There's been a coup in the Thurmond camp. The controlling influence of Carroll Campbell and Warren Tompkins finally has been overthrown by Thurmond's old guard.
The senator's trusted advisors Warren Abernathy (an Aiken businessman and close friend), Billy Wilkins (federal Appeal Court judge appointed by Thurmond) and Dennis Shedd (federal judge appointed by Thurmond) fear the senator's dwindling standing in the polls and Tompkins' divided loyalty. It is no secret that Campbell wants Thurmond's seat, and Tompkins is Campbell's man.
Thurmond's fundraising has been going poorly, and when tickets for last month's gala with George Bush were discounted from $100 to $25 to boost turnout, it was the last straw for the old-timers.
Thurmond Campaign Manager Cindy Carter, whose previous claim to fame was knowing where to place the cows in Bob Peeler's campaign, was replaced by Mark Goodin. Goodin, as Lee Atwater's understudy at the Republican National Committee in 1989, was fired at the insistence of President Bush for implying that Democratic Speaker of the House Tom Foley was a closet homosexual.
"The ugliness of this climate is bad and I don't like it," Bush said at the time.
"I think it was in bad taste and bad judgment," Atwater told the New York Times. "I told Mark that I play hardball politics, but don't cross the line. This memo [about Foley] crossed the line."
The old guard wasn't hiring a pig in the poke when they took on Goodin, who was Shedd's chief of staff when Shedd ran Thurmond's office during the Reagan administration.
Covering their bases in classic Atwater style, the new Thurmond camp is also using Gary Maloney, a former Atwater operative at the RNC, to dig up dirt on Elliott Close, Thurmond's Democratic opponent.
Goodin denies that Maloney is on the payroll for the Thurmond campaign, but acknowledges that he might be on loan from the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, where he is on retainer.
Goodin, who conducts "opposition research" for Republicans, was retained by Gov. David Beasley when he ran for governor to unearth dirt on Tommy Hartnett's alleged "drinking problems."
Goodin is also a consultant for Arthur Finkelstein's polling company in New York. Finkelstein was the pollster who, at Atwater's direction, put together the poll that helped Campbell win a seat in the U.S. Congress in 1978.
According to Democratic analyst Alan Faron, the poll helped Campbell determine that his opponent, Max Heller, the popular Jewish mayor of Greenville, could not win if voters understood Heller was "a foreign-born Jew who did not believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior."
On Nov. 30, Maloney was observed going over Close's tax records at the Horry County Courthouse. He had been seen earlier poking around Close's home county of York.
It is not known whether Thurmond, who has pledged to run a clean campaign based oh his record, is aware of the hatchet men and muckrakers that surround him. In the senior senator's defense, it is not known whether he is aware of anything going on around him.
Secretary of State Jim Miles' coy refusal to announce whether he is running against Sen. Thurmond while definitely suggesting that he is indeed planning a campaign to take Sen. Fritz Hollings' seat in 1998, has the Thurmond camp in a tizzy.
Mark Goodin, Thurmond's new campaign manager, insists that Miles has already launched a stealth campaign against the senior senator. It is unclear why Goodin wants to focus the senator's meager campaign ammo against an undeclared primary candidate, unless the plan is to deflect attention away from the senator's Democratic opposition, Elliott Close.
It remains to be seen whether Goodin's plan will shore up the senator's lagging stock. What is clear is that Close is getting a free ride and Miles is having more fun than politicians should be allowed.
Recently, representatives Becky Meacham, Gary Simril and Greg Delleney were quoted in the Charlotte Observer as having no idea that the hog farm bill they recently voted for would prevent local governments from keeping huge factory hog farms from locating next to residential developments.
Voters may wonder why lawmakers don't understand the impact of the laws they pass and why they would admit it.Part of the answer is that the legislators are all too willing to be taken in by industry lobbyists who assure them that bills will have no harmful effects on the environment or on their constituents.
Another bill that Meacham cosponsored smells worse than the hog droppings she recently stepped in. The so-called Private Property Protection Act would gut all local zoning, historic protection, wetlands protection, hazardous waste facility siting laws, worker safety and fire protection law -- all in the name of "free enterprise."
Meacham and her conservative colleagues are in for a rude case of deja vu when they have to plead ignorance to angry constituents, claiming once again, "This bill does what? I had no idea."
The fall edition of the Department of Commerce's slick magazine, Economic Development, has good news for all you industrialists out there. South Carolina has the lowest private sector unionization rate in the nation, declining from 3.1 percent in 1993 to 2.4 percent in 1994.
Daniel Elbey, a lawyer with the anti-union Ogletree firm in Greenville and chairman of the state Chamber of Commerce's ironically named Human Resource Committee, warned bosses that unions are going to be more "aggressive and work smart" this year.
