At some point, Gov. Nikki Haley is going to need an intervention, otherwise she'll be opening news conferences with Ray Charles music.
The signs have been there for a long time. But now this codependent relationship she has with the Peach State and its governor is getting a little ridiculous.
During her first year in office, Haley asked her own Department of Health and Environmental Control board to "take another look" at a Savannah River dredging permit. That ultimately helped Georgia gain a competitive edge over the Charleston port.
South Carolina officials roundly, and justifiably, criticized her for not knowing which state she represents.
This is, after all, war.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal publicly thanked her for her support, but even before that threw a fundraiser in her honor. The paltry $15,000 they raised for her was hardly thanks enough, however.
They should have at least thrown in a Playstation or two - right, Ken Ard?
Haley should have been offended. And maybe she was.
This winter, Haley blasted Georgia and Deal for the state's incompetence in dealing with the polar vortex, seeing as how her brother - along with what seemed like 50 million other poor souls - was stuck on Atlanta roads for 27 hours.
Deal fired back. Haley apologized. Deal accepted.
Now Deal and Georgia port officials are throwing Haley yet another fundraiser.
And if you don't like it, well, you can go dredge sand.
Race to the bottom
Monday's fundraiser in Atlanta will be your typical political fawning session.
Georgia's top lobbyists, politicians and GOP sycophants are going to pay up to $5,000 a couple to mingle with Haley.
The Democrats can whine all they want about how Haley collected a huge portion of her campaign war chest out of state, but where is she going to find that money in South Carolina? We're all broke, despite Haley's claims that she has brought jobs to the state.
Fact is, Georgia owes her.
Right now, ports up and down the East Coast are scrambling to dredge so they can accommodate deeper-draft ships that will start calling in the next couple of years. Charleston's biggest competition is Savannah. If that channel gets dredged before ours, we lose. Big time.
Now, DHEC didn't necessarily base its initial denial on business. There were environmental concerns as well. But when the governor asks you to "take another look," that usually means she isn't happy with the first decision.
When all this came out - the DHEC reversal, Haley's fundraiser - the state Senate held a long, blustery hearing and tried to yank permit approval from the state agency. The senators eventually found that they could not find any smoking gun.
Still, a lot of people were offended.
A normal politician would be sensitive to dredging up this old issue in an election year. But Haley doesn't care.
She may have her faults, but math isn't one of them.
A Winthrop University poll released this week shows that 78 percent of Republican voters view Haley favorably.
She has a pile of money and a pretty secure position. The only way she doesn't win a second term is if some well-respected conservative goes all Ralph Nader in the general election as a third-party candidate, siphoning enough of her votes to give Democrat Vincent Sheheen the win.
That's the only way it happens because Haley is pretty powerful right now.
Even those who blasted her loudest two years ago are taking a pass on publicly criticizing her for cozying up to an out-of-state port. One prominent lawmaker said she can raise money wherever she likes - everybody does it - but getting cozy with the Georgia ports is shameless.
On Wednesday, State Ports Authority Chairman Bill Stern defended Haley against Democratic criticism of next week's fundraiser, saying he knows the governor has always put South Carolina first.
Of course, what's he going to say? You know, of course, who appoints the SPA board.
Fact is, Haley did South Carolina's largest industry no favors when she stepped in on Georgia's behalf in 2011. Republicans and Democrats were right to be outraged because if Charleston Harbor loses business to Georgia's port, the whole state loses.
Lawmakers and other public officials can grouse all they want, but this is what they get for creating a one-party state. A lot of people actually believe that any Republican beats any Democrat.
Even if that Republican doesn't know - or care - exactly which state she's supposed to represent.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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