Racing ahead with technology

Less than 360 days since the national Democrats embraced “new media” to take over Washington at all levels by energizing new voters, it looks like the SC GOP is ready to embrace these “gadgets” too.

It’s been well documented how much the Democrats relied on “new media” to get their message out to the masses , raise tons of money , and get out their vote .

So now, instead of having to just combat the “normal media”, Republicans had better ratchet it up a notch ourselves and start getting on board “new media”.

I was pleased to hear GOP Chairman candidates mention the need to embrace new technology and I’m sure new Chairman Karen Floyd will certainly maximize this medium to help maintain a majority in South Carolina.

Several of us elected officials have been using websites, Twitter and Facebook to communicate with constituents and voters for some time now. We also continue to use the ‘traditional’ ways of staying in touch: constituent service nights, columns in local papers, phone calls, and mailings.

We get it. Hopefully others soon will too.

Last night I was sent a message to text SCGOP to 97180. (I imagine this will be used to help with state fundraising events, GOTV efforts, etc.) So I took 30 seconds and signed up. Hopefully, all Republicans can do the same.

I also heard a few weeks ago that our House Republican Caucus may finally get the much talked about (since last summer) upgrade on our website. We’ll finally trade in our Atari for maybe a Wii. Of course, it’s not like our friends across the aisle in the House are techno-geeks themselves ( House Democrat Caucus Site )

Hopefully the website will look similar to the Senate Republican Caucus and actually connect citizens to more than our bios on the State House Website.

Many voters never hear from their elected officials until it’s election time (coincidence?). That’s wrong. Many voters have no idea how their officials are voting (don’t get me started on that) and that’s wrong.

Granted, many of you probably could care less how we spend our family time but to me, the more we can connect with voters, the better they can know us as individuals and their Representatives and Senators.

We aren’t all “policy wonks” and don’t think too highly of ourselves. We’re supposed to be part-time legislators. We’re supposed to make decisions for the good of the entire state. We’re supposed to listen and we’re supposed to lead.

How can we do that if you never hear from us or we never hear from you?

Looks like that’s changing everyday as more elected officials are embracing “new media”. As someone who once resisted the whole “new media” concept, I’m glad to see both parties embracing it – or soon embracing it.

Campaign 2010 about to kick into gear

With the State GOP Convention this weekend in Columbia, look for several formal announcements over the next few days.

Up first appears to be Representative Ted Pitts who will announce his intentions to run for Lt. Governor tomorrow on the internet at 10:00 a.m. I’m planning on watching this because, for starters, I’m friends with Ted and also I like the use of the internet and “new media”.

Nathan’s News readers might remember several months ago I mentioned the possible candidates for Lt. Governor. While Ted is up first, he may soon be joined by another friend of mine, former Representative Ralph Norman . To date the only announced candidate is Republican Bill Connor .

What other announcements could be coming?

For months it’s been assumed current Lt. Governor Andre Bauer as well as Attorney General Henry McMaster will run for Governor. Could this be the week they officially kick off their campaigns? So far, the only announced Republican gubernatorial candidates are current US Representative Greshman Barrett and Furman professor Brent Nelson . The only announced Democratic candidates? Senator Vincent Sheehan (D-Kershaw) and attorney Mullins McLeod .

Who else may run for the state’s top spot?

Lately my desk mate, Representative Nikki Haley , has been in the news with much speculation that an announcement is inevitable . Then there’s Senator Larry Grooms who has apparently announced he will announce soon.

The Democrats considering the top spot? Rumors have been circling that they may look to current House Minority Leader Harry Ott (D-Calhoun) to take back the Governor’s Mansion and make for a three-way primary with Sheehen and McLeod.

Most consultants will tell you SC is still a strong Republican leaning state (Jim Rex being the only Democratic statewide office holder) but could that change this year?

Some other names floating around for statewide offices are: Senator Darrell Jackson , Representative Jerry Govan , Representative Laurie Funderburk (all Democrats considering Lt. Governor bid?).

Should current Attorney General Henry McMaster run for Governor, look for Alan Wilson (US Representative Joe Wilson’s son) and possibly Judiciary Chairman Jim Harrison (R-Richland) to consider a run for the state’s top legal post.

The field is starting to take shape for most statewide spots and with fundraising a big obstacle during these economic times, the sooner you start the better your chances of gathering the dollars needed for these expensive races.

I’m sure there’s another surprise out there. Secretary of State? State Treasurer? If you hear of something feel free to share.

