Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The 7th District Candidates Battle It Out In Florence ...

West Florence High Is a Very Friendly Place For Local Jay Jordan, But There Was Plenty Else to Wonder About and Analyze....

     The much anticipated premier event for the Florence County GOP finally took place Monday night.  After months of planning and promotion, the first 7th Congressional District Candidate Debate went on at West Florence High.  While the event was sold out, the was probably about a 25% no show, which is not unexpected. After all,tickets were only five bucks, so not making it isn't like you were blowing NFL tickets...  The Florence GOP did a good job with the event. It went pretty quickly, and we only had one question, which we'll get to later.  

Before we get ahead of ourselves, we'll start at the beginning.. Like most events, there was a pregame.  This one was at Redbone Alley, courtesy of Andre Bauer.  It was pretty good, but then free wings always are.  Scott Maleryck and I had a long conversation about the race, which was cool, because I'm usually a quick hitter - most people can only tolerate me for two or three minutes max....

We apologize for not having any pics from the debate inside.  Everyone was kind of cordoned off, so the candidates were a good 75 feet away.  All we have for you are pics from the predebate minglefest.  Here Tom Rice is with two of his supporters.  Hey Guys - you're on the intrenet!

Andre Bauer chats with Betty Dowling, while Randal Wallace is engaged with two of Andre's team members...  Then, it was time to get inside for the debate..

Welcome to my special digs - the Blogger table, which was basically me, and the Special Security guy you see to the left.  Yes, I felt very special in the corner.. Hey, I had more room than the REAL media people. No, I don't bring my laptop or even a pen - I just watch, then make shit up afterwards....

OK, onto the play-by-play... We'll just headline each main point, then summarize briefly. 

Was It The Tribe has Spoken, Or American Idol?
    Eight of the nine candidates were there (Katherine Jenerette had a schedule conflict), but we could have been there all night, so the FCGOP decided to have an Elimination Round after an hour.  We wondered how they would count 450 votes during a five minute break, but what they did was take the votes BEFORE the debate started. Basically, three of the candidates were knocked out before they started, but we guess there weren't a ton of options....

And In the Pickle Barrel... The Four Horsemen??
    I got to chat with Bill Pickle for a minute or two during the break, and he suddenly got the idea that I had wondered for a while - he should have me on his radio show.  Far be it for me to suggest it uninvited, but DUH!!  I suppose I could hold up an hour if I give my life story, along with my brilliant Unemployment Rate/Election theory, but then I thought getting all of the Four Horsemen on together would be awesome.  Of course, Tom would likely lose his job for being on air, but it could be worth it....

Next Time, Just Let Mel Pennington Ask All the Questions
     We gotta say, WPDE's Tim McGinnis SUCKED, particularly in the first round.  Not that it might have mattered much, but his questions to Renee Culler and Dick Withington were double-barrelled shotgun blasts, not actual attempts to find out about the candidates.  He asked Culler about her Nacogdoches Problem, and he seemed to question Withington's mental balance.  Not that they don't contribute to deciding whether to vote for them, but when you get two questions, and that's one of them, you just sank them.  Granted, neither handled them well, but it ain't easy to look good when you get asked those questions.

    Florence County Councilman James Schofield wasn't a lot better... His questions dragged on longer than the answers from the candidates.  It was basically like he was giving his own opinion in the question by stating the reasoning for a position.  Waaaay to long - just ask the cliff notes version next time.  The saving grace was Hartsvegas Mayor Mel Pennington.  He was the most interesting by far.  He joked a couple times with the candidates, stating that he missed Jay Jordan's 32nd birthday because Jordan forgot to invite him, and catching two candidates passing notes during the debate.  More importantly, he just asked questions and was fair...

The Jay Jordan Lovefest Begins!
     Going into this, a very important point was forgotten by us - we were in Florence.  That was corrected from the very beginning.. Culler and Randal Wallace received decent applause for their opening statement.  When Jordan spoke, the place erupted - and it stayed that way all night.  It was like half of Florence Baptist Temple showed up for the debate.  Bauer was a clear second choice for applause, but it wasn't close.  Jordan could have answered questions about his favorite sandwich or Boxers/Briefs, and they would have  gone crazy.... The Straw Poll results weren't even worth staying around for - it was Jordan's crowd, which he needs. If he doesn't pull Florence, he is toast.

Don't Quit Your Day Job, Fellas..
    Master of Ceremonies Phillip Lowe decided to end the debate on a different note, by asking the Final Five to tell their favorite joke.  Chad Prosser basically deferred by joking that he can't tell a joke, Tom Rice bombed, Randal Wallace's delivery was iffy, and Andre Bauer told the Old Lady and the Peanut joke that we saw coming from a mile away.  Jay Jordan gave the best delivery, although the joke escapes us right now.. Personally, our favorite is the Bill Clinton at the Ballgame joke. 

