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THE FIRST INSTALLMENT OF OUR LONG-AWAITED LIST

FITSNews – August 22, 2008 – It ain’t “the list” itself … but as was the case last year, there are a lot of people who belong on the forthcoming “Palmetto Power 100” whose names somehow ended up getting left out.

What can we say, people, our founding editor is a frequent “brain farter.” Not to mention a frequent regular farter, as well.

Anyway, get a jump start on “Palmetto Power 100 fever” by checking out our honorable (and a few dishonorable) mentions by clicking the “more” link at the end of this sentence …

Oh, these are in no particular order and we’ll be updating this list throughout the day … so feel free to check back often …

Sara Hopper – Lobbyist, S.C. Manufacturers Alliance

Did your efforts bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in capital investment to your home state last year? And did you look “train smoke” hot while doing it? We didn’t think so – Hopper rolls with the big boys, people. Strong.

Wendy Homeyer – National Federation of Independent Businesses

By virtue of her position alone, Homeyer definitely should have made our list. Of course, we’re not convinced she can be a genuine advocate for South Carolina’s small businesses given her previous subservience to big government RINO Bobby Harrell. In fact, she’s going to have to pull a complete ideological U-turn if she expects to pull this one off, or else NFIB will become another tax-and-spend shell like the utterly worthless S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce.

BJ Boling – VP, Starboard Communications

Boling’s firm had an off-year, but he’s still one of the smartest young conservative consultants out there. Plus, he’s hitched his star to one of the state’s rising powers (Rep. Nikki Haley) while at the same time handling campaign duties for several old-guarders who will be prominently featured on our upcoming list. Oh, and did we mention that BJ was the one guy the S.C. McCain camp stuck with (and vice versa) when the GOP nominee seemed on the verge of dropping out of the presidential race last year?

Jason Zacher – House GOP Caucus

We honestly can’t think of anybody who doesn’t like Jason. He’s trusted, smart and has a knack for translating insider issues into easily understandable language with mass appeal. Along with fellow young media massager Greg Foster, he’s given the House of Representatives a communications presence like it’s never had before. Of course Zacher and Foster never had to go up against Sic Willie and Chris Drummond.

Drea Byers, Sunny Phillips – GOP fundraisers

People who dial for dollars never go out of fashion. These two Republican moneybabes will always wield clout given their expansive contact lists. Hell, Sunny’s shoe selection alone makes us want to stroke a check right now – or stroke something.

Mrs. Sic Willie – Saint

You might think our founding editor imposes his will on the world around him, but you should see how fast his arrogant, sarcastic tail tucks between his legs the second Mrs. Sic so much as bats a disapproving eye. Forget “wearing the pants” we’re not even sure Sic has any underwear on.

Larry Martin (RINO) – Senate Rules Chairman

Unfortunately, our list already had too many Larrys on it to include Senator Martin. Plus, he’s from Pickens County, which is 100% illiterate. Knowing this, how can he even read the Senate rules? Let alone use them to accomplish his leftist, big government ends? Still, a lot of people seem to thing Martin’s kind of a big deal, so we hope all those people are sated by an honorable mention.

Charles Reid and Jeff Gossett – House and Senate Clerks

Both of these guys have way more juice than we give them credit for, and probably should have been on our list. They’ve got the ear of legislative leadership and are go-to players under the dome, and just because they lack a public profile doesn’t mean they don’t have a tremendous impact on public policy.

The “Young Guns” S.C. House Common Sense Caucus

Losing strong fiscal conservatives Mick Mulvaney and Phil Shoopman to the Senate is a blow, but State Reps. Jeff Duncan, Garry Smith, Eric Bedingfield, Nathan Ballentine and the rest of the “Common Sense” caucus more than recouped their losses with conservative winners in the summer primaries. These are the legislative leaders of tomorrow, people, and with each election their power grows.

Bernie Groseclose and Bill Stern – State Ports Authority

We’ll call these two dim bulbs “dishonorable mentions.” Seriously, anybody who does as crappy a job as Stern or Groseclose and doesn’t get sh*t-canned must have some serious pull. South Carolina has squandered its greatest competitive asset thanks to these two Stalinists, but somehow they’re still hanging around. We do have to give the SPA’s lobbyist Barbara Melvin a shout-out, though. Polishing these two turds can’t be easy.

