Former Riley opponent bows out of upcoming mayoral race

John Tecklenburg

Former state Rep. Jimmy Bailey won't throw his hat in the ring for the 2015 Charleston mayoral race because of the time it would take away from his family.

Bailey, who ran against Mayor Joe Riley in 2003, said in a letter he is concerned about a host of issues facing the city but, instead, will offer to support whoever becomes the city's next mayor.

Bailey's letter said he'd been giving the race a lot of thought but "it became clear to me that I really did not want to give up so many things, such as picking up my grandchildren on a regular basis and watching them grow.

"I remembered going through the same agonizing thoughts when I went on to the General Assembly and how much I missed out on with my children while I was in Columbia six months of the year."

Meanwhile, the only announced candidate, Charleston businessman John Tecklenburg, continued to consolidate support from the Lowcountry's Democratic base. He announced last week he has the endorsement of former U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings.

For those in the know, this announcement is no surprise: Tecklenburg's father Henry was one of Hollings' close friends and advisors, and John Tecklenburg managed Hollings' last re-election campaign in 1998.

Tecklenburg said he was honored by Hollings' nod, adding, "Sen. Hollings is a true statesman, a model public servant and a role model of mine."

A lot of names have been floated as possible mayor candidates, as Riley has said he won't seek re-election to an 11th term. Some may wait until after this fall's elections to declare their intentions.

The Charleston County Republican Party last week went on record as supporting making state voters register by party choice, such as Republican, Democrat or unaffiliated.

The purpose is try to prevent voters who aren't true advocates of a party platform from taking part in the candidate selection process.

The idea has been around for a while. Advocates say it would prevent "saboteur" voters from other parties trying to taint the process by crossing over.

"It ensures the dignity of the primary system," Charleston County Party Chairman John Steinberger said.

If the effort passes the Statehouse, each party could also potentially decide whether to allow cross-over, or "unaffiliated," voters to take part in their primary picks. Republicans, though, are fearful of tampering.

"The South Carolina Republican Party, as the majority party, is vulnerable to those who wish to assume affiliation with the Republican party to run for office, but do not support its principles," the Charleston resolution says.

Charleston Democratic Party Chairman Brady Quirk-Garvan doesn't support the idea, saying people should be able to vote where they please and that state election laws should support, not limit more people taking part.

"This is another example of Republicans trying to discourage people from voting," he said.

State Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston, said he plans to have a public comment session on the idea before the session starts in January.

Virginia's Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe last week took part in a conference call with South Carolina party members meant to help fundraising and give pep-talk support ahead of the governor's race here.

While S.C. Democratic leaders were reluctant to give details, the goal was to encourage Democrats that they can chalk up a "Blue" state win if Sen. Vincent Sheheen can overcome Gov. Nikki Haley in what otherwise is an overwhelming "Red" state.

"It was a private call with stakeholders," S.C. Democratic Party communications director Kristin Sosanie said afterward. Between 20 and 50 people were listening-in. "They talked about a number of things," Sosanie said.

Republicans, meanwhile, took shots at McAuliffe's involvement, noting he was co-chairman of Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign, was chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and led Hillary Clinton's unsuccessful 2008 White House bid.

"South Carolina Democrats say Gov. Terry McAuliffe has a 'playbook' for South Carolina. Vincent Sheheen must be studying the same playbook given his support of higher taxes, job-killing regulations, and more Obamacare," S.C. GOP Chairman Matt Moore said.

Newsweek magazine and Politico report that a Washington dinner planned in honor of Mignon Clyburn, a Federal Communications Commissioner and daughter of S.C. Democrat U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, has raised the spectre of conflicting interests.

Comcast and Time Warner Cable are seeking the FCC's approval of their $45 billion merger, and the two companies collectively donated $132,000 to a dinner in her honor hosted by the Walter Kaitz Foundation.

Comcast, which donated $110,000 to the event, said it had "long standing financial commitments" to the organization and the person being honored was irrelevant to that, according to the magazine, which also quoted Carrie Levine with the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

"They're honoring an FCC commissioner at the same time they're trying to get approval for a merger. And that doesn't look so good," Levine told Politico.

Time Warner Cable also sponsored the dinner at $22,000. Comcast added, "We absolutely dispute the notion that our contributions have anything to do with currying favor with Commissioner Clyburn or any honoree. Such claims are insulting and not supported by any evidence. They are purely fiction."

Thomas Ravenel, the millionaire developer and reality TV star running against U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, deflected questions about his own headline-grabbers by turning toward his opponent, The Anderson Independent Mail reported.

Speaking to tea party voters in Greenville last week, Ravenel, 52, tried to deflect away from areas that include his felony cocaine conviction, his New York DUI plea and his role as a cast member and new father with his girlfriend on the "Southern Charm" reality show.

"My personal life is my problem," the independent candidate said. "Lindsey Graham's public life is your problem - is everybody's problem."

Ravenel added, "We need to fundamentally change the structure of the federal government. Just changing personnel won't do it."

Also in the race are Democrat Brad Hutto and Libertarian Victor Kocher.

Republican Attorney General Alan Wilson will speak at the "We Stand With Israel" rally today, sponsored by the Charleston Jewish Federation.

The event will be held at 5:30 p.m. at Synagogue Emanu-El, 5 Windsor Drive, Charleston. It is open to the public.

The rally is billed as an opportunity for South Carolinians to show their commitment to the Jewish state.

"There is no better friend to the United States and to South Carolina than the nation of Israel," Wilson said in a media release.