Politics

Palmetto Political Stock Index: 10/8/2023

Timing is everything …

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Timing is everything in politics, and last week South Carolina senator Wes Climer‘s timing was positively impeccable. The second-term senator from Rock Hill – viewed by many as a potential congressional or statewide candidate – was already in line to be praised by governor Henry McMaster and others for his authorship of legislation eliminating bureaucratic restrictions on health care services in the Palmetto State.

But while Climer was being hailed at a ceremonial bill signing for his pro-free market health care law, he was also confirming speculation regarding his involvement on another key legislative issue. Last Monday (October 2, 2023), Climer acknowledged reports he was planning to filibuster judicial nominations in South Carolina until lawmakers began reforming the notoriously corrupt method by which they choose judges.

Climer’s filibuster threat sent shock waves across the State House. Within twenty-four hours of him confirming his intentions, S.C. speaker of the House Murrell Smith – arguably the most powerful politician in the state – announced the formation of a panel on judicial reform. Smith specifically tasked this panel with coming up with a bill no later than February (which is when lawmakers typically appoint judges).

Was this Newtonian physics at work? You know, actions having equal and opposite reactions? It certainly looked that way …

Ultimately, it turned out this was not a case of post hoc, ergo propter hoc. Smith’s announcement had apparently been in the works for some time … but Climer’s opportune timing briefly made him, not Smith, the most powerful man in the Palmetto State.

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FITSNews founding editor Will Folks and political columnist Mark Powell compile the Palmetto Political Stock Index each week to keep track of such developments. We follow the rising and falling fortunes of individuals and institutions as well as the interplay of state and national politics in our early-voting South Carolina home, host of the quadrennial “First in the South” Republican presidential primary (and the “First in the Nation” Democratic primary).

Got a hot “stock tip” for our consideration? Email Will (here) and/ or Mark (here). Just make sure to include “Palmetto Political Stock Index” in the subject line.

Remember, our index is simply an assessment of how our subjects fared over the past seven days. Positive reports don’t reflect endorsements, and negative ones aren’t indicative of vendettas. We just call ‘em like we see ‘em. Also, just because your favorite/ least favorite politician didn’t wind up on this week’s index doesn’t mean we aren’t still tracking them. Look for them in future reports … and, of course, you can check prior installments to see how we’ve covered them in the past.

To view last week’s index, click here. And to get your historical fix, click here.

Where should you invest your political capital this week? To the index …

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SPEAKER DRAMA

STOCK: RISING

If you didn’t get enough of the Speaker Election Follies last January, you’re in luck. The curtain will rise this week on Follies II: The Sequel. Former speaker Kevin McCarthy’s historic ouster on Tuesday put in motion a frantic and potentially nasty fight to succeed him. It’s possible January’s 15-ballot spectacle may look like a coming attractions teaser compared to what we could see this week.

As of this writing, only two House members have announced they’re seeking the job; more are possible. At the moment, it’s a showdown between Louisiana’s Steve Scalise, a conservative stalwart who was wounded during a mass shooting attack by liberal activist in 2017, and Ohio’s Jim Jordan, judiciary committee chairman and a darling of some hardline Republicans (though his recent accommodations of leadership ruffled some feathers on the Right).

Former president Donald Trump jumped into the race on Friday – endorsing Jordan. Will his imprimatur help or hurt? We’ll find out later this week … or maybe later, depending on just how deep GOP dysfunction runs this go-round.

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NANCY MACE

STOCK: RISING

“I’m taking heat from all sides.”

That may be the understatement of the month. There were audible gasps in the U.S. House chamber when Nancy Mace cast her vote to give McCarthy the boot. She was one of only eight Republicans to do so, and the only GOP member from South Carolina (even McCarthy antagonist and Freedom Caucus favorite Ralph Norman didn’t go that far).

But the end of McCarthy’s tenure as speaker was just the beginning of the fun for Mace. 

While the second-term congresswoman was adept at generating attention – and fundraising – off of her vote, the establishment she turned her back on made it crystal clear there would be consequences. A lengthy spread in Politico detailed the derision, concluding Mace’s vote was “clouding her future in the GOP, not to mention imperiling the status of her relatively competitive seat next year, as scores of angry Republicans mull possible retribution.”

The article was full of brutal attributed and unattributed quotes from House members making it clear Mace was in their crosshairs.

But why? McCarthy won his seat by promising fiscal conservatives things would change when he was speaker: They didn’t. How, exactly, is that Mace’s fault?

What long-term consequences will Mace’s vote carry? It’s too early to tell. But this much is certain: If publicity generation were an Olympic sport, Nancy Mace would be a repeat gold medalist. Already widely known in Washington for being able to put herself at the center of a story, Mace provided another powerful reminder of her media prowess last week. For that reason – her stock is rising.

