“DARK MONEY” BATTLE FOR CONTROL OF STATE HOUSE RATCHETS UP
S.C. governor Nikki Haley traveled to the Palmetto Upstate this week to sign so-called “ethics reform” legislation with State Senator Larry Martin.
Accordingly, our guess is her endorsement will do about as much to help Martin as her “ethics” law will do to help stem the tide of corruption in South Carolina.
Which is to say very little …
What could conceivably help Martin in his reelection bid, though? The ongoing unmasking of those supporting Rex Rice – his opponent in next week’s “Republican” runoff election for S.C. Senate District 2 (map here).
To be clear: This website’s founding editor Will Folks supported Rice in his petition bid for this seat four years ago – albeit unenthusiastically. Rice was, in the words of one of our recent editorials, “the lesser of two evils” in that election. We’ve never had much use for Martin – although is record has improved in recent years.
Also, we continue to support the tens of thousands of dollars of “dark money” flowing into this district – although we’ve since learned this influx of cash has nothing to do with this race (and everything to do with a power struggle in Columbia, S.C.).
Bottom line? Powerful special interests in Columbia, S.C. – who appear to be affiliated with the neo-Confederate political empire of “Republican” consultant Richard Quinn – want to oust Martin so that another former Democrat, S.C. Senator Luke Rankin, can take over as chairman of the powerful Senate judiciary committee.
That’s right … this race isn’t about Pickens county, it’s about replacing one liberal with another in a State Senate leadership position.
And those looking to make the switch are sparing no expense …
In addition to a major, multi-station television buy, the pro-Rankin … err, pro-Rice forces … have reportedly invested in a major grassroots effort. This is said to include “a cadre of two dozen or so paid minions/canvassers, each of whom (are) earning $250 per day going door-to-door in the district.”
“They are raising the issue of the Confederate flag, the Second Amendment and abortion,” a source familiar with the grassroots push told us.
What issue are they not raising? The fact their advocacy would benefit a Senator who is every bit as liberal on each of those issues as Martin (more liberal on the gun issue, in fact).
Anyway, how much is the effort costing? It’s not immediately clear. Unlike television buys, grassroots expenditures are not as easy to track – especially through third party groups.
We reached out to a noted Palmetto political consultant and asked him for his thoughts on the price tag.
“I do not see how they are doing it for less than $20,000,” the advisor told us. “If you count transportation, food and lodging, wages, printing and voter targeting – that’s a conservative estimate.”
Will this big money push prove decisive? We’ll find out next Tuesday …