OK, those were the things that caught our attention the most, but the most important thing was the debate itself.  Below, we give our unofficial grade on each candidates performance.  Granted, debating doesn't always correlate with winning, but we'll see...

Renee Culler
    Like we said, McGinniss' first question wasn't exactly fair, and Culler started out OK, and ended OK, but she lost it in the middle.  I always have a soft spot for the little guys - the ones who don't have a manager telling what they did wrong and right.  I advised her not to attack other candidates by name, and she did at first, but she then went on the Chad Prosser-DeLinda Ridings insider trading tangent that she's done before. It's not the best argument, and it got the crowd buzzing, but not in the good way. I asked her after what she was doing, and she admitted she took my adivce for 30 seconds, then just went for it....  C-

Dick Withington
     Withington was doing OK in his opening statement, although he went long giving the family history of the Withington clan, but he did give organized points on why he should get your vote.  After that, it got messy.  During the Culler-Prosser mess, he asked to rebutt Prosser, and was stopped. Why ?  Because there was no rebutting, which apparently he was the only one in the auditorium who didn't know that.  McGinniss' second question about his saber-rattling (literally) and questioning the stability of Horry County Chair Johnnie Bellamy were handled badly.  We've talked to Bellamy a few times, and the pot is calling the kettle black a bit here.. C.

Jim Mader
     We've been telling you guys this for months, but Jim Mader is a solid, well-grounded guy who needs to find a job when all of this is over.  He probably was the second best at getting his point across, and if the elimination were done after the first round, he may have snuck in.  He did well on McGinniss' 'what makes you think you're qualified' question, but he could have rammed that down his throat.  Aside from that, he was organized, clear and hopefully left the Florence crowd liking him better. This field is too crowded for him to win, but he'll have a future somewhere.. B+

Randal Wallace
     Randal let us down a little bit tonight.  He wasn't as clear on his vision as he was during GOP meetings, but wasn't terrible by any means.  He just seemed a tad off his game, and the down home charm he has didn't help a lot when the message gets garbled.  In a race jammed with three guys who have similar resumes, he didn't break from the pack.   C+

Tom Rice
     To his credit, Rice raised his personality for the bigger crowd.  He is often too reserved, bordering on dull, but was better than we'd seen him before.  Still, that put him in much the same position as Wallace - still in the pack.  Again, his answers lacked the specifics that we look for, and there was something he said that we remember as being flat-out wrong. Wish we could remember what it was. Next time, we'll take notes... C+

Chad Prosser
    His best moment was probably his defense of DeLinda Ridings, which he said he was glad South Carolina was a Right to Work state, where he could hire anyone he wanted... He was a bit more organized and clearer than Wallace and Rice, but his presence lacked compared to Jay Jordan and Andre Bauer tonight. Not bad, but he could do better. B-

Jay Jordan
    For months, we have said that Jay has been too mice of a guy during the events he's attended. He often lets people running for lower office dominate the time, and he'd just listen.  Tonight, backed by a crowd clearly in his corner, he was much more confident and had better presence.  Yes, he did get a few softballs thrown his way (he was asked TWICE about term limits, when he made his position clear the first time - were we listening, Tim?), and he talked a bit in generalities, but it was by far a good night for him.. B+

Andre Bauer
    As great a night as Jordan had, Bauer was clearly the best at the debate.  Like most times, he was well-prepared (his opening statement was exactly 2 minutes on the nose), clear, razor sharp, and most importantly, went into more detail than any of the other candidates.  The best example was when the Final Five were asked what specific thing would they do for the other region of the District that they didn't live in. The other four grazed around the topic, but Bauer mentioned opening a Free Trade Zone in the Pee Dee to assist in the production of a Natural Gas vehicle developed by a South Carolinian... Specific enough for you?  No doubt Jordan won the Straw Poll, but Bauer proved why he is leading in the polls.  A-

     It's 1:45am, and that's how we saw it tonight.  Congrats to the Florence GOP for putting on a good show tonight, and to all the people who decided to get involved and enable themselves to make an informed decision...



Bill Pickle said...

Thank you SC6! Appreciate you coming to Florence. Hope to see you again soon.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info about the debate. Hate to see that Randall Wallace struggled - he has been solid at the county party meetings. His ties to the Pee Dee and beach should help him --- he's also a "down-to-earth" guy.

Mike Reino said...

Randal was far from bad, I think he just missed an opportunity to do well. In a debate, if the moderator doesn't ask th question you want to, you need to pivot on it to get what you want to say, without making it obvious, of course. That was the difference last night - Andre got his points across.

