Skip to comments.S.C. senate race rated a 'tossup'
Posted on 12/04/2003 1:50:49 PM PST by Holly_P
Inez Tenenbaum offers Democrats their best hope of hanging on to the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Fritz Hollings, experts say.
The only question is, can the state superintendent of education pull it off in a state that has been trending Republican for the past 10 years?
The GOP holds the governorship, controls both houses of the General Assembly and has a lock on four of the states six congressional seats, as well as the other U.S. Senate post.
Tenenbaum faces a tough road.
In South Carolina in 2004, shes going to have an uphill fight, Winthrop University political scientist Scott Huffmon says. But she is probably best suited to make that climb.
Surprisingly, though, the outcome of the Senate contest is far from certain.
The four announced Republican candidates U.S. Rep. Jim DeMint of Greenville, former Attorney General Charlie Condon of Sullivans Island, Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride and Charleston real estate developer Thomas Ravenel have failed to excite the GOP faithful.
That list has prompted some Republicans to recruit former Gov. David Beasley, who is giving the race a serious look. Initially, they approached former Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler, but he declined.
Many South Carolina Republicans dont think any of the four current candidates can beat Tenenbaum, and there is GOP polling data to support their concerns.
Consultant Richard Quinn took a survey recently of 300 registered S.C. voters, and it showed Beasley as the only Republican beating Tenenbaum.
Both parties have targeted the race. It is key to determining control of the closely divided Senate, where Republicans hold a 51-48 edge, with one independent who is aligned with the Democrats.
Tenenbaum faces nominal primary opposition from political newcomer Marcus Belk of Camden.
DeMint has angered some prominent Republican legislators and business leaders with his support for free trade measures in the House. Among them are Roger Milliken of Spartanburg, president and chief executive officer of Milliken Inc., and Roger Chastain, president of Mount Vernon Mills.
Some have threatened to endorse Tenenbaum if DeMint is the GOP nominee.
Tenenbaum, who won more votes in the 2002 election than any Democrat has ever won in South Carolina, would become the states first female senator if victorious. She would join a growing number of female senators from the South, including Republican Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Democrats Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.
Already, Republicans have geared up to label Tenenbaum as a liberal. The state GOP regularly issues press releases that refer to Tenenbaum as ultra-liberal.
And she will quickly discover that she will have to address an entirely different set of issues in a federal race from those she faced when she ran for state office.
Those issues will force her left, undercutting her general election appeal, said Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.
Her victories as state superintendent of education wont mean much next year if her GOP opponent paints her as a liberal, the way now-Sen. Lindsey Graham did to Democrat Alex Sanders in the states 2002 Senate race, Rothenberg said. Shell have to figure out a way to avoid that tag.
The South Carolina race is rated a tossup by Washington-based political analyst Charlie Cook. University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato says it leans Republican.
If Republicans succeed in making the liberal label stick to Tenenbaum, it will be very hurtful in South Carolina, Huffmon said. He characterized her as probably the underdog.
But, he added, Ive seen a lot of upsets.
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Look for Beasley to announce right after Christmas. The former Gov. has the name recognition and actually will pull some Dem voters to his ballot.
She's a Methodist; her husband is Jewish. I'm not sure what someone's religion has to do with this. Perhaps you think being Jewish should disqualify someone from public office.
Here we go again. The liberal media must have this article saved on its hard drives. Come election time, it just changes the names of the candidates. In '99, we heard plenty about how none of the Republican presidential candidates were exciting the party faithful, but Bush certainly ended up doing so.
Inez Tenenbaum is a pro-abortion, anti-gun Hillary clone. Like almost every other Democrat running for statewide office in a Republican state, she'll find it almost impossible to distance herself from the national party, particularly when the Democratic presidential nominee (probably Howard Dean) is a New England liberal and Bush-hater.
He gets some credibility because he has a personal grudge against Fritz Hollings (not a man who is difficult to dislike).
I think DeMint will get the nomination and win the state.
In politics, sometimes having lost can give you an edge. In his re-election campaign, against Hodges, the GOP initially took the election for granted. Then when DB tried a compromise position on the flag, he was attacked by conservatives. Then the gambling money came in bigtime for Hodges. A lot of people I have spoken to (now that Hodges became a one term gov.) think that DB should have had that second term. This has happened to numerous pols, including Nixon, and Slickmeister himself.
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