Had a fun evening last night. The Lexington Young Republicans (of which I am Treasurer) hosted a party last night in honor of the State of the State – it was a pre- and post- party, though most of the folks came to the pre. Now, Will likes to refer to the YRs as the “land of 1000 virgins.” I hate to break it to him, but a fairly large number of the YRs in Lexington and Richland (and around the state for that matter) are married couples and young professionals. So, you can pop that perception.
We had about 45 people come through last night, including a handful of legislators (the entire Lexington House delegation plus a few others) and our esteemed Attorney General and his lovely wife. It was also great to see County Councilman John Carrigg there with his wife Beth.
We went over for the speech around 6:30. I was somewhat surprised at the number of empty seats and the ease of getting one. By the time the speech started, there were still around 50 empty seats out of the roughly 200 in the House gallery. I suppose there is less interest in a Governor’s 7th State of the State, but I was still surprised.
I thought Governor Sanford did better this time around. Most of the stumbles were gone, Thomas Friedman was nowhere to be found, and he laid out a simple 5-point plan for where he wanted the state to go this year. He invoked the Obama factor with references to “Yes, we can” without naming the new presidency, which was interesting. He thanked my Representative Nikki Haley and Nathan Ballentine for their terrific work (against tremendous opposition) on getting roll call voting through the House (which passed 115-0 yesterday; still wonder who those 9 holdouts were…). As a result, he got more applause this year (well, that and there were two rows of YRs in the stands… heh.)
I did find it a bit different that Governor Sanford recognized his Cabinet, but not the Constitutional officers in the stands. Sitting on the front row (two rows in front of me) were Attorney General McMaster, Comptroller General Eckstrom, Treasurer Chellis, Secretary of State Hammond, and Agriculture Commissioner Weathers. I didn’t see Adjutant General Spears, and I didn’t see Education Super Rex, though he was clearly there for the cameras afterwards. Of course, Lt. Governor Bauer was in front, gavelling the chamber to order in the purple robes of the evening. (Bauer and Speaker Harrell really did look like two guys from the Heavens Gate cult in those robes. Very scary. Now that indigo is the state color, perhaps it’s time to change the robes from purple to blue… But, I digress.)
The post-party was very interesting. The usual crowd of the restaurant/bar we were at had filtered in, mostly USC students, from the look of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Mattheus Mei of Leonardo’s Notebook, and we talked Evangelical/Catholic theology for the better part of an hour. (Matt – it was a pleasure meeting you.) I also had the chance to chat with Wes Wolfe, the one-time freelance writer for the Columbia City Paper and two-time “anonymous blogger” who managed to get his identity outed both times. (In the process, I hopefully have disabused him of some of his more conspiratorial notions involving me.) Wes – it was a pleasure.
Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how the legislature reacts to the overall tone of the speech itself. The applause line of the night may have been “let bygones be bygones.” Hopefully, in an economic crisis like the one we’re facing now, the Governor and Legislature will be able to put their heads together to figure out how the state can best move forward with the least negativbe impact to the citizenry.
Oh – and thanks to Cam and Jay-dub for noticing that I was shown on TV from the gallery last night. Hopefully I looked attentive…