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Hardnosed Haley hurting legislative progress

Posted: May 29, 2012 9:48 a.m.
Updated: May 30, 2012 5:00 a.m.

If S.C. Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell suddenly makes a push for state funding of time machine technology, we’ll now know why.

It was no secret that Mr. McConnell did not want to give up his powerful Senate seat last March for the rather menial position of the state’s No. 2. But he did, and now the former senator must wear his purple robe as lieutenant governor until his term -- or, really, former Lt. Gov. Ken Ard’s term -- ends in 2014.

That all could have been avoided if a ballot measure set for the November general election had been put forward and approved years earlier. The measure calls for the lieutenant governor and governor to run jointly, consequently allowing any vacancy, like the one left by Ard after his resignation this spring, to be filled by the governor.

Having the state’s top two officials run on the same ticket would certainly be a sign of progress for South Carolina.

It’s an initiative that was pushed by former Gov. Mark Sanford and a campaign idea of both Nikki Haley and Vincent Sheheen during the 2010 governor’s race.

Should the measure be approved, the change won’t actually take effect until 2018, a date proposed in the S.C. Senate by Jake Knotts of Lexington. Knotts’ date change amendment drew the ire of Haley who said the senator’s actions were strictly politically driven and that the reform should take place in 2014.

On that note, the governor was right. Knotts tried to say Haley was taking the move too personally, but the two have had a long standing feud that almost certainly fueled the fire for Knotts to suggest the later date. The governor also blasted Knotts’ fellow senators for going along with the 2018 date, claiming they just didn’t “want the girl to have it.”   

“To have it go in front of the Senate, and then have them push it through, because they know it’s the will of the people, only to say ‘oh no, we don’t want the girl to have it. We want to wait until 2018 -- they are the ones taking it personally,” Haley said. 

On that criticism, the governor completely missed the mark. The senate’s decision was not some chauvinistic display. If anything, it was a reflection of the General Assembly’s attitude towards the governor and her leadership style, regardless of whether or not she’s a woman.   

Haley has stepped on the toes of many State House leaders, but in a way that’s provided few, if any, positive changes for the people of South Carolina.

She’s ruffled the feathers of probably every Democrat in the General Assembly and likely most Republicans as well, including McConnell and other state leaders like Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell and State Treasurer Curtis Loftis. Consequently, reforms that would be positive for the state get bogged down in partisan bickering.

Sanford faced his own General Assembly problems during his time as the state’s chief executive.

Perhaps the most memorable was the day he brought pigs to the State House and paraded them around to make a point about wasteful, “pork barrel” spending.

After the pigs defecated on the floor of the capital, members of the General Assembly were far from amused.

This same storyline of contention ran through all eight years of his tenure as governor. Even though the legislature was dominated by his own party, Sanford made few allies during his time in Columbia.

Haley, however, was one of the few Sanford groupies, even being described as a “Sanford protégé.”  

With each day she stays in office, that description just seems to ring truer and truer.   

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