Curtis Loftis, seeking the Treasurer's office, may be waging the most aggressive campaign in South Carolina, and has been since the day he announced. He has a laundry list of allegations against incumbent Treasurer Converse Chellis that includes the purchase of political advertising with state dollars, working only three five-hour days a week, losing track of state money and buying a fancy new car, among other issues.
But is any of it true? Chellis has responded to the various claims, but I'm not aware that much independent fact checking has been done on this race. (The Spartanburg Herald-Journal, however, wrote a devastatingly critical and widely-read column alleging that Chellis was using his office staff to campaign on the state dime.) Loftis and Chellis are facing off in a radio debate that will be streamed live at WVOC.com at 3 p.m. Tuesday; it'll be interesting to see if anything gets settled.
It is important to know that a Loftis victory has implications far beyond the electoral drama between him and Chellis. It would dramatically realign the powerful state Budget and Control Board, which decides things like how to balance the budget when revenues come in less than expected outside the legislative session. The board is made up of two legislators, the treasurer, the comptroller and the governor. Currently, Chellis generally votes with the lawmakers (he was appointed to his position out of the legislature) in 3-2 decisions against Sanford and Eckstrom, so if Loftis were to take Chellis' seat, he and Eckstrom - both members of the state's reform wing - would form a voting bloc in equal strength to the legislature (that's assuming Eckstrom wins his primary, too). Our new governor would then be the deciding vote - Nikki Haley would surely side against the legislators, while the other candidates would probably be more like swing votes based on the issue.
Unfortunately, some sort of technical error will deprive readers of the majority of our interview with Loftis, as the video file on my hard drive only seems to be about 8 minutes long (my guess is that the camera's memory card filled up without my noticing, but it could be anything). Blame any conspiracy that you will, but for what it's worth, a scheduling snafu is preventing the editorial board from meeting with Chellis, so there won't be any video at all of him. Maybe we're trying to keep you from voting for anyone.
If the last post about Loftis and Chellis is any indication, people hold strong feeling about this race. Any comments are certainly welcome.