody hears about the 27.3% more South Carolinians on food stamps, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, than when she took office.
Haley claims the creation of 57,000 new jobs while Democratic challenger state senator Vincent Sheheen says only about half that number actually have employees working at them.
But former state senator and judge Tom Ervin, who is running as an Independent Republican, published an expose report about Haley’s job creation. Among other revelations in Ervin’s report are the $130,000 in campaign contributions Haley received from companies that received tax breaks, cash grants and other taxpayer funded incentives to create jobs here.
Using public dollars to buy companies (who may or may not actually create jobs) to locate here isn’t economic development. Libertarian candidate Steve French said it perfectly with the best one-liner in last night’s debate.
“I look at jobs like I look at sex. You shouldn’t brag about it if you have to pay for it,” French said.
And then we had United Citizens and Green Party candidate Morgan Bruce Reeves who apparently sees the legalization of marijuana as the answer to all the state’s economic woes.
Sheheen raised the Confederate Flag on statehouse grounds issue probably more to stimulate his base than to stimulate actual debate.
And Ervin was the only candidate to advocate raising the state’s gas tax to create revenue to fix the state’s growing road maintenance shortfall.
But, in the final analysis, after last night’s debate, Haley will maintain her 10 percentage point lead in the polls over closest challenger Sheheen while Ervin, Reeves and French will continue with less than 5% each.
Why? Because she has the “R” behind her name in this reddest of all states where voters vote for the party, not the candidate and crony capitalism is the name of the game.