The Union County Democratic Party hosted its first-ever Unity Banquet Thursday evening and heard a former gubernatorial candidate ask voters to put an end to the Republican rule in South Carolina which he described as corrupt and insane.
More than 100 gathered Thursday evening at USC Union’s Truluck Gymnasium to promote unity within the local Democratic party. UCDP Secretary Curtiss Hunter said the party hopes the event will be an annual occurrence.
“We are gearing up for 2012, and what better way to do it than in a social setting like this one,” Hunter said.
Hunter also said the party intends to be very active as the 2012 Democratic National Convention is held in Charlotte.
State Rep. Mike Anthony introduced guest speaker State Sen. Vincent Sheheen to those in attendance. Anthony said when he met Sheheen he saw someone who was passionate about many of the same things as himself. Anthony also referred to Sheheen’s 2010 loss to Nikki Haley for the state’s gubernatorial seat.
“By two percent we missed a great opportunity last year for someone who loves public education and is a product of public education,” Anthony said, mentioning that Sheheen is a graduate of both Clemson University and the University of South Carolina.
Sheheen said “unity” was the perfect theme for the evening as he looked around the room at the diverse crowd in attendance. He shared a joke with the Democratic crowd.
“The Democrats are a party of government activism — a party that believes the government can make a difference,” Sheheen said. “Republicans believe that government cannot work. Then, they get elected and prove it.”
On top of laughter, Sheheen added, “There’s a lot of truth in that.”
Sheheen said he would rather be in a party that believes things can be fixed rather than one that thinks everything is broken and will never work.
“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” he said, referring to the last 10 years of Republican control in South Carolina.
Sheheen pointed out seven different cases of law and ethics violations of prominent Republicans who have held offices in the state within the last 10 years — some whom are currently still in office.
Sheheen said for the last year, instead of talking about subjects such as tax realignment or the unemployment rate, he has listened to Republicans discuss how the state could make it harder for elderly people to vote. He said he would recommend that the voter identification laws exempt those who are age 65 or older.
Sheheen also said instead of talking about ways to increase state rankings in public education, he has listened to Republicans talk about whether or not raffles should be legalized.
Sheheen explained that the definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over, expecting each time to get different results.
“Right now, the South Carolina government is insane,” he said. “The Good Book says, ‘When the righteous govern, people will rejoice.’ Ladies and gentlemen, the people ain’t been rejoicing much lately.”
Sheheen stressed the importance of re-electing Rep. Anthony in 2012 and pointed out that the entire state senate is up for re-election.
Following Sheheen’s speech, Hunter read a letter from local attorney Thom White, who donated $1,000 for the event. White stated he regretted being unable to attend, and that he would have been there if he and his wife, Ann, were not on the way to Vermont to visit their daughter.
Kenneth Williams, 91, was also introduced to those in attendance by Rep. Anthony.
“Mr. Williams is 91 years old and cares enough about the Democratic Party to be here tonight,” Anthony said. “He also delivers Meals on Wheels every day.”
Local officials in attendance included County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair, Mayor Harold Thompson, Joan Little and Dora Martin Jennings of the Union County Council, Orangelow Ruff of the Union City Council and B.J. McMorris of the Union County School Board.
The Union County Democratic Party meets on the last Monday of every month.