Sunday’s editorial celebrates that the governor’s race is beginning to feature real policy plans instead of political theater.
Right around the same time last week when we were criticizing Gov. Mark Sanford’s apparent lack of regard for public education as a “core government service,” his former protege and possible successor, state Rep. Nikki Haley, was releasing her own education plan.
The gubernatorial race between Haley and her Democratic opponent, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, has been dominated by issues of what one might call “personal transparency” lately. Haley built her Republican primary campaign on her fight for on-the-record voting and on related good-government bills she’s filed, such as new requirements that lawmakers disclose all their income sources to taxpayers.
Sheheen, however, beat Haley to the punch by releasing his personal tax records for the length of his legislative career and the entire contents of his legislative e-mail account. When Haley finally released similar records, her taxes showed a pattern of egregiously late filing and payment, and she released only a limited period’s worth of e-mails, forcing reporters to review them at her headquarters without making copies.
This is strange behavior from a front-runner, and the state’s political press has been correct to focus on it. And yet, the discussion of how Haley is conducting her campaign can easily overshadow her policy initiatives, which she’s shown a commendable devotion to beginning to set forth on paper in recent weeks. First came her tax policy, then her plans for education, and most recently a restating of her governmental streamlining goals.
What is most immediately striking in Haley’s schools plan is its omission of private school vouchers, a startling departure from the course set by
It's unclear whether she agreed with
We have long felt that one of Haley’s strengths as a candidate is her strong orientation toward policy discussions (and likewise for Sheheen). Advocates of good government will certainly be happy with the reforms she champions: on-the-record voting, lawmakers’ income disclosure, term limits and a streamlined Department of Administration (only annual spending caps give us pause, and if Haley will take into account the woefully shrunken size of state government now, they too merit discussion). We hope Haley will put her personal issues aside – match the openness Sheheen has shown with his legislative e-mails, and come up with a truthful explanation for the late taxes – so these policy discussions can come to the fore in the months remaining before the election.