Will the GOP have a Charleston mayoral candidate?


While the city of Charleston’s mayoral race is nonpartisan, most candidates have a lengthy resume of involvement with a particular party — mostly the Democratic party.

That’s not surprising: Mayor Joe Riley, who has held the office since 1975 but who isn’t seeking re-election, was elected as a Democrat until the city moved to nonpartisan races.

What is a bit surprising is that the Republicans might not field a candidate who leans their way. The one candidate in the race who had GOP credentials was former City Councilman Henry Fishburne, but Fishburne announced last week he would withdraw.

That leaves the race without a GOP-leaning contender — at least for now. And it also left South Carolina GOP Chair Matt Moore unhappy.

“I am extremely disappointed in the Charleston County GOP leadership for not having a Republican in the mayoral race,” Moore said. “It’s a huge disservice to Republicans.”

Charleston County Republican Chair John Steinberger noted Moore “didn’t have the decency to call” him before voicing his complaint. “Filing hasn’t even started yet, so that’s just a ridiculous assertion,” Steinberger added.

Also, Steinberger said he has been talking with former City Councilman Maurice Washington —who has run for mayor and run for other offices as a Democrat, a Republican and an independent — as a possible candidate.

“He’s exploring it,” Steinberger said of Washington. “His philosophies and Henry’s philosophies are very similar.”

It got heated last week on the floor of the Senate, as Sen. Tom Corbin, R-Travelers Rest, a strident gun rights advocate said abusers don’t need guns to injure or kill a spouse, an ex or partner. Abusers could run over their partner with a car or “beat them with a baseball bat.”

Said Corbin: “We need more Jesus in the world for that; to fix that.” To which Sen. Joel Lourie, who is Jewish, joked that for some reason he didn’t agree with Corbin’s statements.

And hysteria busted out on the floor of the Senate.

Once Lourie realized Corbin had not caught on, he continued the banter with Corbin, who apparently was unaware of the Columbia Democrat’s faith until Lourie joked that he and New York’s former Mayor Michael Bloomberg attend the same synagogue.

“You go to a synagogue?” Corbin asked surprised. “Bless your heart. Bless your heart, senator.”

Lourie later said that it was clear Corbin did not intend to insult him, Corbin just wasn’t “knowledgeable” about Lourie’s faith. And what was crossing Lourie’s mind when he and Corbin were going back and forth on the floor?

“Poor fella is doing the best he can with what he has,” Lourie said.

While U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s presidential exploration has not come close to catapulting him into the upper tiers, it has received some positive — if rather technical — recognition.

A new report by Campaign Legal Center says nearly all of the 2016 presumed candidates are breaking old Federal Election Commission regulations, with little if any push-back from the commission, the government’s watchdog over election spending.

These regulations pertain to rules for “testing the waters,” including telephone calls and travel expenses to determine candidacy, polling expenses, establishing and staffing offices, and meetings with state party leaders.

The center concludes that only two potential presidential candidates are following FEC regulations regarding declaring a presidential exploratory committee and fundraising within contribution limits “and (these two) should be exemplified.”

One is former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia. The other? Lindsey Graham.

Palmetto Politics is assembled by The Post and Courier staff, including Schuyler Kropf in Charleston.