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HOUSE GOP MAJORITY

STOCK: FALLING

Whoever winds up wielding the speaker’s gavel for the GOP will have some mighty big shoes to fill. Not politically, but financially. And that could put the GOP’s razor-thin House majority in jeopardy.

Whatever he was or wasn’t ideologically, this much is beyond dispute: Kevin McCarthy was a cash cow. He made it rain money. Through the second quarter of 2023, CNN reported the ex-speaker had hauled in a staggering $62.5 million this election cycle: $21.7 million of it in the second quarter alone. Of that, $17.6 million went to the National Republican Congressional Committee. Another $8.3 million was given directly to GOP candidates around the country.

Now the speaker with the Midas touch is gone. Absent the fortune he brought in, could Republicans lose control of the House?

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DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CALENDAR

STOCK: FALLING

Regular members of our audience will recall how the Democratic National Committee (DNC) recently stacked the deck for incumbent president Joe Biden, rearranging its traditional primary calendar and blatantly rigging the schedule in Biden’s favor.

Iowa, site of the first presidential caucuses, and New Hampshire – home of the first presidential primary – were both out. Why? Because they posed the possibility of Biden being humiliated right out of the reelection starting gate. The threat was especially great in New Hampshire, where Dems never cottoned to the incumbent. He scored a dismal 0.22 percent there in 2008 and a tepid 8.36 percent in 2020.

So, both states were stripped of their landmark roles, and South Carolina (which can be reliably counted on to come through for Biden) leapfrogged to the front of the pack.

Both the Iowa and New Hampshire Democratic parties protested. Iowans finally ran up the white flag last week and bowed to Biden’s will. Instead of holding their traditional caucuses, Democrats will meet as planned on January 15 to tend to party business. They will also commence a sketchy caucus-by-mail scheme, with results not being released until March – corresponding with Iowa’s new place in the DNC’s discombobulated primary lineup.

New Hampshire Democrats, on the other hand, are taking a “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” approach. They insist their primary will go on, most likely in February (though a date hasn’t been set yet). The Granite State’s constitution, after all, mandates its primary must be the first in the nation. 

How will this mess ultimately play out? It’s anybody’s guess … but with Biden’s top primary challenger now poised to run as an independent, Democrats appear to have gotten their wish: Another rigged primary.

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VIVEK RAMASWAMY

STOCK: HOLDING

Earlier we mentioned Newtonian physics. Well, Vivek Ramaswamy – the billionaire businessman and anti-Woke crusader – is learning the hard Newtonian truth that what goes up must come down. After enjoying a brief spike in the polls following his appearance in the first GOP debate in August, the air has been slowly but steadily coming out of his presidential campaign ever since.

But it’s not what happened on a debate stage, but rather on the campaign trail last week, that merits concern this week as it pertains to Ramaswamy. 

The incident in question unfolded in Grinnell, Iowa, on Thursday when a vehicle struck the Ford Expedition used by Ramaswamy while stumping in the Hawkeye State. Thankfully, no one was injured in the crash.

What precipitated the incident? Here things get a bit murky …

Ramaswamy claimed his vehicle was intentionally rammed by protestors who were upset over his opposition to aid for Ukraine – protesters who quickly fled the scene. His campaign said earlier that day it had encountered protestors who “laid on the horn, flipped off staff, and screamed expletives.”

Grinnell police told a different story. They cited a 22-year-old woman who had just finished lunch at a nearby deli. According to the woman, she wasn’t protesting anything and was merely backing out of her parking space when she unintentionally struck the Expedition across the street. She claimed she had no idea who was using it. And, the cops added, she did not flee the scene.

What really happened? Beats us. But here we are talking about Ramaswamy – as well as funding for an increasingly unpopular proxy war in Europe – which is exactly what his campaign wanted.

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JOE BIDEN

STOCK: HOLDING

It was a mixed bag for the incumbent president last week. First, his administration remained hellbent on eliminating as much college loan debt as it could get away with. This time, it did an end-run around the U.S. supreme court’s ruling earlier this year by erasing an estimated $9 billion owed by 125,000 borrowers.

Next, Biden announced – or rather acknowledged – his administration was moving forward with the construction of a border wall in South Texas. After making a big show of saying he didn’t approve the wall, Biden lamely tried to claim he was stuck with it because Congress wouldn’t reallocate its funding.

Needless to say, Trump pounced on his former (future?) rival flip-flopping on a signature issue of the 2020 campaign.

“Has he apologized to me yet?” Trump wrote on his Truth Social page.

There was some good news for the White House on Friday when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 336,000 new jobs in September. This unexpected burst of positivity helped the Dow shoot up nearly 300 points – although as this news outlet reported last month, these numbers aren’t always as good as they seem

Next came Saturday’s bombshell: Hamas’ massive – and totally unexpected – sneak attack on Israel. This 5,000-rocket barrage stunned the world – revealing Israel’s much-vaunted (and American-funded) “Iron Dome” defense system didn’t work. The result? At least 300 Israelis dead, 1,600 wounded and an unknown number of citizens and soldiers taken hostage.