Cam Crawford – S.C. Civil Justice Coaltion

It’s only because of a total pooch-screw on our part that Cam didn’t make our list. He totally should have. Almost single-handedly, this one die-hard, pro-business solider has beaten back the devilish Claimant Attorneys and Trial Lawyers seeking to further gut our state’s competitive position. A potent State House presence, Crawford is also a skilled communicator for his client, turning the complicated issues of tort reform and workers’ comp reform into easily-digestible mass messages. Definitely a rising force for positive change in this state.

Trav Roberston – Barack Obama S.C. Campaign Manager

Along with former blogger Laurin Manning, Trav is a top young Democratic operative in position to clean up given his Obama connection. A veteran of several statewide efforts, the electoral math hasn’t been on his side in recent years, but Republican ineptitude and fiscal recklessness is slowly changing that. If Obama can pull a miracle here, Trav will be ‘da man in November sort of like Anton Gunn (keep reading for his capsule) was ‘da man in January.

Steve Brook – News Editor, La Socialista

Steve doesn’t have quite the pull he once did given the rise of the blogs and his paper’s shrinking readership, but he still decides what gets printed every day in The State newspaper, which is definitely something. Plus he’s married to former gubernatorial spokes-babe Nina Brook, who somehow manages to ignore the fact that he has the personality of a cactus.

Ian Leslie – Lowcountry Economic Network

A one-man wrecking crew as the Beaufort Gazette’s city editor and top feature writer, Leslie recently took a position with the Lowcountry Economic Network, which means he’ll not only be making money for a change but applying his prodigious talents to an up-and-coming organization in an up-and-coming corner of the state.

Neil Mellen – Communications Director, SCRG

The typical “communications director” in this state is either a testosterone-fueled blowhard with an itching inferiority complex or a gabby blonde bimbette who never quite cut the cord from the sorority house. New South Carolinians for Responsible Government (SCRG) spokesman Neil Mellen is the precise opposite. Mellen is as substantive and straight-forward a spinner as you’ll find, and he’s currently churning out some of the most dead-on research and analysis of our state’s utterly-failed education system that we’ve ever seen, just as he did previously for the S.C. Policy Council. Mellen’s work is also becoming a fixture on the state’s political blogs, which are increasingly driving the debate within the halls of power in Columbia.

Dave Wilson – Blogger, Pulse of Columbia

We actually have three “new media moguls” on our forthcoming Top 100 list, but it’s doubtful any of them are having quite the impact on the government they’re covering as The Pulse, which has pretty much made the City of Columbia its bitch over the past year. Wilson has exposed a wealth of waste and corruption in the capital city, prompting the local liberal fish-wrapper to go to great lengths in exposing him. That’s power, and Wilson wields his with a sharp wit and keen wisdom belying his youthfulness.

Kristi Harrington – Circuit Court Judge

Everybody we spoke with said a first-term circuit court judge didn’t belong on our Top 100, let alone the “honorable mentions,” but the fact is Harrington isn’t your typical circuit court judge. She’s “wonder woman,” people. Not only ridonkulously hot in her robe, she’s tough as nails in it, too, already earning the nickname “handcuff Harrington” for her no-nonsense brand of dispensing justice. Plus, she’s incredibly well-liked and well-connected in Columbia and seen by many conservatives as a rising star in the judiciary.

Curtis Brantley – State Representative

The liberal education establishment in South Carolina launched an all-out blitzkrieg to defeat Brantley in 2008 given the fact that he is one of the few black Democrats currently on the record in support of school choice. Guess what – he flat smoked that ass, winning reelection over a former Representative in a major landslide. Brantley’s win sent perhaps the biggest message of them all in the 2008 primaries – you can be a black Democrat, support school choice and survive.

Anton Gunn – Soon-to-be State Representative

It seems everything Anton Gunn touches these days turns to gold. The undisputed architect of Barack Obama’s shellacking of Hillary Clinton in South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary, Gunn is a virtual lock to enter the House of Representatives next year and is without question the Democratic Party’s golden boy this election cycle. A former Gamecock football player and seasoned State House insider, Gunn was featured in Time magazine this week. That’s right, Time magazine.