It’s obvious there will be some spirited primaries on both sides for several statewide offices and it will be very interesting to see who’s left standing to carry the mantle of each party come November 2010.

Will it be “politics as usual” or could candidates start focusing on “people, not politics”?

Not to get lost in all this, should be the much expected election of Karen Floyd as the new Chairman of the SC GOP .

The Weekly Rewind

Am I the only one who loves DVR on Time Warner? Ever since our little ones were born, it’s been the only way to really be sure we never missed anything because we might have been busy doing something else instead of staying glued to the TV.

Likewise, if you don’t have time to come to Columbia or watch SC ETV when we’re in session, you might miss a few things going on in state government.

Set your recorder to NathansNews and I’ll try to recap each week with information that may have made mainstream media and some that may not have made its way to your papers or TV.

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The Republican caucus unveiled our 2009 Agenda as well as named the following members to caucus leadership positions:

Finance Chairman – Tracy Edge
Floor Leaders – Annette Young, Jim Merrill, Murrell Smith
Majority Chief Whip – Bill Herbkersman
Assistant Majority Whips – Eric Bedingfield, Ted Pitts, Alan Clemmons

The House also elected Joan Brady (R-Richland) to the Ethics Committee and also saw the appeal of former Rep. Wallace Scarborough withdrawn. This withdrawal means that Rep. Anne Peterson-Hutto (D-Charleston) can finally enjoy a victory and means the Democrats picked up (net) two seats this past November. This also means freshman Rep. Mark Willis (R-Greenville) can now finally move into the office vacated by Mr. Scarborough.

This event (as well as the passing of Rep. Olin Phillips ) set in motion several committee moves in the House: Kris Crawford (R-Florence) moved from Judiciary Committee to LCI (filling the seat vacated by Wallace Scarborough). Freshman Mike Sottile (R-Charleston) moved from Agriculture to Judiciary (to fill Crawfords spot). Mike’s Ag spot is vacant, presumably to be filled by the winner in the special election to replace Olin Phillips House seat. Jackie Hayes (D-Dillon) moved from 3M to LCI (filling the seat left by the death of fellow Democrat Olin Phillips). Anne Petterson Hutto (D-Charleston) filed the seat on 3M vacated by fellow Democrat Jackie Hayes. (Did you follow all that?)

The House also strengthened the rule we previously passed at December’s Reorganization Session dealing with “Roll Call Voting”. The resolution (H 3138), sponsored by Rep. Nikki Haley (R-Lexington), me and Bill Wylie (R-Greenville), passed 115-0. Many of us still believe a law needs to be passed but are pleased to at least see the House (and Senate) make steps towards more transparency.

The week also saw the debut of “Tweeting” from the House Floor. Rep. Dan Hamilton (R-Greenville) has developed a website, SCTWEETS.COM , where the public can see live messages from House Members from the floor. Presently, many more Republican officials are “tweeting” than are the Democrats. I expect that to change as we move throughout the session.

Wednesday evening saw the seventh State of the State address for Governor Mark Sanford. The governor mentioned several individuals during his speech and laid out his agenda for this first year of a two-year session. Senator Vincent Sheehen (D-Kershaw) delivered the Democratic response immediately afterwards.

As far as legislation passed this week, the House unanimously (113-0) approved Rep. Tracy Edge’s (R-Horry) Resolution (H 2381) that will require the Department of Health and Services to maintain hospice services for our citizens.

Thursday saw the ogligatory recognitions of a few sports teams in our state (state champions or national champions) before we adjourned for the week.

Next week? We’re on the first of four furlough weeks this year but we’ll be back January 27th!

Let's see how far we've come

I don’t get to listen to music too much anymore (usually it’s Radio Disney or some DVD in the car that JC and Emma are watching) but I thought this Matchbox 20 song was pretty cool.

For those that follow me on Twitter and have learned more about me, you know I’m a “Child of the 80’s”. When I heard this song though, it made me think…how far have we come in South Carolina politics?

We’ve seen government spending grow a lot in the past few years, will this year be different?

We’ve seen officials tossed out of office for not listening to their constituents, will this year be different?

We’ve seen a growing distrust among people and their officials, will this year be different?

We’ve seen Republicans forgetting what being a Republican is about, will this year be different?

We’ve seen the House/Senate/Governor constantly point fingers, will this year be different?

We’ve seen those that speak up against the “status-quo” always face retribution, will this year be different?

