Graham leaving Air Force ahead of run for commander in chief

Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at a U.S. base in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2008.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham announced last week he is retiring from the Air Force after 33 years — just ahead of his bid for commander-in-chief.

Graham, who carries the rank of colonel, will leave in June, which is the same month he plans to formally declare his likely GOP run for the White House.

His office did not respond to questions about the timing of his retirement or if it was linked to his presidential campaign plans.

Before being elected to Congress in 1994, Graham, a Republican, served 6 1/2 years as an Air Force lawyer. He later joined the S.C. Air National Guard before finishing in the reserves with the duty as a senior individual mobilization augmentee to the Judge Advocate General.

The S.C. African American Chamber of Commerce is urging black voters to study all the candidates for president this year, including Republicans.

“It’s no secret that African Americans almost always vote Democratic. As a consequence, our votes are often taken for granted by both major parties,” Chamber President Stephen Gilchrist said. “And when our votes are taken for granted, our issues are taken for granted.”

The chamber plans to develop an issues questionnaire for the candidates to fill out. The group will publish those responses in a voter’s guide ahead of the two party primaries in February.

“We hope black voters will keep an open mind and consider both parties. Yes, including even voting in the Republican presidential primary,” Gilchrist said.

The S.C. African American Chamber of Commerce dates to 2011 and has 1,750 members.

Government isn’t known for its rapid pace, but things have been slow in Columbia by any standard.

The blame? House Speaker Jay Lucas says it lies with the so-called deliberative body — the S.C. Senate. By any standard, senators have been moving at a positively glacial pace.

Lucas took the well for a rare speech on the issue last week. “Over the last few months we’ve rolled up our sleeves, we’ve put in the hours to move our state forward,” Lucas told his House colleagues. “Unfortunately, I can’t make the same statement regarding our friends across the hall.”

Regarding ethics reform, a top priority, Lucas said: “Sitting in the Senate lies dozens and dozens of unaddressed bills. We made it easy on the Senate.”

He also said senators should address transportation funding — another House bill that hasn’t yet passed the Senate.

Many senators have also been frustrated by the slow pace but have also complained about the quality of the House bills.

Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington, burned her fellow legislators on Thursday.

“I was at a press conference this morning, and I heard somebody say that they wanted three wise men to step forward,” Shealy said on the floor. “If we had more wise women in here, we probably wouldn’t be having this roads problem.”

Shealy was referring to a comment by Majority Leader Sen. Harvey Peeler, R-Gaffney, during a news conference on Thursday. Flanked by about 20 Senate Republicans, Peeler asked Shealy to step back to allow for the “three wise men” to step forward to answer reporters’ questions about a new roads funding proposal introduced Thursday.

Though Shealy said she knew Peeler was not trying to insult her — she said he meant for the one wise woman to stand back and the three men to step forward — she still wanted to clarify that if more women stood in the chamber South Carolina’s roads wouldn’t have reached such a deplorable state in the first place.

Shealy is the only female senator in the state Senate.