Age over party

State Rep. Bakari Sellers is not only hoping to become the first Democrat elected statewide in more than five years, but he's also seeking to become the state's first African-American lieutenant governor since 1872.

But the Bamberg Democrat isn't playing up the partisan angle on the campaign trail.

"I'm tired of people talking about Democrats and Republicans," Sellers said during a campaign stop in North Charleston last week. "Maybe that's just my youthful naivete."

"It's not about red or blue," he added. "It's just about being a South Carolinian."

Meanwhile, Sellers is drawing a contrast with his GOP challenger and former S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster over age. If elected, Sellers will be 30 when he takes office, while McMaster will be 67.

He also is not talking about how he could become one of the first African Americans elected in a statewide race here in more than a century, though polls show that Sen. Tim Scott is even more of a favorite to break that barrier on Nov. 4.

Stavrinakis to be honored

Now that this year's legislative session is in the books, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce is holding an event Tuesday to thank local lawmakers -and it will pay special tribute to state Rep. Leon Stavrinakis.

The Charleston Democrat is scheduled to receive the Glenn McConnell Elected Leader Award, given to a member of the tri-county legislative delegation who the chamber feels has mirrored McConnell's leadership qualities, has worked to create jobs and has worked in a bipartisan way.

Stavrinakis served on Charleston County Council before being elected to the House in 2006, and he has won re-election several times despite being a Democrat in a largely Republican district.

Stavrinakis also is among several possible candidates who may run for mayor of Charleston in November 2015, though he might wait to enter that race until he wins re-election to a fifth House term on Nov. 4.

Speaking of honors...

House Assistant Democratic Leader and Rep. James Clyburn will receive the Johnnie L Cochran, Jr. Soaring Eagle Award today during a ceremony with the American Association for Justice in Baltimore.

The award - named in honor of the late defense lawyer whose clients included O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson - is given to those who have made important contributions to the legal profession in paving the way for others. Earlier South Carolina recipients have included the late U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Perry, Jr.

Clyburn said he was honored to receive the award and pleased to help the association diversify the legal profession. "I have worked my entire professional career to exceed expectations and achieve some degree of success," he said. "My life has been full of some significant experiences, not all pleasant, but all of which I consider blessings."

Graham takes aim at Putin

During a visit to Greenville last week, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters how the United States and its allies should squeeze Russian president Vladimir Putin in the wake of Russia's complicity in the shooting down of a passenger jet over eastern Ukraine.

In a phrase, it's all about the Benjamins.

"We should name him as a world bad actor, put him on the sanctions list, make sure that no American banks or international banks could accept his money," Graham said, according to "He has ripped his people off."

Graham said Europe cannot take the lead on Russian sanctions because its nations are too politically fragmented and dependent on Russian natural gas and oil. But he said he wants the United States to begin sending natural gas to Europe to help change that.

"How do you expect change when there is no action that will bring about change?" Graham said. "Putin is not going to respond to criticism and being considered an outlier in the international community. He's very comfortable with the position he's taken. He believes he is winning, and he is."

Governor Schwag

Gov. Nikki Haley has a slight lead over her Democratic challenger in the polls, and she has an even bigger lead over state Sen. Vincent Sheheen when it comes to online retail.

Haley's campaign announced last week to that it has activated its "Haley for Governor merchandise page," where supporters not only can make campaign contributions but also buy their own yard signs, T-shirts and koozies.