SC Politics

Palmetto Political Stock Index – 4/2/2024

Where should you invest your political capital this week?

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As this index was being compiled, U.S. president Joe Biden was in the midst of a major meltdown on Easter – or as his administration rechristened the holiest of holidays, ‘Transgender Visibility Day.’

After alienating Christians with his tone deaf proclamation, Biden proceeded to piss off the “brave” trans crowd he intended to honor by – get this – denying that he issued the proclamation in the first place!

Another senior moment? Or is Biden unaware of the woke propaganda being put out in his name?

Needless to say, Biden’s stock is tanking this week – but former president Donald Trump‘s stock isn’t faring much better. Trump had to pony up $175 million in bond money this week in connection with a massive $454 million judgment entered against him in a civil fraud case in New York. Trump previously had to post a $92 million bond in connection with a civil defamation judgment entered against him.

And none of that even covers the legal bills …

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Over the past year, our founding editor Will Folks and political columnist Mark Powell have been monitoring political developments impacting the ‘First in the South’ presidential primary via our Palmetto Political Stock Index.  With primary season now in the rearview, our index is focusing more intently on statewide developments.

As previously noted, each installment is an assessment of how our subjects fared over the previous week. Positive reports don’t reflect endorsements, and negative ones aren’t (necessarily) indicative of vendettas. We just call ‘em like we see ‘em.

To view the most recent index, click here. And to get your historical fix, click here.

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.

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ALAN WILSON

STOCK: HOLDING

Four-term attorney general Alan Wilson remains comfortably ensconced in the political catbird seat these days. He continues taking the lead on several high-profile national issues that resonate here in South Carolina – and beyond. For example, he’s spearheading a 22-state coalition of his colleagues in support of Texas’ tough illegal immigration bill as it winds its way through the federal courts. 

He also led a similar 26-state push for passage of the Laken Riley Act, which would have required the feds to detain any illegal alien committing larceny, burglary, theft, or shoplifting offenses. (The Democratic-controlled upper chamber blocked it.).

Wilson is also invoking Riley’s memory in pushing prosecutors and judges to stop the “catch and release” of violent criminals – including the denial of bond for illegal aliens who commit crimes.

But Wilson’s rising profile is being noticed by the folks who work next door at the State House. We’re hearing increasing chatter that state lawmakers – many of whom are eying the governor’s office in 2026 – have ramped up their scrutiny of Wilson’s office in recent weeks. Rumors persist they will be paying even closer attention to it in the near future.

At the same time, newsrooms have noticed an uptick in the number of press releases sent by Wilson. While most are germane to the attorney general’s duties, others have journalists scratching their heads. Consider the headline on this one sent just last Friday: “Attorney General Alan Wilson reminds everyone to call 811 before you dig.”

Seriously? It’s nice the attorney general doesn’t want anyone to be accidentally electrocuted, but is that message essential to the duties of the state’s top lawyer? 

Wilson remains actively at the forefront of a slew of legal issues that matter to South Carolinians, and for that, he deserves credit. He remains popular with much of the GOP base as well. He’s widely viewed as a formidable challenger for whatever office he chooses to seek next. His opponents, both inside and out of state government, are aware of that, too, and are now casting wary glances his way. Which is why his stock is holding for this week.

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ADAM MORGAN

STOCK: RISING

Taking on an incumbent congressman is no small task. Taking on one with personal wealth that could rival all the gold in Fort Knox is even more daunting. Yet the Upstate’s Adam Morgan is charging into the fray with boundless enthusiasm.

The state representative and chair of the new SC Freedom Caucus is going after scandal-tainted fourth district Congressman William Timmons with gusto. It’s not just that Timmons’ disastrous personal life (which he made public with his unsolicited outreach to the news site nearly two years ago) isn’t playing well in the most evangelical Christian corner of the state. His playing footsie under the table with anti-conservative forces is coming to light, too.

For example, Morgan skillfully called attention to a video Timmons made in which he not only paid homage to the socially destructive DEI movement but also promised to promote it in Washington. Again, not a good look in the state’s most GOP-rich district.

Morgan is also making voters aware that Timmons is essentially using their tax dollars to pay for his reelection bid through government-sponsored billboards and mass mailings – all while touting his fiscal “conservatism.”

But nobody in Morgan’s campaign is ready to pop the cork on celebratory champagne bottles yet. Timmons recently scored Donald Trump’s endorsement. And let’s not forget, the congressman can pull out his checkbook, put down “Pay to the Order of Me,” and then write zeroes until his hand cramps. That’s not to be taken lightly …

Still, reports on the ground suggest Morgan is slowly but steadily chipping away at Timmons’ base – and earlier this week the two candidates received decidedly different reactions at a packed Greenville GOP gathering.

Morgan was cheered following his inspiring address to the party faithful, while Timmons was booed when he took the dais and immediately started spewing venom.

Will Morgan’s momentum be enough to topple Timmons from his perch on Capitol Hill? We’ll find out on June 11.

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MURRELL SMITH

STOCK: RISING

This news outlet hasn’t always said the nicest of things about S.C. House speaker Murrell Smith. When he gets something wrong (which is often), we call him out. But the opposite also holds true. When Smith gets something right, he deserves praise – and the energy bill Smith shepherded through the House last week is certainly something worth praising.

