Voters in South Carolina gave huge victories to Republican candidates in the November 2, 2010, General Election. What does this mean for the future of our state?

South Carolina is sending four new conservative Republican Congressmen to Washington. They will be part of an historic freshman class that will make waves on Capitol Hill. Sen. Jim DeMint was reelected and is becoming a leader of the conservative wing of the GOP in the Senate. Sen. Lindsey Graham has four more years to serve in his current term and, as predicted by this column months ago, could be picked by President Obama to be Secretary of Defense early next year.  The appointment would provide the president with a public gesture of “bipartisanship” and create a GOP scapegoat for declaring victory and pulling out of Afghanistan before the 2012 Presidential Election. Graham is well-qualified for the job.

In Columbia, Governor-elect Nikki Haley has selected her transition team and named former House Speaker Ambassador David Wilkins as chairman. While Wilkins is probably the ideal selection to get Gov. Haley off to a good start working with lawmakers and understanding the workings of state government, some critics have questioned the appointment.

John Gaines, the outspoken SC Minuteman State Director is somewhat typical of the Wilkins critics. He describes Wilkins as representing “the establishment good old boy school.” He adds: “She should be using true conservatives in her cabinet and vetting them with utmost care. I don’t dislike Wilkins, but with her promises to run this state with newness, to clean out the ‘good old boys,’ and to make this state one that we can be proud of,” his appointment appears inconsistent, Gaines concluded.

Haley knows that David Wilkins is one of the most influential individuals in the state, has valuable trade contacts in Canada and will be a valuable ally as she tackles the problems ahead. She must deal with a billion-dollar budget shortfall and eleven-percent unemployment, not to mention political enemies in the legislature, bureaucracy and press who will be working to prove themselves right in saying she was the wrong choice for Governor of South Carolina and endorsing her opposition.

With the help of Wilkins and some wise conservative appointments to key positions, Gov. Haley should be able to prove to both constructive critics and political enemies that she can work effectively with lawmakers and keep communication lines open with state government and state citizens.

Haley is often criticized for having Gov. Mark Sanford as a mentor. It should be noted that, despite his marital problems and feuds with the legislature, in many respects, Mark Sanford has been one of the most effective conservative South Carolina Governors in recent years.

Prior to the marital infidelity problems, Sanford had become a national conservative leader. He could have been a contender for national office had he not succumbed to a too common “fatal attraction.”  The Cato Institute still has him rated as one of the four top governors in the nation. Despite all of the negative publicity from the media and his former spouse, Sanford continues to perform the duties he was elected to perform, and therefore has earned the appreciation of a majority of the people of South Carolina.

Governor-elect Haley has a tough job ahead. Now is the time for all good South Carolinians to come to the aid of their state – and support our governor when she does the right thing and let her know when she does not.

 

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Mike Scruggs