Springtime in the Smoky Mountains

Friday, April 29, 2011

Republican Consultant Blasts Noble and SC Democrats for Supporting “Union Boss Intimidation Tactics” Against State Convention Delegates

 New Democrat Party “reform” still denies Democratic delegates a secret ballot

On the eve of the state Democratic Party convention in Columbia, campaign consultant and former Georgetown County Republican Party Chairman Tom Swatzel Friday sent a statement to candidate for state Democratic Party chairman Phil Noble, taking Noble to task for a blog post Thursday praising a new Democratic Party rule that will still force Democratic convention delegates this weekend to identify themselves by name when voting for party officers.
“Phil, you claim – apparently with a straight face -- that a new Democrat Party ‘reform’ requiring that all convention ballots must be signed to be counted will prevent the voter intimidation and strong arm tactics you admit rank and file Democrats have had to endure at their past conventions,” Swatzel said. “The obviously misleading nonsense of such a claim shows just how out of touch current Democrat Party bosses and even alleged ‘reformers’ such as you are with the actual democratic values of South Carolinians.”
Swatzel pointed out in his statement that “consistent with the state Democratic party’s own internal intimidation tactics, party officials last year opposed a state constitutional amendment – supported by 86 percent of voters nonetheless on the November ballot -- that constitutionally guaranteed South Carolinians the right to vote by secret ballot when voting in the workplace on whether to be represented by a labor union.”   

“It’s clear from such an overwhelming majority that many, maybe even most rank and file Democrats in South Carolina joined Republicans and independents in voting to constitutionally guarantee the right to a secret ballot,” Swatzel wrote.  “But rather than stand with the people of South Carolina in rejecting union bosses' strong-arm intimidation tactics, Democratic Party bosses not only endorsed them back then, but have now adopted the very same tactics as the model for pressuring their own state convention delegates.”
“Phil, it’s simple,” Swatzel wrote. “Secret ballots are allowed at the Republican Party Convention. If you and other so-called reformers in the Democrat Party expect to be taken seriously, you shouldn’t leave it to a Republican to have to publicly lecture you about such fundamental democratic principles.”
 Swatzel predicted that “as long as the S.C. Democratic Party remains the party of official intimidation and retribution tactics, they will continue to fail miserably in this state, given how out of step they are with even the most fundamental values of South Carolinians.”  He noted that Democrats lost all state constitutional officers and three seats in the General Assembly in 2010, and he predicted that state Democrats’ continued opposition to widely-supported principles such as the secret ballot “will continue to drive independent voters and Democrats tired of being strong-armed into the Republican column in 2012.”

Swatzel’s statement came in response to a blog post published Thursday on Noble’s chairmanship campaign website, in which Noble praised a new party rule requiring paper ballots rather than voting by raised hand or standing.  Noble failed to mention, however, that the rule requires ballots must be signed by voters in order to count.

“For the first time in recent history, the vote for party officers will be only with paper ballots – to ensure fairness and avoid the intimidation that has often happened in the past…,” Noble wrote.  “With the new rule, now delegates will mark their ballot in secret as opposed to the past when delegates voted in a ‘standing vote’ and were often subject to great pressure and intimidation by party bosses that wanted to rig the voting.”

Noble, former Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian, and Lee Walter Jenkins are running this weekend for the state party chairmanship.

Swatzel, who in 1994 defeated a two-term incumbent Democrat to become the first Republican in history elected to the Georgetown County Council, is the immediate past two-term chairman of the Georgetown County Republican Party.  He is widely credited for orchestrating the defeat last year of former Rep. Vida Miller, D-Georgetown, one of only three Democratic state House incumbents to lose reelection bids in 2010.  Miller, a 14-year incumbent, was defeated by unknown 22-year old Republican Rep. Kevin Ryan.

Swatzel recently launched a campaign, issue advocacy, and public and media relations consulting firm called Swatzel Strategies, available at www.SwatzelStrategies.com.

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