"We are seeing a much more systematic approach," Elbey was quoted in the publication, which is supported by workers' taxes. "We are hearing about a lot more grass-roots and organizational meetings. As more and more manufacturing industries move to the South to enjoy the positive business climate and progressive work force, unions are seeing the state as fertile ground and their organizers are following."
State Chamber president S. Hunter Howard Jr. touted South Carolina industries as "a model for the rest of the nation in positive management practices. Employers in South Carolina have long rec- ognized that positive employee relations free from third-party interference are the key to ensure that they maintain a direct and positive relationship with all their employees."
The Chamber, along with its chums at the state Department of Commerce, is working hard to ensure your right to work for some of the lowest wages in the nation. The only "third party interference" it will tolerate is from the Chamber of Commerce, the Textile Manufactures Association and industry-oriented groups such as the Business and Industrial Political Education Committee.
The YMCA Model Legislature filled the State House chambers during the last week in November. Like their grown-up counterparts, high school students from across the state participated in the rough-and-tumble arena of state politics.
Legislation was presented, argued, sent to committee and sometimes voted on. Some of it, like Jenny Lightweis' bill regulating censorship of high school reading material, was well-researched and could serve as a model for the real politicos to consider.
Lightweis' bill would allow a local school committee of parents, teachers and students to restrict a book by a vote of 10 to 13. A restricted book would be placed on a special shelf in the library that students could access only with parental permission.
While the Seneca High School senior referred to the liberal People for the American Way for her research, other students seemed to rely on Mein Kampf for guidance.
Model House representatives Jun Xu and Carl Thompson, students from the Governor's School for Science and Mathematics, proposed a bill to solve the problem of crime. The bill provided for:
"A three-year period of martial law to be enacted statewide on April 15, 1996.
All government power will be given to the National Guard.
The following crimes will be subject to trial by military jury, in military court, by military personnel, and will be punishable by death: murder, rape, theft, robbery, narcotics (sale, distribution and use), sexual deviancy (child molestation, masturbation, homosexuality, etc.).
Use of deadly force is authorized by all military police for any crime.
All electric power for inmates in state penitentiaries will be pulled.
Any business found guilty of any criminal activity will be seized and controlled by the National Guard.
If the total crime rate does not fall by a total of 75 percent, martial law will continue until the year 2005."
The bill for martial law and summary execution was debated for over two hours before it was defeated.
Lightweis observes that half of her peers are reactionary; the other half are radical. "I don't think that there are any young moderates," she said.
These kids would probably want to replace the Confederate flag with the swastika. We think that the Governor's School for Science and Mathematics needs to have a remedial course in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
When the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) came to Columbia last month, you would have thought they were encouraging children to eat their parents. A PETA volunteer in a giant carrot outfit, Cris P. Carrot, passed out leaflets advising middle school students that "animals are their friends" and that the hamburger they had for lunch was the product of a broken home.
The media and parents reacted with alarm that children would be targeted with vegetarian propaganda.
Noticeably missing from the media coverage of PETA's visit, characterized by some parents as brainwashing, was a comparison to the marketing ploys of the giant burger chains, or the fact that these chains are encroaching into school lunchrooms.
A 1995 survey of teen eating habits, recently quoted by Newsweek, revealed that 35 percent of teenage girls and 15 percent of boys thought being veggie was "in." Maybe it's their parents who need their brains washed.
Residents of rural Berkeley County who live next to the Four Holes Swamp wildlife sanctuary didn't know they were getting a new neighbor until September.
The bucolic neighborhood that has developed a tourist trade on the sights and sounds of the swamp, will soon trade the squeal of the heron and the throaty croak of the alligator for the screech of tires and the roar of engines that a NASCAR race track brings.
The half-mile race track and its 1,500 parking places didn't requite any permits. The area, close to Ridgeville, has no zoning.
Folks who live nearby are concerned that runoff from the track and parking lot will pollute the adjacent swamp. The sound of race cars will certainly distract the visitors in the adjoining Beidler Forest preserve.
According to Skip Hill, who lives within a mile of the proposed race track, the locals aren't trying to stop the development, "but if it should kill itself, it would be good."
A "Last Silent Night" rally is scheduled on Dec. 16 at 3 p.m. at Beidler Forest to protest the race track. For details, call Hill at 803-688-5447.
This month's sleazeball plays such dirty politics that the godfather of slash-and-burn politics once fired him for "crossing the line."
This sleaze now manages the most senior senator's campaign for reelection.
This sleaze now manages the most senior senator's campaign for reelection. For a free trial subscription to POINT be the first caller to identify this sleazeball.
Last month's sleazeball was DHEC Commissioner Douglas Bryant honored for overriding his staff and giving Waste Management's Spartanburg dump permission to expand.