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THIS FIRST — NOT VERY WELCOME — State officials had planned to turn over operations of some state welcome centers to local tourism groups by Sept. 1, but that timeline has been extended as the state works out the details with interested groups. In July, officials with the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism announced that, because of state budget cuts, they could no longer pay to operate the nine centers. The centers, mostly along state borders, offer travelers information about S.C. attractions and hotels.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY — I love the 80s: Richard Gere and Debbie Gibson, plus looking for a wild wild night, Van Morrison
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NATIONAL LENS — IN PLAY — As chief recruiter of Republican U.S. House candidates, Kevin McCarthy spends his time searching the campaign trail for Elvis, the Grand Ole Opry and a path to a congressional majority for his party. With House Republicans vying to regain control of the chamber they lost to the Democrats in 2006, the strength of challengers McCarthy has enlisted will determine whether the party can capture the net 39 seats it needs to succeed.
BEHIND THE WHEEL — Business leaders and U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn will discuss a proposed federal transportation bill to fix the state’s aging roads and bridges. The Associated General Contractors of America said in a release that a news conference will be held on Tuesday to discuss a nationwide campaign to garner support for a transportation bill. The purpose of the bill would be to fix deteriorating bridges and roads while providing jobs.
START TO DUCK — The New START Treaty, a treaty signed between the U.S. and Russia, is promoted by the Obama Administration as a means toward a reduction of nuclear weapons between the nations. Senator Richard Lugar (R–IN) is the only Republican to pledge support to date, and any prediction of this controversial treaty passing in a lame duck session after the November elections may be wishful thinking. Missile defense is going to be a sticking point and may lead to this treaty’s downfall. As Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) argued that the treaty has many failings, and with regard to missile defense, this treaty may render the U.S. unable to defend against a missile attack:
DELA-SCARE — The results have not even been finalized in the quirky Alaska Republican Senate primary and already the political world is bracing itself for another instance in which an out-of-nowhere Tea Party candidate derails the highly-favored establishment contender. On Monday, Democratic and Republican operatives alike expressed interest and consternation (respectively) over the possibility that Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) could be the next victim of the purity purge inside the GOP tent.
UH OH JOE — Congressional investigators are questioning a half-dozen lawmakers for possibly misspending government funds meant to pay for overseas travel, according to people familiar with the matter. The investigation follows a Wall Street Journal article in March that said lawmakers had used daily cash stipends, meant to cover certain costs of official government travel overseas, to cover expenses that appeared to be unauthorized by House rules. An independent ethics board has referred the matter to the House ethics committee.
MILE HIGH — U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, a Columbia Democrat, and state Rep. Tim Scott, a Charleston Republican find are on opposite sides of a heated congressional race — in Colorado. Scott Clyburn The Denver Post reports Clyburn, the U.S. House Majority Whip, has been helping Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter defend his seat. His challenger, Ryan Frazier, is like Scott an African-American Republican looking seeking to become the first black Republican elected to the U.S. House since Oklahoma’s J.C. Watts retired.
ALVIN’S GOT A PEN — Alvin Greene, South Carolina Democratic Senate candidate, may seem to defy many classic stereotypes of aspiring politicians, but when it comes to confidence — a must for most political contenders — a new op-ed written by Greene in The Guardian shows that the enigmatic unemployed Senate hopeful has no shortage. “I’ll save your house. I’ll save your job,” Greene loftily promises in the editorial. “I’m unemployed, and, if elected, I can teach the Harvard rich kids in the White House and the senate a thing or two.”
CLYBURN CONTRIBUTES — Democratic senators are donating generously to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid but his biggest contributor is the one who often gives him a serious case of heartburn – Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.). An examination of incumbent senators’ donations to Reid (D-Nev.) found Lieberman led the way with $14,000, coming from his two PACs.
BEHIND THE SOCIAL SCENE — Last week former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, who co-chairs the White House’s fiscal commission, drew a storm of criticism for comparing Social Security to a “cow with 310 million tits.” But Titgate isn’t really about language. It’s about both Simpson himself — who has long viewed Social Security as a bloated program for spoiled old people — and about the commission as a whole. Comprised of nine tax-averse Republicans and nine Democrats, many of whom have expressed support for Social Security changes in the past, the commission will almost certainly be biased toward benefit cuts, and away from raising taxes, when it presents its report on December 1. Learn about the cast of characters who will be making the calls.
GRAND OLE TWEETING — For the 2010 elections, the results of the Twitter primary are in. And the Republicans have won. Barack Obama famously harnessed the power of the Internet and social media to aid his winning presidential campaign in 2008. But the latest leg of the marathon struggle to make best political use of the Internet is going the Republicans’ way.
