If you like your politics dirty, vulgar and blatantly racist, take a jet to South Carolina where political consultant Stuart Rotenberg calls the Republican national stinkpot.
Tuesday's primary vote in South Carolina was not about politics but about sex, lies and innuendos. It may be a Tea Partier's dream but you will need to ask one yourself. How these folks can tout family values in one breath and whisper gossip in the next, boggles the mind.
Republican voters in the Palmetto state will be treated to another two weeks of extra marital affair allegations and the ever-popular "raghead" charges by what out-of-staters would call the lowest redneck rhetoric not heard since Jim Crow days.
I'm referring, of course, to the runoff June 22 between Republican state Rep. Nikki Haley and U.S. Congressman Gresham Barrett for governor. Haley, endorsed by former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, just couldn't muster enough votes to win by a majority-plus one over three other candidates in the Tuesday primary. The survivor will face Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen in November.
Haley, who plummeted in the polls after denying she had two affairs, won 49% of the vote to Barrett's 22%. She also also was endorsed by Jenny Sanford who divorced current Gov. Mark Sanford after he admitted to having an affair with an Argentina woman.
The only way I can describe the "raghead" slur by state Sen. Jake Knotts is that it came in a double-barreled shot at President Obama (ala the "birther" myth) and for questions he raised about Haley's 1977 conversion to Christianity from the Sikh faith of her Indian parents.
Before South Carolina polls closed, MSNBC was breathlessly reporting rumors that Haley told supporters if she won the governor's seat, as fast as it would take to chop up the state's official Palmetto tree fruit into a palm salad, she would quit.
“Of course, the good ol’ boys are going after her,” said Victoria Platt Ellis, a local artist in Charleston who went to the polls for Haley. “And even if it’s true, a gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell.”
“We knew from the very beginning it was us versus the establishment,” Haley told a cheering election night crowd in Columbia. “I won’t stop until we get a conservative House, a conservative Senate and conservative governor.”
I wish I was making this up, but I'm not, South Carolina politics being what it is. For instance, don't consider Barrett totally out to lunch to make up a 27 point gap in two weeks. In the 2004 U.S. Senate primary, Republican Jim DeMint lost by 14 points to then Gov. David Beasley. But in the runoff two weeks later, DeMint won by 19 points, a 32-point swing.
Yet, between all the mudslinging and attack ads, Barrett is hard pressed to defend his vote in Congress for the bank bailout in 2009. Imagine that! A substantive government issue actually being discussed. As was, time permitting, disagreements between the Republican candidates how much each could cut the state budget.
A GOP consultant who has worked for Barrett told Politico: “If we can keep it out of salacious issue kind of talk and keep it to boring issue kind of talk, I think we can really move some voters.”
Although Democrats currently hold only one statewide office, it will not be a slam dunk for the Haley-Barrett victor over Sheenan who along with family members, has been in state politics for generations. Anything's possible. Name identification in a state controlled by the Republicans that include Rep. Joe Wilson of "You lie" fame shouted during Obama's State of the Union speech is unlikely a ticket to the state capitol in Columbia.
What does it all mean? South Carolina is a red state and will continue to be. They all deserve each other. In the immortal words of another good old boy, that's all I have to say about that.