Politics

Palmetto Political Stock Index – 4/8/2024

Where should you invest your political capital this week?

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A South Carolina senator wants the Palmetto State’s antiquated, bloated, corrupt and dysfunctional state government to keep a $1.8 billion pile of cash it recently stumbled upon —and he’s willing to take down a constitutional officer to do it.

In other news, it’s “A Tale of Two Joes,” with the South Carolina variety dramatically outperforming the Washington, D.C. version.

Meanwhile, as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson goes, so goes Taylor Swift? Maybe …

We’re now less than eight weeks away from the first votes being cast in South Carolina’s primary election – which means it’s important to start figuring out where best to invest one’s political capital.

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Over the past year, our founding editor Will Folks and political columnist Mark Powell have been monitoring political developments in South Carolina and beyond via our Palmetto Political Stock Index.  With the ‘First in the South’ presidential 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.

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

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LARRY GROOMS

STOCK: FALLING

A disappointing reality is settling in for Larry Grooms, the once-conservative senator from Berkeley County. He’s now the poster boy for a Columbia power grab to spend $1.8 billion in “found money” that turned up out of nowhere. Instead of refunding it to its rightful owners — the taxpayers who ponied up that dough in the first place — some legislators are greedily licking their chops in anticipation of an unexpected spending spree. And Grooms is at the front of that pack.

A state Senate subcommittee impeachment hearing into Curtis Loftis last week devolved into a shouting match, with Grooms repeatedly berating the thrice-elected State Treasurer. 

Loftis favors restoring the money to South Carolina citizens. Grooms, who apparently knew about the massive surplus long before it became public, wants to run through that cash, showering pet projects and political special interests alike with a cloudburst of legislative largesse. So, in Grooms’ eyes (and those of the pro-spending cabal), Loftis must go.

Grooms’ (self) righteous wrath would have far more credibility had he stepped forward last year and shed light on the situation early on. Instead, he’s left looking like exactly what he is: the spending-addicted front man for a failed system that prioritizes loyalty to the forces that keep its obedient lackeys in office. 

Never fear, though, it appears there are more eyes on this situation now than previously anticipated …

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NANCY MACE

SC first congressional district candidate Nancy Mace

STOCK: RISING

Regardless of what you think of her politics and personality, this much is certain: Incumbent congresswoman Nancy Mace appears to be in a very strong position heading into the critical phase of her U.S. House reelection bid. Mace’s campaign released a review of its internal polling last week – data which showed her with a commanding 26-point lead … before the race’s intense advertising blitz even begins.

Obviously, any campaign’s polling must always be taken with a full bag of Morton’s salt. But the numbers are so substantial in this case, either the poll was spectacularly off base or – as Mace’s campaign modestly put it in a memo – “the primary race is starting to show signs of ending before it really begins.”

Let’s not carve the political tombstone for her opponent just yet, though. The GOP Establishment is betting heavily that challenger Catherine Templeton can knock off Mace in the June 11, 2024 primary. No slouch in the fundraising department, Templeton reported raising nearly $500,000 in the first quarter of this year. You can flood an awful lot of mailboxes with material and blanket thousands of computer screens with campaign advertising when you’ve got that kind of money in the bank. 

However, Mace’s strongest asset may be Templeton herself. Best known for her underwhelming run for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2018, the former Columbia bureaucrat has yet to set Republican hearts racing.

Mace, on the other hand, is benefiting from her on-again/ off-again/ on-again relationship with “frenemy” Donald Trump (which, as of this writing, remains very much “on“). That blocks Templeton from hitting Mace on her right flank. While an establishment-friendly centrist approach might work in November’s general election, it isn’t going over well with the MAGA-driven primary base.

Templeton has an uphill climb ahead of her to take down the incumbent congresswoman. Just as she failed to take down incumbent governor Henry McMaster six years ago.

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JOE WHITE

STOCK: RISING

Think of it as “A Tale of Two Joes.” Our index has written extensively about D.C. Joe, the cognitively challenged progressive pandering 81-year-old currently serving in Washington – and about the economic misery his policies are inflicting on South Carolinians.

Then there’s S.C. Joe, the one who’s the state representative from Newberry. Though he shares the same first name and has also seen and surpassed his biblical three score and ten years (at 78, he’s three years Biden’s junior), all similarity ends there.

