THIS WEEK'S TOP STORIES
Politics: Haley rallies GOP support for Goldfinch in House race
By Jason Lesley
Gov. Nikki Haley told Republicans gathered at the Hammock Shops for a rally last week that she needed a fighter in Columbia like Rep. Stephen Goldfinch, the incumbent in House District 108.
“I’m here for one person today, Stephen Goldfinch,” Haley told an audience gathered on the deck at Nosh restaurant and under the shops’ covered porches during a steady drizzle last Thursday during a “Republican Victory Rally” that also featured U.S. Sen. Tim Scott and U.S. Rep. Tom Rice. “I know Stephen’s opponent, Vida Miller. I know her very well. I served with her multiple years. She is a wonderful woman that I respect, but this is not about respect. This is about the fact I need fighters in Columbia. Stephen Goldfinch is a fighter.”
Haley referred to Goldfinch’s vote to uphold her veto of a bill to allow the Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire District board of directors to raise the millage in order to staff a new station and maintain its fire insurance rating. Directors said the millage increase would amount to about $20 per household, but the increase in fire insurance rates would be about $100. Sen. Ray Cleary and Rep. Nelson Hardwick, both Republicans, led a failed effort to override Haley’s veto. “We had an unelected board that tried to raise taxes,” Haley said. “Stephen Goldfinch, with pressure coming from Republicans and Democrats and from the establishment, fought that and said no. That’s why we need Stephen Goldfinch.”
Miller said this week that Goldfinch voted to override almost three-quarters of the governor’s vetoes this year and Haley opposed his vote to give legislators’ $12,000 more per year. “I really don’t know what to make of that remark,” Miller said, “unless she was talking about a different Stephen Goldfinch.”
Miller continued to use Goldfinch’s vote on the raise and his vote to override Haley’s veto as a campaign issue this week. “He could have voted to protect a $2 million, bipartisan bill that provides senior citizens the ability to stay in their own homes or he could vote to spend the same $2 million to raise his own pay by $12,000 a year,” she told clients at Georgetown Active Adult Day Care on Monday. “And he did not even vote on the bill to help senior citizens. People in this district deserve better than that.”
Haley said Miller “always tried to raise taxes” when she represented House District 108 and opposed legislation requiring official photo identification in order to vote. She said Goldfinch would protect voter ID.
Miller said Haley was misrepresenting her record. “With all due respect to the governor, my record as a tax cutter is crystal clear,” Miller said this week. “I voted to cut property taxes. I voted to cut income taxes. I voted to cut taxes on senior citizens and home-schoolers and small businesses. Heck, I voted to cut almost a billion dollars in taxes in my last two terms alone. And that’s not me talking, that’s my record, and I’m proud of it.” Miller said South Carolina’s voter ID law needs work. “That bill was so incompetently written that South Carolina is now the only voter ID state where you don’t actually have to have a picture ID to vote,” she said. “Seriously, all you have to do is tell the poll manager you were too busy to get one, and then they have to let you vote. That’s dumb. We need a smart, fair, effective voter ID law, and if I’m elected, I’ll work hard to make sure we have one.”
Haley told the Republican audience at the Hammock Shops the District 108 race is close with just over a month until the election. Miller said polling indicated each side had about 40 percent of the vote with the undecided segment left to determine the outcome. Miller’s supporters lined Highway 17 north and south of the Hammock Shops for Haley’s visit with hand-painted signs reminiscent of the cows’ Chick-fil-A advertising campaign “Eat More Chicken” asking voters to reject Goldfinch. Her supporters made a video of the GOP rally in order to craft a response.
Haley encouraged Republicans to keep working until Election Day, Nov. 4. “Forty days out you get tired, you get beaten up,” Haley said. “The press is beating on you; your opponents are beating up on you; and everybody is getting waffly and nervous. I don’t want us to get waffly and nervous on Stephen. I’m here to tell you he’s what I need. I saw him take heat. I saw him get threats. I saw them tell him what would happen if he didn’t follow the rules, but he fought for you anyway.”
Haley told Republicans at the rally to e-mail their friends about voting for Goldfinch. “Agree with everybody that says Miss Vida is a great woman, but that’s not what we need in Columbia. We need fighters.”
Goldfinch told the rally crowd that his goals were to make government smaller and lower taxes while creating jobs. “Jobs make people,” he said. “Good wages make people. Faith makes people. Government destroys people. Government gets in the way of every one of our successes every single time, and we have to start getting control of it.”
Rice said he had kept his pledge to work on jobs for the state’s new Seventh Congressional District by pushing for permits for the extension of Highway 31 and Interstate 73 and making the port of Georgetown eligible for dredging funds. He said he wants to take Haley’s attitude of competitiveness to Washington. “Hey,” he said, “we have to compete in the world.”
Scott said the nation needs very strong leadership more than ever. Scott said he had fought “tooth and nail” for a balanced budget amendment, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had said no, and resistance to border security has opened the way for terrorists to enter the country.
“Common sense,” he said, “is not in vogue in Washington.”
WHS students get lesson in party values
Gov. Nikki Haley told members of the Waccamaw High School Young Republican Club last week that she didn’t know if she was a Republican or a Democrat when she decided to run for the state House.
“I knew I needed to get to Columbia because they had way too many lawyers there, and we needed some business people to straighten it out,” she said.
Haley spoke to the club members and other students at Waccamaw High before she attended a rally at the Hammock Shops to promote Republican Stephen Goldfinch, a Murrells Inlet lawyer, seeking re-election to the state House from District 108.
Haley said she learned the value of a dollar when she started keeping the books for her family’s business in Bamburg at age 13. “One thing that always bothered me was how hard it was to make a dollar and how easy it was for government to take it,” she said. “I would complain, and my parents would say: ‘Don’t complain. Do something about it.’”
Haley said she told a friend that she didn’t know which party to join. The friend asked, “Do you think that government should decide how you live or do you think people should decide? Do you think government should decide how you spend your money or should you decide?” She convinced Haley that she was a Republican.
Haley said she didn’t know the political rule that young upstarts were not supposed to challenge long-time incumbents before she won a seat in the state House. “Ignorance was bliss,” she told the students.
She found the Statehouse to be “massive chaos” when she arrived in Columbia. She was most offended by the legislative system of voting “aye” or “nay” by voice and never getting on the record. “You never really knew how people voted,” she said. “It all came to a head one day when they read a bill that would give legislators pay raises. All in favor, say ‘Aye;’ all opposed say ‘Nay.’ To this day you cannot find one legislator who says they voted themselves a pay raise. I was so upset that I went to my Republican speaker and said this is why people don’t trust us. We are Republicans. This is not what we are supposed to do.”
Haley said she filed a bill requiring votes to be on the record the next day. She said legislative leaders stripped her of committee assignments and blackballed her bills. When she was elected governor, on-the-record voting was the first thing she passed.
Haley told the students to reject labels. “Call your party out for not doing right,” Haley said. “That’s really moving the ball. That’s public service.”
Bobby Walters and Rachel Thornton, founders of the Waccamaw Young Republican Club, welcomed Haley and Goldfinch to the school. “It’s our duty as citizens to be engaged in the political process,” Walters told his fellow students. “You might be a Republican and not even know, so we encourage everyone to come and learn more.”