Anonymous said...

Couldn’t help but notice that your buddy Grimes was there and then left. Looks like someone finally got him to take a hint and leave. Hopefully thats the last we will ever see of him. As far as him losing his job, that’s already in the works.

Mike Reino said...

How typical of you Anon, to take a positive post and try to dump gasoline all over it - and trust me, I KNOW who you are..

As for Tom, he planned to only stay for a little while ahead of time. His primary reason for coming was to meet up with and apologize to a party member, but that person wasn't there. The debate didn't matter much to him.

As for the job threat, here's a little advice. Let it go. This is just politics, but threatening a person's livelihood is another matter. Tom has plenty of friends who would gladly sue anyone involved in that. Oh, and by the way - you do know that if a lawsuit were involved, they could petition Google to trace every one of these threats you post Anonymously - or are you that stupid?

Like some people or not, you need people like Tom, and even me in the party. Your 'with us or against us' philosophy is killing your credibility, both inside and outside the county...

Anonymous said...

Anon, get over it. People can track your IP address so we know where this is coming from. It's going to come out soon, as part of that whole big lawsuit. Hide on Facebook if you'd like, but it's not really hiding.

mg said...

Andre Bauer is the person I would support.

Anonymous said...

Enough of this silliness. We have a primary to run and general election to win. Let's keep our attention where it belongs and lose this bad political version of DALLAS.

First, Mike,great post. Sorry I had to leave early. Speaking of leaving early, as Mike pointed out, I had already make plans to make it a short night since I had several things going on at the same time.

As far as lawsuits go, let me make this clear, I have no intention in becoming a political side show in the middle of a election cycle. Further, as any attorney reading this will confirm, filing a suit, winning a suit and actually collecting anything are three totally different sets of occurances. I have better things to do than deal with billable hours. At this time I have no plans to sue anybody for anything. So everyone exhale, take a deep breath and let's move on.

The convention is over and Elijah won a hard fought race, let's give him a chance to prove himself. This silly back and forth does nothing but his job all the more difficult. Let's all get on the same page and come together. The democrats would love to see us tear each other apart and I have no plans to hand them this district, especially due to self inflicted wounds.

Finally, I have found several universal truths when it comes to politics two of which are on point to all this #$%^&U* that has gone on lately; 1)there are always going to be friends, allies and supporters that will have your back just as there will be those who oppose you, even when your on the same side; 2) apologies, explanations and regrets are worthless. Your friends won't need them and your anatagonists won't care or believe them.

To those who think I'm going away, keep in mind I've done this for most of my life. I don't need monthly meetings and conventions to be involved. I've been written off for dead before and if/when I decide to come back it will be at a time and place of my choosing.
Besides if anything, not being in a party office frees me to focus on campaigns that I want to focus on that I could not as chairman.

Now then, let's quit beating this dead horse, put aside our personal egos and agendas pick our Congressional nominee and win this election cycle. I've offered the olive branch...any takers??...teg

earlcapps said...

Tom, you're always the bigger person - and you have the guts to put your name on your comments too. Always fun trooping with you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tom --- great points! The bottom line is winning these elections (local,state,federal) and maybe even stealing a seat or two.
You are also correct about Elijah -he won the Chairman position. Let's let him show/provide leadership in helping this new district. We'll know soon enough if he is up to the job.

Elijah Jones said...

Maybe the third time is the charm (some error keeps kicking me out)

Anonymous Posters,

I thought of whether to respond to this thread for the past 24 hours and decided to do so.

The District Convention was almost a month ago. I would respectfully ask that you consider focusing your efforts on effecting positive change in the coming months and years to increase the ranks of Republicans in elected office throughout our new District. Looking backward and fighting these "battles" is counter productive for all of us. Tom Grimes has been a friend to me and has given me plenty of good advice since I became district chair. We have a great working relationship and I hope to learn from those who have served before and of course learn lessons the hard way (as we all do) throughout my upcoming term as Chairman.

The Democrats love it when we all spar amongst ourselves. Please don't allow yourselves to be caught up in the moment and do irreparable harm to your own reputation while stifiling our efforts to grow conservatism in our District.

Respectfully yours,

Elijah T. Jones

earlcapps said...

Elijah, you ought to have that same conversation with your backers. They seem to have it out for him pretty bad and the tone of these conversations haven't moderated since the convention.

If not, oh well, the Blogland has gone after Florence politicos more than once. I can change my targets, sight my guns and fire away some more if they don't want to play nice. Since I don't work in politics, don't hold office and am not running for anything, I've got nothing to lose.