On the surface, Columbia S.C. Mayor Bob Coble and challenger Steve Benjamin are having a spirited campaign of ideas in their race to lead South Carolina’s capital city, a.k.a. “the face of the recession.”
They’re talking about budgets … and transparency … and budgets that are transparent, which would obviously be a good thing considering the poor fiscal management that has plagued the state’s largest city in recent years.
Behind the scenes, though, sources close to both campaigns are going “old school” on each other, trading sophomoric barbs based on things as inconsequential as one candidate’s wardrobe.
No really. When Benjamin announced his candidacy earlier this summer, we got a call from a longtime supporter of Mayor Coble asking us to write a story about the “gangster” pinstripe suit that Benjamin wore for a local TV interview.
A few days later, when we joked about this request to a Benjamin backer, they not only failed to find the humor, but accused Coble of being beholden to Columbia’s “original gangster,” city councilman E.W. Cromartie.
We’ll have to check the record, but we’re pretty sure the word “bitch” was used. Yup … “Cromartie’s bitch.”
Obviously, these pot-shots back-and-forth between supporters of these two candidates do not reflect the current tenor of the debate, but as we get closer to April (that’s right, Columbia elects its Mayors in April) expect the animosity to bubble closer to the surface.
Should be fun!