‘Leave altar of gun lobby’ Whipper asks S.C. lawmakers

Rep. Seth Whipper, D-North Charleston, wants the South Carolina Statehouse to break away from the gun lobby’s control.

State Rep. Seth Whipper, D-North Charleston, is one of the quieter members of the Statehouse.

But last week he made an impassioned but futile attempt to stop his colleagues from giving final approval to a bill that prevents the state from enforcing federal gun laws that took effect this year.

The Second Amendment Preservation Act was given final approval primarily on a party line vote that sent it to the Senate where it’s expected to gain little traction.

But knowing that votes for the bill would likely remain unchanged, Whipper and several other Democrats pleaded with the House not to pass it.

Several Lowcountry lawmakers, including Whipper, fear the bill will make it so that the state cannot enforce any potential future laws that Congress enacts that aim to close the so-called “Charleston loophole,” which made it possible for alleged Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylann Roof to get hold of a gun when he shouldn’t have been allowed to.

Whipper wanted his colleagues to think about what they were doing.

“We really need to respect what happened in this state,” he told his colleagues. “I think it’s time for this General Assembly, and general assemblies of the South in general, to leave the altar of the powerful gun lobby.”

The bill passed with 69 votes on Wednesday and 64 on Thursday.

On both days, 22 lawmakers abstained from voting.

Charleston County Republican Party Chairman Larry Kobrovsky says U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham owes an apology to South Carolina voters who backed Donald Trump in last month’s GOP primary.

And one for Ted Cruz, too.

Kobrovsky said Graham, R-S.C., was out of line in comments he made a week ago during a dinner with a group of Washington journalists and insiders.

While acting as a host at the Washington Press Club Foundation’s annual congressional dinner, Graham said he was disgusted with the GOP’s expanding embrace of Trump. “My party has gone bat---- crazy,” he said.

Of Cruz, the presidential hopeful and U.S. senator from Texas, Graham said, “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate and the trial was in the Senate, nobody could convict you.”

While the night is traditionally filled with roasts and gags, Kobrovsky said joking about killing another U.S. senator isn’t funny. Neither is questioning the mental capacity of the 240,000 people who voted for Trump in the S.C. primary.

“I’m not looking for a fight with him, but respectfully, he’s better than that,” Kobrovsky said of Graham.

Graham had launched his own 2016 bid for the White House before dropping out. He then endorsed Jeb Bush, who ended his race after a distant fourth-place showing in South Carolina.

More than 165,000 people voted for Cruz in the South Carolina primary. “There are certain places you don’t go (talking) about shooting people,” Kobrovsky said.

Graham did concede after Super Tuesday that Cruz may be the only candidate left who can stop Trump and it might be time to rally around him.

There’s no question more South Carolinians are registered to vote, but getting them to actually vote in another kettle of fish.

Unless they vote early.

Joe Debney, executive director of the Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration, recently compiled turnout numbers for general elections going back to 2004 — not long after the state made registering to vote an easier affair by letting people sign up at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Since then, registration in the county has risen from 186,266 in 2004 to 248,911 in 2012, the last presidential election year — a 34 percent increase that far outpaced the county’s population growth.

But the number of residents who actually voted rose only from 136,493 to 162,836 — an increase of 19 percent. And almost all of that increase stemmed from those who voted absentee.

While Charleston County saw 125,145 votes on Election Day in 2004, that rose only to 125,831 on Election Day 2012.

There’s a second Democrat running for the 1st Congressional District currently held by Republican Mark Sanford.

Ben Garves, a project manager at Benefitfocus, says he’s been in the running since mid-January.

Garves has lived in the Charleston area for about a year and has never held office before. He got in the race before the other Democrat running, activist Dimitri Cherny, announced.

Garves said he wanted to run to give voters a choice at a time Sanford looked to go unchallenged.

Like Cherny, Garves, 27, endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. He also is an atheist, something he conceded may be a strike against him with the electorate.

Compiled by reporters Cynthia Roldan, Schuyler Kropf and Robert Behre.