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The SC Senate’s New Swing Vote

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As we’ve noted on repeated occasions there is a contingent of “Republicans” in the South Carolina Senate that habitually join Democrats in support of all manner of big government boondoggling … while opposing all manner of tax relief and free market reforms.

It’s been this way for years, which is why the first decade of “Republican” control of the Senate was an unmitigated disaster for the people of South Carolina.

That’s the bad news. The good news? Times are getting tough for the self-serving collation of liberal RINOs and far-left democrats who control the budget process in this self termed “Republican” state.

Over the last two days, the floor debate in the Senate has shown that powerful finance chairman Hugh Leatherman (the Democrat-turned command-and-control “Republican”) and his political machine are loosing grip their once reliable majority when it comes to forcing a massive pork laden omnibus spending bill down the throats of the state’s taxpayers.

With longtime liberal Billy O’Dell (RINO-Abbeville) sidelined by illness and an emerging crop of fiscal conservatives (and pragmatists) aligning there is essentially a one-vote margin for the big spenders….

The emerging swing vote: Thomas Alexander … a “Republican” from Oconee County in the rural Palmetto Upstate.

In years past Alexander has been a remarkably reliable “Leatherite” (or ally of Leatherman), but he was merely one of the crowd. For example just last year he crossed the aisle to stand with Democrats and a few intransigent RINOs against taxpayer rebates – a staple GOP plan to send money back to those families and businesses who create wealth, rather than letting politicians dole out the so-called “surplus” to their local apparatnix and hangers-on.

Alexander also led the charge to keep tax dollars flowing into a favored Edgefield-based charity (Women in Unity), rather than letting taxpayers send their own money to the causes and nonprofits of their choosing.

However as the circle closes on Leatherman’s loyal “RINOcracy,” politicians like Alexander who have operated under the radar for years are beginning to show their true colors – out of necessity. Earlier this week, Alexander waded into the battle to keep yet another charity on the taxpayer teat: The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition. While we’re sure this is a wonderful (and profitable) venture – in no universe can it be considered a core function of government. Acknowledging this, Alexander initially voted to remove its budget allocation – but he later went on to cast the deciding vote to approve the appropriation.

This sort of flip-flop – particularly in the content of the razor slim majorities that characterize the budget debate so far – is going to hurt Alexander. Badly. How do we know this? Because our founding editor runs one of the groups that’s going to hurt him.

Alexander has to know he is exposed on the home front. He is a Democrat who dawned a “R” beside his name to keep his seat. His electorate – the GOP primary voters in particular – are becoming increasingly aware that their Senator is really a Barack Obama Democrat in disguise.

And speaking of policies in which Alexander and Obama are aligned, another tight vote took place in late April in the State Senate on the issue of school choice. Republicans in every southern state (and the S.C. House) have now passed some form of private school choice. Across Oconee – which acounts for the bulk of Alexander’s district – Obama pulled in less that 28 percent of the vote last November.

Unfortunately, Alexander was part of the two-vote margin that tabled a pro-parent, pro-student choice amendment. The other aisle crosser? The aforementioned Billy O’Dell – whose illness has removed him from the current debate.

In other words, this issue – like so many other contentious budget disputes – boils down to Alexander. Unless he sees the light, he will head home to a very right-of-center district having adopted the Obama position on school choice: denying lower and middle income families the right to chose private schools when the local government schools aren’t serving their children.

At the end of this week, this RINO will make one of two choices: Either he will have either read the handwriting on the wall and chosen to return to his district as a praised reformer and committed pro-taxpayer vote, or he will bend over for Leatherman and his fellow liberals and invite the bloodiest GOP primary campaign this state has ever seen.

The choice is yours, Senator Alexander. And make no mistake, the people of South Carolina will be watching how you vote – ready to praise you if you do right, and hold you accountable if you do wrong.

So choose wisely …

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Pic: Travis Bell Photography

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