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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-16-07 07:54 PM
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Political Woes Dog Republicans Across the South
The Wall Street Journal

Political Woes Dog Republicans Across the South
Infighting and Scandals Could Undermine Party In Longtime Stronghold
July 16, 2007; Page A1

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The Republican-led South Carolina legislature was in the final throes of a bitter session last month when word of criminal charges against a high-ranking state official swept through both chambers. A federal grand jury had just handed up an indictment against Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, scion of one of the state's leading political families, for allegedly distributing cocaine. Mr. Ravenel, who had recently defeated a Democratic incumbent who held the office for 36 years, was the statewide chairman for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign, in what has historically been a decisive early primary state.

The indictment is just one of the political headaches across the South that are making Republicans look more vulnerable than they have in years to losing ground in the region's legislatures and statehouses. Though there isn't any sign of them losing their dominance in the region, the once-formidable "Solid South" coalitions they forged in the 1980s and 1990s to end a century of Democratic dominion have given way to messy schisms and infighting. Today, they look a lot like the bitterly divided Democrats of three decades ago.


Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue recently vetoed a property-tax rebate and much of the budget crafted by Republican House and Senate leaders, and killed pet projects in House leaders' districts. House leaders said the vetoes seemed personally motivated. The Republican governor has said there should be no lasting hard feelings. "You can get from point A to B and disagree on what roads to take, but we all want to get to the same place," said Bert Brantley, Mr. Perdue's spokesman. In Mississippi, Gov. Haley Barbour has clashed with his fellow Republican lieutenant governor and party legislators over a push to swap an increase in the cigarette tax for a cut in the state's comparatively high sales tax on food. Gov. Barbour opposed the idea out of concern about changing the tax structure as the state continued to recover from Hurricane Katrina.


Last year, Democrats picked up a total of 25 seats in Southern legislative races, their first net gain since 1982, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Kentucky, a recent poll of 693 registered voters by InsiderAdvantage, showed half of independent voters and nearly a third of women voters were undecided about the governor's race, an ominous sign for Republican incumbent Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who got a big boost from independents the first time around.


Democrats already have seized on the elder Mr. Ravenel's longstanding support of flying the Confederate flag at the South Carolina state capitol, and on references he made in 2000 to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Mr. Ravenel referred to the NAACP as the "National Association for Retarded People." Mr. Ravenel said yesterday he wasn't sorry about his remarks but didn't mean to give offense to the retarded. He has previously said that he mistakenly transposed the name of the civil-rights organization with an advocacy group for the mentally disabled with which he worked in the past.


The Republican turmoil has raised some Democratic hopes that parts of the South may no longer be as lockstep in support of the Republican Party. But Donald L. Fowler, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and the husband of Carol Khare Fowler, South Carolina's Democratic Party chairwoman, cautions that Republican fatigue doesn't yet necessarily portend broad Democratic comebacks, particularly in South Carolina. He says it would require a major demographic shift, such as an influx of people from other parts of the country, and a major economic change, such as a depression, to change the landscape. "At least where we are now, Democrats don't have the wherewithal to take advantage of the split in the Republican Party," Mr. Fowler said.

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AndyTiedye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-16-07 08:07 PM
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1. I'm Afraid the South Will Be Solid Republican Once They See Who Our Nominee Is
unless there are some big changes in the Democratic primary race between now and next summer!
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defendandprotect Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-16-07 08:18 PM
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2. Have we set the South free yet -- the women?????
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AtomicKitten Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-16-07 08:21 PM
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3. ah, that's a shame
make way for the Blue Tsunami
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