With the Mideast suddenly in flames, Biden responded with a strongly worded show of support for the Jewish state. With that pronouncement, though, he created a brand new political problem for himself.

While polling shows most Americans still support Israel in the ongoing Middle Eastern conflicts, the gap has narrowed considerably in recent years. And most of the new support for Palestine is coming from within the Democratic electorate.

Should this new conflict devolve into a protracted affair – like the war in Ukraine – Biden will have an incredibly delicate juggling act on his hands. That’s another less than less-than-ideal situation for any candidate heading into the heart of primary season.

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NATIONAL PARKS IN DRAG

STOCK: FALLING

There’s so much insanity parading through America these days it’s hard to cover it all. But we can’t let this week’s report end without calling your attention to an especially strange bit of bizarreness.

Joe Biden’s interior secretary Deb Haaland saw fit last week to appear in a video alongside a National Park ranger in drag. No, seriously. Not only was it produced on your dime (as taxpayers), but the secretary shared it nationally in a tweet.

In the clip, Haaland is shown standing alongside a transgender activist who goes by the name Patty Gonia outside the Stonewall National Monument in New York City. After Haaland tossed an underhanded softball question to get the ball rolling, Gonia (a.k.a. Wyn Wiley) went on a diatribe about how “queer rights are more under attack than ever.”

“Disturbing” is how one observer put it. “Seriously messed up,” was the blunter assessment of another. Watch it and decide for yourself …

As this news outlet has said many times before, what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes is none of our business – and certainly none of the government’s business. And as citizens, people have every right to support or oppose issues as they see fit. However, when the federal government pushes an agenda — at taxpayers’ expense, no less — to curry the favor of a group that’s important to the ruling party’s political support going into reelection mode, it quickly becomes everyone’s business.

So, where do we go to get our money back?

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6 comments

Today’s GQP October 8, 2023 at 11:13 am

Too bad Hamas had a nice little trip to Moscow, leading up to their attack on Israel. And Hamas was using their material support from Russia’s partner in the invasion of Ukraine, Iran, to carry out the attack.

Looks like after losing the support of our military, Republicans will be torn over whether they still support Israel or their master, Putin.

Reply
John October 8, 2023 at 6:39 pm

Just like Israeli society being preoccupied with the shenanigans of their right-wing politicians allowed Hamas to make a surprise terror attack, the Republican Party’s traitorous shenanigans in the Senate and Congress are opening the United States up to a terror attack.

Republicans actively work to make our Country look weak and ripe for attacking from our enemies, like Iran and China, when they aren’t working with Russia.

Reply
Bob October 8, 2023 at 1:54 pm

Caught Nancy’s embarrassing interview where she played dumb about the allegations Jim Jordan covered-up sexual abuse at the collegiate wrestling program where he was a coach.

She looked stupider than usual. She’s just floundering around trying to play both sides of the GQP civil war and it’s pathetic.

And for Vevek….maybe Nancy can help him hunt down all these imaginary antifa vandals running around in deep red states.

Republican can’t help but lie every time they open their mouths.

Reply
Used Soul Salesman October 9, 2023 at 10:41 am

You have to imagine what it must feel like to cover for Gym Jordan of all people and not feel your skin crawl.

Nancy seems to have the right amount of soullessness to be a good GOP politician.

Reply
J Monday Top fan October 9, 2023 at 7:42 am

Thoughts-1. Hats off to Nancy Mace & Co for helping to remove McCarthy. There will be another cash cow & hopefully not one entrenched in the GOP establishment. DC does not lack for cash cows on both sides of the isle, which is part of why it is a swamp.
2. The only way Biden wins re-election is to cheat & rig. Just like 2020.
3. The Left has gone so far left, they are losing support within their own party.
4. We need to pray for & support Israel.

Reply
Allen Bowers Top fan October 9, 2023 at 3:02 pm

Mace has never met a camera she did not like—from the one in the backseat of the family car while traveling from Goose Creek to The Citadel on matriculation day(for a segment of CBS’s 48 Hours) to Sunday’s appearance. To set the record straight though, she was the first undergraduate female to have been a member of the Corps of Cadets to receive a diploma, but the first female member to spend her entire four years as a member of The Citadel Corps of Cadets was Petra Lovetinska. When she graduated, she wanted to make a career in the USMC (which she has successfully done) but faced the problem of not being a US citizen. No problem—by a special act of Congress, she became the 5th person ever to be granted immediate citizenship, joining Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa, Raoul Wallenberg, and William Penn. Our country needs leaders like her—not publicity-seeking politicians.

Reply

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