In November 2012, an acquaintance of mine named Tim Scott was elected with strong support from Republicans and the Tea Party to the House of Representatives. He espoused the values of the newly diverse, yet still decidedly conservative South and served as an influential and engaged voice for South Carolina … for a couple of months. Congressman Scott was a natural choice for South Carolina's Governor Nikki Haley, also graced with Tea Party support, to appoint to the Senate seat vacated by Jim DeMint, who left to lead the Heritage Foundation. Scott has now made history for this state as the first black Senator from South Carolina since the late 1800s. He also has served one of the shortest congressional terms in the House, in the company of Effingham Lawrence in 1875 (1 day) and Rebecca Latimer Felton in 1922 (1 ½ days).
Governor Haley had an obligation to appoint a replacement to the Senate according to the 17th Amendment to the Constitution that requires appointment in the case of resignation, expulsion, or death. However, this amendment does not apply to the House of Representatives. The 1st Congressional District of South Carolina, which encompasses the southeastern coast from Myrtle Beach to the city of Charleston, will hold a special election to fill Tim Scott's congressional seat. Charleston is home to one of the largest ports in the country, the South Carolina Ports Authority, which employs over a quarter of a million people, is nationally recognized for efficiency and productivity, and has a strong impact on our national economy.
There are several Republican leaders expressing interest in this seat and considerably fewer democratic contenders. Here are five democratic leaders that I am watching as a resident and voter of the 1st district:
1) Blaine Lotz: He currently serves as the chairman of the Beaufort County Democratic Party. He devoted 26 years to the Air Force as an Intelligence Officer, and in civilian service with the Department of Defense. He received his Bachelor of Arts at George Washington University and his Master of Science in Public Administration from Auburn University. He received the Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam.
2) Bobbie Rose: She has a B.A. and B.S. from City University of New York in English and Child Psychology where she sits on the board of directors. After a career as an elementary teacher and small business owner, she has been active in community and social advocacy and is currently serving as a special advocate for family court. She has spent much of her life volunteering and in the service of her community and has liaised with various government entities.
3) Robert Burton: He's a retired Iraq war colonel with no previous political service. He has a B.A. from the University of South Carolina, and has served a combined 32 years in the Air Force and Reserves. He was appointed to the Board of Commissioners of the State Housing and Development Authority and has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO and the Charleston Central Labor Council.
4) Leon Stavrinakis: He's been a Charleston County's State Senator since 2007 and serves on the Ethics and Ways and Means committees. He has been active in local politics his entire career and has expressed interest in running for this position, although he has not officially filed. He is a Charleston native, with a B.A. from the College of Charleston and his Law Degree from University of South Carolina. He owns the Stavrinakis law firm and has held Chairmanship on the Charleston County Council as a member of the minority party.
The only one of these likely candidates who actually has filed to run in the Democratic primary for this special election is:
5) Linda Ketner: She narrowly lost the 2008 1st District election against Republican incumbent Henry Brown, attaining 48% of the vote. Ketner received her B.A. and her M.A. from the University of South Carolina, and has been working toward her PhD at Duke and Emory Universities. She is president of KSI Leadership and Management Development and has been an adjunct professor at University of North Carolina at Greenville and the College of Charleston. She has been heavily involved in community and state leadership roles and established the Women's Fund, Ketner Fund, and Fund for Social Justice at the Coastal Community Foundation. She has been awarded many highly distinctive awards for leadership and service in the fields of women, family and social justice.