SC Power Brokers


While it is unclear whether the old saying, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes,” makes good politics, it is clear the some campaigns adhere to it and other just don’t give a hoot. 

For the last few months, most of the Presidential campaigns in SC (any worth mentioning anyway) have been sifting through their legislative manuals and P-1 lists, arranging meetings and soliciting support.  McCain has put together a solid and very public list thus far.  Romney’s folks seem to prefer to keep their list a little closer to the vest, but have now released a big endorsement by our junior Senator, Jim DeMint. 

It does appear, however, that SC may have a few of its top political power brokers who are keeping their powder dry and holding their endorsements, for now. 

Perhaps this is nothing more than slobbering on the ole finger and sticking it in the wind, but a number of our state’s top leaders have yet to get in the game.  In the end, Governor Sanford and most of our Congressional Delegation could end up being the power brokers that seal the deal for the nominee in South Carolina.  Over the next few days, we will take a look at each of South Carolina’s power brokers to see if we can figure out just which way they might go in the end.

Today we highlight Congressman Jim Clyburn:

Above all others, Congressman Clyburn’s endorsement could be the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for the Democrat Primary in South Carolina.    In 2004, after Clyburn’s close friend and ally, Dick Gephardt, dropped out of the race; all roads led to Clyburn’s doorstep for Democrat hopefuls.  In February of 2004, Newsweek said of Clyburn,

“In South Carolina, they call him their third senator, but the way the presidential candidates are courting him, he might as well be king. It’s not just his distinguished presence—his salt-and-pepper hair or his years in state and federal government—that places James Clyburn on a political pedestal. He’s the most senior African-American politician in a state where about half the Democratic-primary voters are minorities.”

They went on to further gush:

“He’s the guy whose ring you’ve got to kiss in South Carolina.”

For Democrats hoping to take a shot at the White House in 2008, paying homage to Congressman Clyburn is high on the “to do” list.  Many political observers assume that if Senator Barack Obama throws his hat into the race that a Clyburn endorsement is not far behind, but we don’t think so.  Congressman Clyburn is as shrewd a politician as they come in South Carolina and just because both men are African Americans doesn’t mean the endorsement is a lock.  A similar example would be Clyburn’s endorsement of Senator John Kerry in 2004 over perceived hometown boy, John Edwards.  It is safe to say that Congressman Clyburn’s endorsement will be for the candidate who espouses the views in line with his own and for the candidate who best serves Jim Clyburn.

His endorsement this cycle will be even more coveted than years before, especially with Congressman Clyburn’s new power position in the House majority.  His rock star status among African American and white Democrats alike has risen even higher.  Throw in a dash of one of the best grassroots networks in the state and you got yourself a real power broker for the lucky man or woman who get his nod.

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