Smith’s legislation – which is now before the Senate – would establish specific timelines for the S.C. Public Service Commission (SCPSC) and other permitting agencies to rule on applications for all future energy projects. It would also establish a streamlined process by which all future appeals went straight to the S.C. supreme court – which, incidentally, is where they would wind up anyway.

As we noted in our coverage, “this sort of permitting reform will save time and money.” Which is why we’ve supported it at both the state and federal level.

More importantly, expanded power generation is critical for South Carolina’s grid – which was pushed to its breaking point just fifteen months ago.

Smith also resisted a push by eco-radicals to insert costly green subsidies into the bill – money which would have come directly out of the pockets of consumers. While Smith’s bill has yet to be taken up by the Senate, the speaker’s stock is rising for getting it through his chamber …

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SC ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS

STOCK: FALLING

The newly aforementioned energy bill that cleared the S.C. House was more than just a personal victory for House Speaker Smith. It was also a stinging rebuke for the Conservation Voters of South Carolina (CVSC). To the uninitiated, this group’s benign-sounding name masks a decidedly left-of-center agenda.

CVSC went all out in opposition to the House energy bill – using a flood of yet-to-be-disclosed resources in support of its efforts.

Who was pushing this failed green agenda in the Palmetto State? We may be on the verge of finding out …

With the partisan primary season upon us, CVSC is expected to dramatically ramp up its liberal voice using funds from its mysterious left-of-center benefactor. In fact, we already know of at least one negative mail piece attacking a conservative GOP legislative candidate in the Upstate that hit mailboxes there last week.

But you’ve got to wonder if that’s money well spent. Aside from its dubious source, a legitimate question being posed with increasing frequency under the State House dome: Is anybody listening to the CVSC anymore?

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SC FREEDOM CAUCUS

STOCK: RISING

On the first anniversary of a federal court decision affirming its standing as a bona fide legislative caucus, the new SC Freedom Caucus keeps making its presence felt under the dome in Columbia. And with legislative elections now in full swing, it’s hoping its ranks will grow next year, too.

At last count, nearly three dozen Freedom Caucus-aligned candidates are challenging sitting Republican House members. If half of them win, the hardline conservative group’s membership would double.

The Freedom Caucus has established itself as a force to be reckoned with this legislative session. A significant increase in its numbers would amplify its impact.

Before that happens, though, a formidable obstacle must be overcome. The status quo – a.k.a. the Republican portion of the uniparty that’s in the driver’s seat in Columbia – isn’t going gently into that good night. It’s believed the moderate establishment leadership has access to a cool $1 million in funding resources. Expect another tidal wave of negative direct mail pieces and digital advertising targeting Freedom Caucus-friendly candidates to wash over the state shortly before early voting begins in May. 

Will that be enough to snuff out what has emerged as a real threat to the continued existence of the good ol’ boy network that has called the shots for decades in Columbia? That’s the million dollar question in Palmetto political circles these days. 

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U.S. MILITARY RECRUITING

STOCK: FALLING

Uncle Sam is still saying “I want you!” but more and more young Americans are replying, “Thanks … but no thanks.”

The U.S. Armed Forces are experiencing their worst-ever recruiting crisis. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines all missed their recruiting objectives in Fiscal Year 2023, which ended Sept. 30.

And a closer look at the numbers reveals a disturbing fact …

The decline is being driven by a growing number of white males who are turning their back on the military. While minority enrollment remained steady and in some cases even rose slightly, white enlistments have plunged since 2018. The drop is so huge it’s now nearing the crisis point.

In 2018, a majority of new recruits – 56.4 percent – were categorized as white. Last year, that number had slipped to 44 percent. Black and Hispanic recruiting percentages have risen over the same five-year period – but the actual numbers of new black and Hispanic recruits have remained flat.

The timing couldn’t be worse. The recruiting collapse is occurring at a time of peak geopolitical tension in the Middle East, eastern Europe and the South China Sea. With America’s increasingly stretched ranks growing even thinner, don’t think it’s escaped the attention of Moscow and Beijing.

Or the terrorists masterminds in Iran …

If a bad actor suddenly does something even “badder,” would our military be in a position to stop it?

We can expect that question to get increasing attention in this year’s presidential campaign.


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3 comments

Nanker Phelge April 2, 2024 at 11:00 pm

“U.S. president Joe Biden was in the midst of a major meltdown on Easter – or as his administration rechristened the holiest of holidays, ‘Transgender Visibility Day.’”

Will pandering to the dumb as rocks segment of his readers. Easter 2025 will be on April 20. Will Joe Biden move Transgender Visibility Day to that date?

Reply
JustCallMeAva Top fan April 3, 2024 at 2:12 pm

Also, worth noting, one Donald J. Trump also celebrated Transgender Visibility Day multiple times during his administration. As did three presidents before him, Republicans and Democrats.

Reply
jbl1a April 5, 2024 at 12:25 pm

Dont worry trannys, we see you. You stand out like a big pimple…smh

Reply

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