The Problem With Special Interest Group Endorsements

[As promised, this is the first of a series of blog reposts from my campaign website. This post first appeared on June 10, 2012]

This week I received a postcard from Rep. Bill Whitmire, the Republican nominee running against me in November. It trumpeted the following:

  • Endorsed by South Carolina Citizens For Life
  • National Rifle Association 100% Grade Each Year
  • 2011 and 2012 S.C. Chamber of Commerce Pro Business Advocate Award
  • S.C. America Legion Legislator of the Year 2010
  • 100% score on governor Haley’s 2011 Legislative Initiatives

The fact that Rep. Whitmire gave these endorsements such prominent placement in his campaign material suggests that he believes these groups’ endorsements are important to his winning re-election to the SC House.

Now suppose that Rep. Whitmire faces a bill that pits the interests of one or more of these organizations against the interests of his constituents. Do you suppose that he will vote in favor of these groups or vote in favor of you, the citizens of the first district? After bragging about these endorsements, can he politically afford to cross these groups for your sake? If he agrees with these groups that they have the power to help him win his election, will he really stand up against them to do what is right by you?

After filing to run for the SC House, I received a flurry of mail from several special interest groups. The following groups sent me surveys so that they could analyze my answers and inform their members what they think about my candidacy:

  • The National Pro-Life Alliance
  • The National Association for Gun Rights
  • The South Carolina Education Association
  • The South Carolina Campaign for Liberty
  • National Right To Work Committee
  • South Carolina Association of Taxpayers

Although I might have fared better with some groups rather than others, I decided not to respond to any of their surveys. I do not want to put myself in the position where I might for a moment think that my election was dependent on pleasing any special interest group. The only interests I want to represent in the SC General Assembly are the citizens of District One, and I believe the only way an elected official can do that is by not relying on any endorsements or making any pledges to special interest groups.

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