We got our first inkling of how serious S.C. Rep. Leon Stavrinakis (D-Charleston) is about running for higher office when a top Democratic strategist recently implored us to stop making fun of the lawmaker’s diminutive stature.
“He’s substantive,” the strategist told us. “Those jokes do a disservice to him.”
While we agree that Stavrinakis is smarter than the average lawmaker (editor’s note: not a compliment), we didn’t acquiesce to the request.
“You must be THIS tall to govern this state,” we tweeted derisively shortly after breaking the news that Stavrinakis is actively considering a campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2014.
Wait a minute … isn’t S.C. Sen. Vincent Sheheen pretty much a lock to recapture that nomination? Particularly after he came so close to defeating S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley last November in the “year of the Tea Party?”
That’s certainly what we thought …
“I can tell you right now Vince is not the guy,” one Democratic House member told FITS last week, indicating that Stavrinakis and S.C. Rep. James Smith were both considering mounting a campaign.
Anyway, in defense of our wisecracks Stavrinakis (a.k.a. “Short Stack”) is little – very little. He may not be as small as our state’s resident “Lilliputian Leninist” (a.k.a. S.C. Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman), but he’s tiny.
He’s also a “moderate” Democrat … but what does that really mean? Seriously … in a state where “Republicans in Name Only” run wild that’s not exactly occupying middle ground on the fiscal spectrum, is it?
Nonetheless, Stavrinakis has worked hard to portray himself as a “middle of the roader,” not unlike U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has sought to do under the GOP banner.
“Leon has constantly worked across party lines to improve planning and control growth, pass property tax reform and to fight crime and drugs in our community,” his website notes. “Leon has never voted for an income or property tax increase and has made a name for himself with his effective, bi-partisan leadership style.”
A lawyer from Charleston, Stavrinakis has also emerged as one of Haley’s most vocal opponents in the state legislature – along with fellow Rep. Boyd Brown (D-Winnsboro).
So … does Stavrinakis have a snowball’s chance of ever becoming governor?
Sure … he just needs to grow about a foot (kidding, kidding). In all seriousness, though, a Democrat would have an excellent chance of becoming governor … assuming he or she could summon the courage to occupy fiscal ground to the right of the South Carolina Republican establishment (of which Haley is now a card-carrying member).
Honestly … Republicans grew government by more than $1.3 billion this year, and failed to provide even a nickel’s worth of tax relief to the people of this state.
Democrats can’t find a way to get to the right of that?
Assuming they can’t – expect their losing streak to continue into 2014 and beyond. Assuming they can, Republicans might be in some real trouble.