If there was a trend to glean from the 2010 party filings, which wrapped last week for both Democrats and Republicans, it's the large number of rank and file Republicans looking to jump into office: 12 Congressional candidates between the two seats representing Charleston and 23 GOP candidates for nine statewide races. Meanwhile, Democratic primaries that started out looking like bruising battles have largely puttered out — for most statewide races, the party has fielded only one candidate.
Jeri Cabot, a political science professor at the College of Charleston, says the Democrats are conserving their resources. "They're actively out there encouraging those individuals they think will make good candidates and discouraging weaker candidates as much as they can," she says. "It's in their interest to allow the Republicans to beat up each other."
The political landscape has changed in the past two years, but Cabot isn't convinced that the untested tea party conservatives among the GOP candidates will make it to the November ballot.
"They'll do better, but I don't think they'll be victorious," she says.
U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint is going to be hard to beat, but there will be a choice on the ballot — both in the June GOP primary (against Susan Gaddy) and again in November (against either Charleston County Councilman Vic Rawl or Alvin Greene).
Nine GOP candidates have filed to replace retiring Congressman Henry Brown. Buzz has focused on lobbyist Carroll Campbell and Charleston County Councilman Paul Thurmond — due to the pedigree — as well as state Rep. Tim Scott. But it's good to be the underdog this year. Don't count out Ken Glasson, Katherine Jenerette, Larry Kobrovsky, Mark Lutz, Clark Parker, and Stovall Witte just yet. Ret. Air Force Col. Robert Burton will face perennial candidate Ben Frasier in the Democratic primary.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, one of the most prominent Democratic faces on healthcare reform in the run-up to the vote last month, is facing primary challenger Gregory Brown. Three Republicans are running to beat the odds in the largely Democratic district, including Nancy Harrelson, who ran and lost in 2008, along with Colleen Payne and Jim Pratt.
It will likely be the gubernatorial race that drives most South Carolinians to the polls this year. The four-person GOP primary has Congressman Gresham Barrett, Lt. Gov. André Bauer, state Rep. Nikki Haley, and Attorney General Henry McMaster. Democrats will pick from Robert Ford, Jim Rex, or Vincent Sheheen. There are no sure winners, yet. Haley and Barrett need to keep up the momentum over the next two months. Ford needs a miracle.
Two state office holders, both Republicans, will face primary challenges in June. Treasurer Converse Chellis is being challenged by Curtis Loftis and Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom will face Mike Meilinger. Charleston Democrat Robert Barber, who ran a close race against Bauer for lieutenant governor in 2008, will take on the winner in November.
Among Statehouse races, Democrats David Mack, Wendell Gilliard, and Seth Whipper, as well as Republicans Chip Limehouse and House Speaker Bobby Harrell are running unopposed. Mike Sottile will have to defend his seat again in the June primary against fellow Republican Joe Bustos.
In the past two election cycles, local Democrats were able to snag two reliable GOP seats. Both Dems are going to have tough campaigns in 2010. Two-term Rep. Leon Stavrinakis will face Republican Lee Edwards representing West Ashley. Freshman incumbent Rep. Anne Peterson Hutto will face GOP challenger Peter McCoy and Green Party candidate Eugene Platt.
In the race to represent Charleston County, sitting Councilmen Joe McKeown, Dickie Schweers, and Teddie Pryor are running unopposed. There are six Democrats in the race to represent District 8, but the real excitement is in the GOP primary, with Fran Roberts and Johns Island farmer Thomas Legare Jr.
For a complete list of candidates, visit the Rock Bottom election blog at charlestoncitypaper.com