HICKS COLUMN: On the Berkeley RINO hunt

Bob Call

So last week the Berkeley County Republican Party announced that there would be a debate for their only contested primary race: the District 3 County Council seat.

Incumbent Councilman Bob Call later informed Post and Courier reporter Brenda Rindge that there was no debate — he hadn't heard of one, and wasn't participating.

The paper ran a carefully worded correction that said the “candidates do not have a debate scheduled” — you know, seeing as how it takes two to tangle.

The Berkeley GOP insisted there would be a debate, that neither Call nor the paper had the right to cancel the event. The paper ran a blurb reaffirming the debate, but noted Call wasn't participating.

Of course, then Call wanted a correction.

Monday night, Berkeley Republicans hosted a District 3 event without Call. They called it a “candidate forum.” Or, for the uninitiated, Berkeley County politics as usual.

Tim Callanan, the Berkeley GOP chairman and county councilman, is frustrated. He says Call has been invited to three events and has failed to show for any of them.

“The fact is, with only one contested race on the ballot, turnout is going to be low,” Callanan says. “You'd think he'd want to try to court the Republican activists.”

Call says he never attends Republican executive committee events, and never received invites. He says the party wants him gone.

Call claims the GOP is mad because he sometimes votes with the two African-American members of County Council, who are Democrats. Even though most county issues have nothing to do with partisan politics — it's more urban versus rural interests, and Call largely represents suburban areas.

Callanan, who is often on the opposite side of Call, says the party doesn't take a position in primaries. And he should know. Callanan resigned his post to endorse Rick Santorum in the presidential primary. He was later voted back into the job.

There are some hard-core politics on Berkeley County Council, a place where members have accused other members of threatening to burn their houses down, where the county Republicans have censured Republicans on council for supporting a Democrat.

So who do you believe? Take a side — everyone else does.

Call isn't paranoid — someone is out to get him.

Last week, some yahoos went around the county and put up signs next to his that had arrows and the word “RINO,” which stands for Republican in Name Only.

Callanan says the party has nothing to do with the signs, that they are the work of SC RINO Hunt, a real organization. Because lacking any Democrats, Republicans have to have someone to fight, even if it's each other.

Voters were so mad about these attacks, Call says, that he raised $5,000 on Monday alone. So maybe he will get the last laugh.

In fact, most people probably find this quite amusing — except for Berkeley County Republicans, who are caught in their own little civil war.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com or follow him on Twitter at @BriHicks_PandC.