Berkeley Co. Endorsements: Retire Henry Brown, Send a National Message

In the June 8 primary for Berkeley County Supervisor, the Charleston Reader “reluctantly, half-heartedly” endorsed Hanahan mayor Minnie Blackwell for the job.

We should have been more emphatic in our support for Blackwell, because it was the only GOP race in which the Charleston Reader endorsee did not win or at least place in the run-off.

Blackwell garnered just under 19% of the vote. Current US congressman Henry Brown and current county supervisor Dan Davis both received over 40%, with Davis beating Brown by three votes. (A sitting US congressman can’t even come in first to win a demotion to a puny county job?) Now we are stuck with the pitiful run-off choice between Davis and Brown.

Blackwell has thrown her support behind Brown. Curious, because if Brown hadn’t entered the race (after Blackwell had already declared), then Blackwell would have had a good chance to win the race.

A week before the election, Blackwell was practically acting as if Brown were her only opponent. The last posting on her Facebook page–now deleted but still accessible through Google cache for a while–read: (Just add [sic] where appropriate in this uncorrected version.)

…we want everyone to know that Henry Brown States in his many flyers he sends out, that he will bring jobs to Berkeley County because of his many contacts he has in Washington! Henry has been in Washington for the past SEVERAL yrs why didn’t he bring jobs then? What makes us think Henry Brown will bring them NOW?

Just by running, Brown pushed Blackwell aside and stopped her political advancement. Yet, Blackwell has shown herself to be a political animal. After her loss, she initially said she would not make an endorsement in the race and then promptly endorsed Brown a few days later. We suspect that her reasons for backing Brown now may be more politically advantageous to herself than to Berkeley County. After all, he would have more connections than Davis should she wish to continue in political life or seek opportunities beyond her current middle school teaching position. We don’t begrudge her that, but it’s not going to help us any. Therefore, we have to discount the endorsement of our former endorsee.

So in one corner we now have Davis, who has paid insufficient attention to citizens’ wishes and complaints and has been incapable of getting along with a council whose positions we tend to support more than Davis’. County employees complain he acts like a puffed-up potentate. (If the comments section of that hyperlinked story is to be believed, some of the preparations the various county agencies make for a visit from the august Davis would do the administration of Kim Jong-Il equally proud.)

The supervisor’s blog on the county website has the distinct odor of campaign propaganda about it–and much of it is linked to by Davis’ campaign Facebook page. (See his March 12 and April 19 postings.) If a candidate is going to be that blatantly open about their inability to differentiate between official duty and political speechifying, we worry what they’d be willing to attempt when they think no one’s looking.

With all the financial punches that Berkeley County residents have endured during Davis’ short three-and-a-half year tenure, as tallied up by the “smalltownrumor” commenter on a Post & Courier story, a voter has any number of reasons to vote against him…until he considers the candidate he would have to vote for instead.

In the other corner, we have a congressman that’s been in Columbia and Washington for the past 26 years–and on city council before that. Like a tick on a dog, it looks like it’s going to take a hot match to the back to get him to open his pincers and let go of the government teat.

No need to rehash the basic reasons we previously outlined in our opposition to Brown. Here’s some additional ones:

Can anyone think of a single bill that Henry Brown authored or pushed? He did, of course, but we’re talking something more significant than a resolution to honor the Charleston Culottes t-ball team on making it into the quarterfinals of the Boopsie KinderCare league. Brown has not distinguished himself as a leader. Instead, he’s demonstrated that he’s perfectly content to be just one of the 435 herd. Now he wants to be the head honcho, without having exercised that muscle in Congress.

The one area in which Brown did set himself apart was in his use of the franking privilege, winning the annual award for wasting taxpayer dollars on postage for nonstop, mass-mailed self-promotion. If Brown had promised the voters “a flier in every mailbox, and a calendar on every wall,” he honored his commitment tenfold. This talent would be wasted on the county level, as one commenter said on an early Post & Courier article: “Has the postage budget for the Berkeley County Supervisor gone up now?”

In Brown’s continual mailers during the past 10 years, he has loved to tout his constituent services. Yet, that’s not going to be a major part (let’s hope) of the county job, doling out little favors and goodies to everyone.

All in all, the Berkeley County Supervisor job requirements and Brown’s demonstrated skill set are not a good match. If Brown were to be elected and sink his pincers into us, we could end up with an autocracy–with little of the enthusiasm to oust him from his post that would be in evidence if Davis were to remain in office.

The people that encouraged Brown to run did themselves a huge disservice. If they had backed Blackwell (or other earlier local candidate), they could have booted Davis from office and formed some alliance that could have gotten the county safely through the next four years. As it is, the Berkeley County GOP chairman, Tim Callahan, a supporter of Henry Brown and a county council member, is no friend of Davis. So for the duration, there will be someone to counterbalance Davis, and someone who will be trying to put a hot match on Davis’ back come next election season.

On the bright side, Davis and Brown both declared themselves to be good friends in a Post & Courier article–though the friendship was growing shaky by the WTMA radio debate (podcast available here). If there’s some assistance that Brown’s connections can direct Berkeley County’s way, then Davis should have no problem getting Brown on the phone, and for all his professed love of the county, Brown should have no problem helping out pro bono when Davis calls. After all, he’ll be in retirement, living off his comfy pension and rental income, just rambling around his farm like a workhorse put out to pasture.

For his part, we hope Davis has had the fear put in him of losing his job and will begin to pay closer attention to the citizenry. It would have been nice to hear him say at some point during the campaign that he has learned his lesson and will mend his ways. He didn’t, as far as we have heard and read, so in all likelihood, he’ll be stubborn as ever and just keep giving us more of the chaos we got during the last four years.

Other interesting (and some wacky) perspectives in support of Davis or against Brown can be found at:

Ably standing up against all of the above links is a “Nosy Woman from Cross” on her Grits, Eggs & Politics blog. An open-eyed voter would peruse her extensive commentary on the adventures of Dan Davis and the Berkeley County Council before going to cast their vote. The research will not make casting a vote for Dan Davis any easier, but she’s got on rose-colored glasses when it comes to whether things would be any better under Henry Brown’s “leadership.”

She brushes off any criticism of Brown by saying he has “assured” her it isn’t true. We’d treat all Brown “assurances” the same way we’d treat all Davis assurances, with extreme skepticism and requiring our own research into the truth. [And the Charleston Reader will join Ms. GE&P in decrying any future shenanigans occurring in the supervisor’s office or county council.]

Quite frankly, it will be a gut-wrenching experience to press Dan Davis’ name tomorrow. Let Davis be forewarned: Our vote for him is merely a vote for ABB–Anybody But Brown. Ultimately, a vote against Brown will be a loud message sent to all Congressmen throughout the land: “If you don’t steadfastly represent your public and defend the Constitution, then the people back home won’t even elect you dogcatcher–or county supervisor.”

Therefore, the Charleston Reader endorses retirement for Henry Brown. To achieve this, voters must press the Dan Davis slot. (To combat the after-effects, we found this $3 off coupon for our readers.)

In the other Berkely County runoff, the Charleston Reader continues to endorse Bill Salisbury for coroner for the reasons previously stated.

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