The legalization of gambling in South Carolina – particularly in the state’s tourism-heavy coastal regions – is a no-brainer. Well … to everyone except the far religious right (centered in the state’s “Republican” Upstate) and politicians of both parties who continue to kowtow to this withering constituency.
Permitting casinos on the coast would be a boon to the state’s economy – unleashing a flood of jobs and capital investment. Such a move would also provide an opportunity (assuming our greedy leaders could restrain their appetite for government growth) to provide long-overdue income tax relief to individuals and small businesses (or relief to tourists from oppressively high sales tax rates along the coast).
Again, it’s a no-brainer for those who believe in individual liberty and free markets – and who want to see the Palmetto State begin to develop competitive advantages as opposed to continuing to fall further behind the rest of the nation.
Anyway, upset with the lack of support the gambling issue is receiving from both the GOP and Democratic establishments – and the outright hostility S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley has shown to casinos – supporters of legalization are reportedly contemplating another approach.
Their idea? A credible, well-funded third party 2014 gubernatorial bid – one advancing a specific statewide economic plan built around the legalization of coastal casinos (and possibly other forms of gambling).
“We have our candidate,” one source familiar with the effort tells FITS. “Now it is about getting the policy right.”
Pro-gambling candidates in South Carolina are nothing new. In fact one ran – and lost (badly) – in the 2006 Democratic gubernatorial primary. However public support for legalization is on the rise – especially if the issue is limited to coastal casinos.
Does a third party pro-gambling candidate have a prayer?
Of course not. Let’s assume for the moment the candidate is an attractive, eloquent advocate running on a sensible center or center-right economic plan – and has $1 million to spend on his or her effort. Even under such optimal circumstances, it’s hard to imagine a campaign like that garnering more than 5-7 percent of the statewide vote.
Also, it’s unclear whether that 5-7 percent would come out of the hide of Haley or S.C. Senator Vincent Sheheen – the presumed Democratic gubernatorial nominee.
That’s not the point, though.
“This is about moving a different set of numbers – and (identifying) a different set of voters,” our pro-gambling source said.
So … who is the candidate?
Our sources were tight-lipped, saying only it was a “credible figure” in the coastal community who has “extensive political experience.”
Hmmmm … we’ll be sure to keep our readers in the loop as we learn more about this novel new candidacy.