We’ve seen freshman officials come to Columbia on promises they start forgetting, will this year be different?

We’ve seen SC unemployment reach a 25 year high, will this year be different?

We’ve seen School-Choice debates (public AND private) defeated, will this year be different?

We’ve seen Cigarette Tax plans continually defeated, will this year be different?

We’ve seen companies choose other states over SC, will this year be different?

I could go on but basically, WILL THIS YEAR BE DIFFERENT? The video (to me) shows how much has been accomplished in the past. It shows the fight for democracy and how “people not politics” should ultimately prevail…and usually does, in the end..but not without a group pushing for change.

While my role is to help this year be different in SC, it’s gonna take YOU to make that happen. If you have issues on your mind and (better yet) ideas, suggestions, and solutions – please let your elected officials know.

Email us. Write us. Call us. Write letters to the editors. Ask us to come listen to your group. Find out why and how we vote on the bills we do.

After all, it is your government. It is your statehouse. It is YOUR seat that we currently sit in. Too many elected officials forget it’s not OUR seat….it’s yours.

Take back your seat. Hold your officials accountable and this year can be different. Let’s see how far we’ve come.

Surf's up! Support for Open-Government swells

(I just posted on Twitter : “Budget Week – not as fun as Shark Week – but alot of bleeding.” I guess I just have the ocean on my mind.)

If there’s a bright side to having everyone together for Budget Cuts this week , it’s that it gives us a chance to see Representatives and Senators that have been calling and emailing this summer in support of common-sense reforms that will be pre-filed later this year.

What started as a battle seems to be moving towards a reality as everyone understands the needs for change. The question seems to have moved from “Will we actually do this next year?” to “How will we do this next year?”. By that, it seems many are eager for “real reform” but (as happens often in politics), will we see an attempt to water-down Representative Haley’s bill or even see something like a rules change that might not have the “teeth” like Haley’s bill?

As of today, there are roughly 30 members willing to go public by agreeing to sign as co-sponsors on the Spending Accountability Act (On-The-Record Voting) and the Campaign Disclosure Reform Bill .

That’s a good number of co-sponsors for any bill but; what’s even more exciting is that several colleagues have shared that they will go public AFTER the House has our re-organizational meeting in December.

As I’ve said all along, I’m hoping to report back in early January that these common-sense reforms have passed the House and that we are moving forward with restoring public trust and confidence in their elected officials while also allowing more sunshine on the process.

The grass-roots support from those across the state is working! Thank you to those that have contacted your elected officials and asked them to support these measures. Keep it up!

(UPDATED 10/19/08) Clean Money – it is possible, you know?

***
October 19th: As of today, the following have agreed to co-sponsor the bill: Haley, Hamilton, Wylie, Roland Smith, Huggins, Pitts, Simrill, Murrell Smith, Cobb-Hunter, Harrell, Merrill, Gullick, James Smith, Owens, Philips, Jennings, Garry Smith.
***

Having two kids under the age of 4 , I tend to have alot of spilled milk around our house that leads to alot of cleanups. In your house (the State House), we also have alot of cleanups that should be going on as well. And many of us are trying.

Last year, it was Earmark Reform . While we didn’t pass my bill, we did pass a version of the bill (less teeth that I had hoped) as a House Rule.

Last month, we talked about On-The-Record Voting (which I’m pleased to say is gaining momentum all over the state…local civic groups….. newspaper editorials …. elected officials from both parties …..basically, anyone with a brain!)

Now, it’s time to clean up the mother’s-milk of politics: MONEY . Or, specifically, how elected officials and candidates for office disclose their contributions.

It really bothers me that there’s an expression in politics that says: “There are two types of candidates. Those that raise money – and losers.” While this is not always the case (note: several candidates have worked their tail off and been outspent by large amounts and still come out on top), money can be a good indicator of how much support a person has garnered.

As someone who had NO ONE in his corner on Day One (well, actually had 10 folks at my house in December 2003), I really don’t fault anyone for accepting any money, from anywhere, at anytime (as long as it’s legal). Folks, it costs money to run races and (people often forget) to stay in touch with your constituents. Those constituent surveys, constituent-service nights, end-of-year summaries and phone calls aren’t free!

Much has been made in the past few years about “out-of-state money” trying to influence our state government. I’m not sure if I believe the crowd that says it’s all bad. I certainly would also never say that folks are ever “bought and paid for.” [Read more…]