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2010 WATCH — 5, 4, 3, 2, WON — Democratic gubernatorial nominee Vincent Sheheen has proposed five Lincoln-Douglas debates with Republican nominee Nikki Haley to be held at five sites around the state. Sheheen, a Camden state senator, and Haley, a Lexington state representative, are the major party nominees headed for a showdown in the Nov. 2 general election. Green Party and United Citizens Party candidate Morgan Reeves will also be on the ballot. How often Reeves will be included in the debates has yet to be determined.
CRUZE THROUGH SCHOOL — One senior in the Columbia region, which includes Sumter, could earn a new 2011 Chevy Cruze just by staying in school. High school seniors at more than 23 schools will become eligible for a chance to win the car after completing 180 days of 98 percent or better attendance at their respective schools for the 2010-2011 academic year. In its third year in South Carolina, the “Chevy Drive for Perfection” is an initiative presented by Chevrolet and the local Columbia Chevrolet Dealers in conjunction with the local school boards.
STINKY QUESTION — A pair of state legislators and at least two doctors connected to the University of South Carolina’s School of Medicine have raised concerns about the university’s plans to expand its medical education program in Greenville. The Greenville Hospital System, which has promised to contribute $35 million to $39 million over seven to 10 years to help pay for the expansion, had its credit rating downgraded by Moody’s in April and announced layoffs in May. And a prominent backer of the USC-Greenville Hospital System deal, former USC President Andrew Sorensen, is a paid consultant for the hospital system, causing some to question his objectivity.
NICE TO MEET YOU — Sen. Mick Mulvaney, R-Lancaster, released his first television ad in his race to unseat U.S. Rep. John Spratt, a Democrat who has represented the 5th Congressional District for nearly three decades. Mulvaney, his wife Pam and the couple’s triplets are featured in the ad meant to introduce Mulvaney to a wide audience. He does not mention Spratt in the ad.
HOLD YOUR BREATH — Aiken County does not yet know whether it meets air quality standards set forth by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA was expected to propose a stricter benchmark for ground-level ozone this week, but has delayed setting the new rules until the end of October because it is still in the process of compiling its final report, according to S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control Air Quality Chief Myra Reece.
LETTER WRITING — Gov. Mark Sanford’s office said Monday they will accept $127 million in federal aid to the state-run health care program for the poor and disabled. Governors must write a letter accepting the money. Sanford took the Legislature to court over stimulus money last year, but has said he did not want to fight the battle again. Sanford has never opposed health care-related stimulus, spokesman Ben Fox said.
NOW HE DANCES — Alvin Greene, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from South Carolina, answered political questions and even showed off some of his dance moves on a Charlotte radio program Monday.
HOWEVER — Incumbent Senator Jim DeMint remains in the lead in the U.S. Senate race over opponent Alvin Greene. According to a new Rasmussen Reports poll, Republican DeMint claims 63 percent of the vote compared to Democratic nominee Greene’s 19 percent. Eight percent of the 500 likely voters questioned say they prefer some other candidate. Ten percent remain undecided.
GIVE YOUR VIEWPOINT — The public will get to express its opinion on design plans for the last link in a major expressway on the South Carolina coast. The South Carolina Department of Transportation on Tuesday holds the first of two public hearings on plans to complete the Mark Clark Expressway around Charleston.
OCONEE — Graham to tap Cain for court
SUMTER — Geddings’ fraud conviction vacated
LEXINGTON — A face takes shape with new science
SPARTANBURG — Airport officials set meeting on GSP upgrades
VIEWPOINT — TOUGH STUFF — The Times and Democrat believes that the “Anti-government approach is working in 2010. The primary victory by Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain is being pointed to as a sign of the strength of the anti-Washington tea party movement. McCain, the conservative that critics have said for years, even during his presidential campaign of 2008, is too liberal, moved decidedly to the right on issues such as immigration and came away a winner. He is not the first Republican Washington insider to fall out of favor with voters. Across the country, tea party candidates are making villains of those in Washington, Republicans during the primary season and Democrats when it comes time for the November election.”
VIEWPOINT II — BARKERS BEGS — Raising $167 million in 98 weeks will require finding $1.7 million in gifts every week. That was the bottom line President James Barker shared with a Clemson-friendly group of Rotarians less than a mile from the campus he has headed up for 11 years. “This is a great time of year,” Barker joked with the crowd. “We’re undefeated and all the students have a 4.0.” The fund drive, called The Will to Lead, is now in the public stage of a $600 million endeavor under way since 2007 with major gifts coming from BMW ($10 million), Harris A. Smith ($3.7 million), BB&T ($3.5 million), Michelin ($3 million) and the Cliffs Communities ($3 million).
FINALLY THIS — TWICE AS SWEET — When the South Carolina Air National Guard airmen returned to McEntire on Sunday after a 120-day deployment to Iraq, one young man’s return became a life-changing moment for his girl.