Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
In June of this year a true milestone was reached in South Carolina politics.
For the first time the voters defied the pundits and elitist Columbia powerbrokers and voted for someone who they thought would bring true reform to the tired Good Ole Boy system that has controlled South Carolina politics for generations. They voted overwhelmingly for Rep. Nikki Haley, a Republican from Lexington. They saw in her someone with whom they could identify.
Nikki is a first-generation daughter of immigrants who exemplifies the values and freedoms that this nation has afforded her. She is a working mother and a wife of a soldier who has learned to balance the family checkbook during tough times.
Nikki did not run for public office because she felt she was entitled; she ran because she saw a system that ceased being accountable to the citizens it was supposed to serve, a system badly in need of reform.
Nikki has been fighting for South Carolinians for years. When she won her seat in the statehouse she did so by defeating one of the longest serving and most powerful incumbents. Nikki hit the ground running and quickly acted to fulfill her campaign pledge to bring smaller, more accountable, more efficient and more transparent government to South Carolina.
Her first target was to make legislators accountable for their votes by mandating house votes be on the record rather than the traditional tactic of hiding behind unanimous consent and voice votes. To the average voter this may seem like a common sense proposal but it put her at odds with good ole boys in Columbia and ultimately resulted in her being stripped of her committee post. This action only strengthened her resolve and with her continued efforts on behalf of the taxpayers she was able to convince her House colleagues to join the fight for transparency and she prevailed.
When she announced her candidacy for governor, she promised to continue with her record of reform as the state’s first female chief executive. With better-funded and better-known candidates in the race, she was not given much of a chance. But as she crossed the state delivering her story and message of reform, it resonated with the voters.
I witnessed this first hand in April when she spoke in front of our county executive committee meeting. She turned a room of largely undecided voters into supporters. Three weeks later she won the Berkeley County GOP straw poll; two weeks after that Sarah Palin endorsed her and a 20-point poll deficit was eliminated.
It was about that time that the Columbia “Republican” elites went apoplectic. They took out their playbook of sleazy campaign smear tactics and began to unload on her. They questioned her fidelity, her faith and her finances. They proved time and time again their willingness to reach new lows in order to bring down Nikki’s surging candidacy.
Unfortunately (for them), they did not count on two factors. The first was that they were up against a candidate who has proven her mettle in battle and was not going to back down. And second and more importantly, they did not anticipate a newly energized and informed electorate that was intelligent enough to see through this pathetically transparent attempt to destroy the reform candidate.
Voters passionately joined her fight to reform Columbia. Moms, dads, military families, small business owners and working families know her as one of their own. Her message of more efficient and accountable government resonated. The voters answered the call and she won the primary with a historic plurality.
Now with one month until the general election, the “Republican” elites are at it again. Recently, a group of GOP “has beens” and “also rans” decided it would better serve their interests to back a liberal Democrat if that meant they could protect the status quo. They are not going to let a working mom from Lexington derail Columbia’s infamous Good Ole Boy money train without a fight.
So expect more arrows and mud to fly in the direction of Rep. Haley in the coming weeks. As always, I expect Nikki will prove her mettle and forge ahead, just as I expect the voters of South Carolina will reject these tired smear tactics and answer the call once more and elect Nikki Haley as the 116th Governor of South Carolina.
Mr. Callanan is the Berkeley County GOP Chairman and a Berkeley County Councilman.