LOTS AT STAKE IN COLUMBIA SC MUNICIPAL RUNOFF
|| By TAYLOR BROWN || If you listen to commercial radio in Columbia, S.C. you have probably heard local attorney I. S. Leevy Johnson shilling for mayor Steve Benjamin‘s chosen city council candidates.
Evidently Benjamin’s organization, which has gone all in for candidates Aaron Bishop and Andy Smith, has figured out that if the mayor cannot replace his pocket vote, Brian DeQuincey Newman, it will be very hard for him to continue pushing through his pet projects and upping the spending for the mayor’s office.
The current worry, according to a source familiar with the situation at City Hall, is that anti-Benjamin candidate Howard Duvall has the city-wide race sewn up, making Smith a “zombie candidate.” Candidly, Duvall has put out some of the worst, most poorly designed mail-pieces I have ever seen. Were his consultants trying to make him appear as a pasty, old angry white man? If so, nice work.
I am supporting Duvall. In fact I met him on Main Street last week and wished him good luck.
It is also beginning to look like newcomer Reverend Ed McDowell may pull out the city’s second district race. This would mean that the gravy train for Benjamin and his cronies would be cut off.
Which brings me to the real point of this election: For Benjamin, the mayorship was always just a stepping stone toward his real goal of replacing U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn. Benjamin and his handlers now see that this election could be the beginning of the end for his congressional aspirations. With a working council that is suspicious of the mayor and his motives – and able to vote down his silly and wasteful projects – the voters may begin to see “Mayorhood” for the disaster he is.
Back to Johnson, though. A local trial lawyer and funeral home entrepreneur, this former lawmaker is a principal in the firm of Johnson, Toal and Battiste. One of the other principals, Luther Battiste, was a former city councilman. Meanwhile William Toal is the husband of S.C. Supreme Court justice Jean Toal.
Like many ex-politicians or individuals with familial ties to the powerful and prominent, they are trading on their public service and connections to cash in. For the cash to continue, though, they need Benjamin in office.
Dear voters, if you care about the future of our city you should vote for Duvall and McDowell. The choice is simple: Keep Benjamin’s gravy train rolling – or vote in some new people who are willing to take a long, hard look before the city spends money it doesn’t have on wasteful projects.
Taylor Brown is a 20-something Wofford College graduate who somehow got sucked into politics at an early age. She is easily won over with Rush’s fast food, wine, and spirited political arguments.