Glenn McCall – GOP National Committeeman

Although it won’t have the same impact as another historic African-American addition to the Republican Party (which you’ll read about in our Top 100), Glenn McCall’s selection as national committeeman is still a big deal. What people forget, though, is that McCall has been a force in this state long before he decided to run for this post. We’re just glad he’s finally gotten some of the visibility he deserves.

Jim Harrison – House Judiciary Chairman

After taking it on the chin during the Supreme Court bar exam scandal, Jim Harrison regained quite a bit of credibility by running point during the 2008 immigration debate, giving him a public platform to complement his coveted insider perch as Judiciary Chairman. With Murrell Smith starting to emerge as a force alongside him, Harrison’s position has been steadily improving since losing the Speaker’s race three years ago. And after Bobby’s complete and total bust in the top spot, we’re sure a lot of people are wishing they’d voted for Harrison.

John Kittredge – Supreme Court Justice

You know we practically get this guy elected to the bench and he doesn’t so much as give us a phone call to say “Thanks?” Sheesh – what do the FITS gals have to do to get some love around here? Anyway, Kittredge is a conservative on the S.C. Supreme Court, which prior to his election was considered a logical impossibility.

Bud Light – Anheuser Busch

As one politico put it to us, “Bud Light is the true power broker in this town.”

Ashley Cooper – Charleston Attorney

What can we say, he’s already got two rivers named after him in Charleston – seriously, though, if this kid decides to get serious about politics (we know he’s got an itch), then we could easily see him turning that pretty boy lawyer thing into electoral gold. Democrats need credible candidates, and Cooper’s wealth and connections make him the “Joe Erwin” of the Lowcountry.

Thomas Ravenel – Former State Treasurer

He’s disgraced, in jail and can’t run for office again – at least not for fifteen years or something – but that doesn’t mean T-Rav is totally powerless. He’s still a multi-millionaire who has his heart set on advancing conservative ideas – and people not only still believe in him, they have an amazing capacity to forgive. Expect a slow burn on this under the circumstances, but Thomas will be back in some way, shape or form before it’s all said and done. Too many powerful people are in his corner for the long haul.

Earl Capps – Lowcountry Blogger, Consultant

Another new media presence from the backwoods of the Lowcountry, Earl likes to joke that he’s on the FBI’s “least wanted” list. And to be honest, we pegged him for blog irrelevancy as well until he proved us wrong with a steady dose of informed political commentary and exclusive interviews with some of the state’s top power pols. Earl’s got a lot of pull in local races, and even though he briefly sold out to the education establishment during the last election cycle, we’ve still got high hopes he’ll get back on board the change caravan before it’s over.

Rod Shealy, Jr. – Political Consultant

His dad is a fixture on our Power 100 list, and if “RJ” keeps winning races at his current clip he’ll soon be as well. A spitting image of his father, the younger Shealy is quickly emerging as a go-to player himself, even defeating his prodigious papa in a recent local election.

Paul Campbell – State Senator

He doesn’t get the headlines that many of his colleagues receive, but our sources tell us that Campbell was one of the more influential freshman in the State Senate this year. He’s got tremendously influential backers, as well, although the jury is still out as to whether or not he’s a force for change or more of the failed status quo.

Bakari Sellers – State Representative

We’re not even sure this first-term Democrat can legally drink yet, but he’s already a State Representative. Seriously, is this guy even eighteen years old? Anyway, Sellers’ maturity and grasp of “the game” has been a pleasant surprise coming from someone so young, but he needs to broaden his ideology beyond the “mo money, mo problems” approach that black Democrats have historically endorsed if he wants to make a real mark on Columbia.

Nancy Mace – FITS gal

You’ve heard of Mande and Polly, but Nancy is the undisputed behind-the-scenes power at FITSNews. The first woman to graduate from the Citadel, she’s almost single-handedly turned our little outfit from the freakish ramblings of a demented madman into vast online empire you see today. She’s one of the most highly sought-after new media advisors in the Southeast, people, and an emerging consultant to some of the Palmetto State’s most influential advocacy groups.

Again, we’ll be updating this throughout the day so be sure to keep hitting your “refresh” button like the addict you know you are!