South Carolina Democrats are crowing about their win in state House District 78, where Beth Bernstein ousted Republican incumbent Joan Brady by a 12-point margin earlier this month.
They have scheduled a parade in Columbia for this weekend to celebrate.
You know what this means? A Democrat actually won something in South Carolina – well, besides those few districts the Republicans use to corral Democratic voters so they can take the rest of the state with ease.
Now the Democrats, feeling cocky after going 1-16,997, think they have a winning strategy. Because, you see, Bernstein captured her seat not by bashing Brady, but by campaigning against Gov. Nikki Haley.
That’s genius. How long did it take ‘em to come up with that one?
A report in The Post and Courier Monday, which was originally published in The State, noted that Bernstein ran a lot of campaign ads about Haley’s various ethical lapses and tied Brady to her tangentially – sort of like Republicans tried to do with any Democrat they could find and President Obama. This is a not a strategy, it’s politics as usual.
That’s not to say it might not work. Although Haley’s chief of staff/campaign manager (depending on the week) said the Democrats are dreaming, there is some truth in what they say. Haley won with 51 percent of the vote in 2010, which was an election in which Democrats were apparently on vacation nationwide. She has less of a mandate in a Republican state that Obama has nationwide. Ouch.
Since her election, the governor has not exactly endeared herself to many new groups. In fact, environmentalists, school teachers, union members, arts groups, ETV employees, tea partiers, Libertarians and various species of fish have all added their names to the growing list of anybody-but-Haley voters.
The problem here for Democrats is that the Republicans might beat them to the punch. Gov. Haley may have a pretty good campaign war chest – who knew Vogue photo shoots paid so well? – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a half-dozen Republicans who realize she is vulnerable and may take her on in the primary. And if someone was to unseat her there, well, then the Dims could hang up winning in the general. A new Republican will have a decided edge.
So Democrats need to hold off on the champagne and cherish the memory of that District 78 win which, by the way, came in a swing district.
It may be the only win they have for quite a while.