HICKS COLUMN: Crowded GOP field is no good for anyone

There are going to be a bunch of bruised egos around here come March 19, and most of them will belong to Republican candidates for Congress.

There are 16 GOP hopefuls trying to succeed Tim Scott, who got a bump to senator after Jim DeMint deserted last year. Now, some of these 16 folks are more than qualified to serve in Congress — they could wreck the country as well as anyone.

But some of them are just delusional.

Republican officials are quietly worried about this potential train wreck. Here's the problem: In a special election, which could have abysmally low turnout, most of these egomaniacs won't crack 2 percent of the vote. But there are so many people in the race that, when the smoke clears and the runoff ends, any single one of them could get lucky and win.

And some Republicans fear they might wind up with a Todd Akin sort of candidate — and promptly lose the election.

No difference

Last week, 13 of the 16 GOP candidates for the 1st District showed up in Goose Creek for a candidate forum. Each one of them got three minutes to speak. Sadly, that's going to be the way it is from now until the election.

There are too many candidates to have a debate that wouldn't run longer than a Bruce Springsteen show — and no one would listen to politicians talk that long.

So instead we'll get a series of meet-the-candidate events, and a chorus line of people saying exactly the same thing — less government, lower taxes, Obama bad.

That's what the folks at the American Legion heard last Saturday, over and over. And that's not helping anyone make up their mind. It's just confusing things even more, and keeping us from properly vetting these people.

Now, no one is saying that these folks don't have a right to run for office — it's a free country.

But this is not democracy, it's lunacy.

Straight to the majors?

The Post and Courier is covering the race and profiling each of the candidates. Trying to herd all of the cats, as it were.

But there is a twofold problem.

Since there won't be Republican debates, a lot of voters could go into this election blind, and candidates with low name recognition won't have a chance to outline their broader vision (even if it mainly consists of them sitting in a fancy office on Capitol Hill).

In fact, some GOP officials — who won't talk about this publicly — are offended by how presumptuous a few of these folks are, getting into politics at the federal level without playing in the minor leagues first.

But, hey, ego fuels politics these days. Some consultant tells a guy with delusions of grandeur that he could go to Washington, and the guy buys it.

And the voters are left to sort out the mess.

The Republicans had better hope some of these people wise up and drop out before the ballots are printed. It would be embarrassing to nominate somebody so flawed that the Democrats actually win.

That would be a waste of a perfectly gerrymandered district.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com or read his blog at blog.postandcourier.com/brians-blog.

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