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Rural SC Mayor To Challenge Richard Eckstrom?



S.C. Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom’s personal life is an ongoing disaster. More importantly, he is failing miserably in his obligations to South Carolina taxpayers.

Accordingly, it’s not at all surprising we are starting to hear rumors of candidates eyeing his seat …

One name we’ve been hearing quite frequently in connection with a possible bid against Eckstrom? Hartsville, S.C. mayor Mel Pennington.

Pennington was one of the leading contenders for the recently created South Carolina seventh congressional district two years ago, but he opted out of running because his wife was undergoing treatment for breast cancer and one of his daughters was suffering from complications related to a life-threatening heart defect.

Obviously that would have been a bad time to announce for public office … well, unless your name is John Edwards.

Anyway, our sources tell us Pennington’s wife and daughter have completely recovered – prompting him to take inventory of his political prospects.

What are those prospects? Well, were he to decide to challenge Eckstrom in the 2014 Republican primary election we’d say his prospects would be pretty good.

Eckstrom raised just over $4,000 during the first quarter of 2013, according to his campaign finance disclosure forms. He has a little more than $57,000 on hand in his campaign war chest. That’s a pretty paltry sum for a statewide elected official, people – particularly seeing as Eckstrom is one of five votes on the powerful S.C. Budget and Control Board (SCBCB), a quasi-legislative, quasi-executive administrative agency that handles a broad swath of state government’s executive functions.

Pennington, on the other hand, has family money – as well as what one source described as a “huge donor base” to tap should he decide to enter the race.

We don’t know much about Pennington other than a few tweets he’s exchanged with our founding editor, but he seems like a nice guy. And obviously at this point pretty much anybody would be better than Eckstrom.

Of course were Pennington to announce his candidacy, one of the first things he would need to do to earn our support would be to publicly call for the elimination of the SCBCB Рand to come out in favor of a constitutional amendment making his office an appointed position in the future. Both of these reforms would help end the splintered executive authority that currently exists in the Palmetto State Рone of many reasons our state is so dysfunctional.


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