Forget his age; Joe Whites energy level could give a college student a run for his money. As a military veteran and successful former small businessman, his political views are as different from D.C. Joe’s as noon is from midnight.

There’s also a distinct difference in terms of energy – and cognition.

While D.C. Joe puts himself in serious danger every time he strays from his deep state teleprompter, White had no issue throwing down the guantlet at a news conference last week. He held the General Assembly’s feet to the fire over legislative dillydallying on judicial reform – and did so without having to rely on notes. White has championed this issue and is keeping the pressure on his fellow lawmakers to reform a corrupt system that has more ethical holes in it than a slice of Swiss cheese.

White is completing his freshman term in the House and is facing opposition in his upcoming primary election. But all the White yard signs sprouting up around Newberry and Prosperity suggest folks there know a good thing when they see one.

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ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.

STOCK: RISING

The specter of a political renegade turning into an election year spoiler increasingly haunts the Biden campaign – with the 70-year-old son of a prominent presidential candidate (and nephew of a beloved former president) posing a growing threat to the current president’s reelection prospects.

Nobody believes for a second that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has the proverbial snowball-in-Hades chance of bumping off Joe Biden in November. He’s only polling at around 10 percent nationally, after all. But in this rigor mortis-ly divided nation, the election will be determined by a handful of swing states. (Six, seven, or eight, depending on whose electoral math you use.) And in most of them, polling already suggests it’ll be a very close contest. 

In other words, Biden can’t afford to lose a single vote in any of them. If Kennedy can convince enough moderates and disenchanted Dems to give him their ballots, Biden could be in for a long, unpleasant election night. 

Sound farfetched? Not really. Just ask Al Gore and Hillary Clinton what Green Party candidates did to their chances in the 2000 and 2016 squeaker elections …

And what is impending GOP nominee Donald Trump’s reaction to Kennedy’s candidacy? “He’s Crooked Joe’s political opponent, not mine,” the former president gleefully posted on his Truth social media app. “I love that he’s running!”

With good reason …

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CELEBRITY PRESIDENTIAL ENDORSEMENTS

STOCK: RISING

Lyndon Johnson is remembered for famously saying in 1968, “If I’ve lost Walter Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle (class) America.”

Today, Joe Biden could say, “If I’ve lost Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, I’ve lost Gen Xers.”

No country on God’s green earth is obsessed with celebrities more than the good old U.S. of A. And that obsession shoots into sheer absurdity when celebrity status intersects with presidential politics.

We got a refresher course on that last week when the former wrestler turned actor told an interviewer he’s not endorsing any candidate this year. Johnson had publicly supported Biden in 2020. This time around, he says he will “keep my politics to myself.”

With that burning question out of the way, America now turns its anxious eyes to the real issue at stake here: Who will Taylor Swift back this fall?

In one of the greatest sucking up jobs of the 2024 cycle to date, senator and Biden accolyte Chris Coons told a podcaster last week, “Taylor Swift is an incredible American creative phenomenon. To have (her) publicly support and endorse Joe Biden would make a big and a significant difference.”

For the record, Swift endorsed Biden in 2020 in order to — in her words — “start a healing process” in America.” (To borrow from TV’s Doctor Phil, “And how did that work for you?”)

If Swift follows in The Rock’s footsteps and ducks endorsing Biden II: The Sequel, Joe and Jill might as well book a U-Haul now and head back to Delaware.

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WANNA SOUND OFF?

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2 comments

Nanker Phelge April 11, 2024 at 3:57 pm

The only way RFKJR is going to hurt Biden is that he may attract some dimwits who will vote for him just because of his name. No even slightly educated Biden voter will vote for someone who is anti vax, says Jan 6 was nothing and is for a 12 week national abortion ban. That’s not to mention his nutty VP pick and new romance with the wing nuts of the Alaska Independence Party, and it’s only April. As Trump continues spinning out his voters might find Bobby a more attractive candidate.

It’s gonna be fun to see who flames out more spectacularly in the coming months–RFKJR or Captain Covfefe.

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Mister Ed's Vet April 11, 2024 at 4:59 pm

Must be awkward for conservatives to pretend things like the Tea Party and No Labels aren’t just astroturfed movements funded by their handlers.

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