THIS WEEK'S TOP STORIES
Candidates say true Republicans need support
By Jackie R. Broach
U.S. First Congressional District candidate Carroll “Tumpy” Campbell III said he’s seen recent national failures in the Republican Party.
“But far worse is the one I witnessed right here,” he said this week, when he and Katherine Jenerette, the other candidate who will challenge Congressman Henry Brown in the Republican primary next year, campaigned at a meeting of the Waccamaw Neck Republican Club.
Campbell, a businessman and son of a former South Carolina governor, was referring to Brown’s close call in last year’s election. Brown beat Democrat Linda Ketner by a very small margin.
In a race for a seat that has been held by a Republican for 25 years, Campbell said that never should have happened and should serve as a wake-up call to members of the GOP.
“We should be winning this district by large margins, not barely squeaking by,” he said.
Jenerette, a history professor and Army veteran, said voters need a Congressman who will stand up for Republican values.
“When we vote for Republicans, we expect them to behave like Republicans” when they are elected to office, Jenerette said. “We listen to the candidates and vote for the person with the same ideas, values and morals as us. Then we go back about our lives, hoping the person we chose is doing all the right things, the things we’ve asked them to do. That’s not the response we’ve gotten.”
On that, she and Campbell were in agreement.
They also agreed about a need to rein in government spending.
Brown, who has served the First Congressional District since 2000, was not at the event, sending a representative from his office, Thomas Keegan, in his place.
Club officials said Brown had been called back to Washington, D.C., to attend to matters of Congress, but Keegan said a “conflict of a personal nature” kept Brown from the meeting.
Keegan spoke to the club on Brown’s behalf, but said there will be plenty of chances to hear from Brown in person as the primary nears.
“He’s available. He’s met with those folks before,” Keegan said. “He has a proven record and they know what it is.”
Campbell called for change in the party if it wants to survive and thrive.
“We don’t have to be the ‘old way of doing business’ party. We don’t have to be the ‘old way of thinking’ party,” he said. “We can turn it around and turn it around in a big way, but we’ve got to do things differently.”
Keegan agreed the GOP has to take the House and the Senate back from the Democrats, but “our problem is not Republicans,” he said.
Having worked with and observed Brown for a number of years, Keegan said Brown is exactly what the GOP needs right now.
Keegan said his experience as a police officer taught him to be observant and he’s observed a lot of good things about Brown.
“I’ve looked into his eyes, his soul and his heart,” he said. “He is a man of conviction, integrity and honesty. He’s a good family man. And all of his decisions are based upon those personal qualities.”
The race against Ketner was a close one, Keegan admitted, but Ketner was extremely well financed.
He said she reportedly spent $2 million on her campaign.
“And don’t forget the Obama factor,” Keegan warned.
“Something like 100,000 people in South Carolina who voted in that election had not voted before.”
Brown won by a small margin, Keegan said, “but he won.”
Campbell said he worries about what will happen if Brown is elected for one more term and leaves the seat open in 2012, when President Obama will again be on the ballot.
Jenerette said she hopes when voters select a Republican candidate, they “will remember talk is cheap.”
It’s easy for politicians to “sing with the choir and tell you what they will do when they get to Washington,” she said, urging voters to look closely at candidates’ resumés.
“Look at their work and see what they have done with their lives; who has the credibility,” she said. “I will take my résumé up against any candidate who wants to run against me.”