Wednesday, July 26, 2006

John Spratt versus Ralph Norman analysis

I did an analysis piece of the Fifth District Congressional race for my newspaper.

It apparently got noticed by a liberal blogger who commented on it and posted a link.

That blog is called Devinely Southern. Here's a link to the post/ Nathan Hollifeld and Adam Harris, Pay Attention. (link has expired.)

As a journalist, I do try to remain impartial in our political coverage. I know who I'm going to vote when the time comes around.

The analysis looks at the Spratt-Norman race in what I'll admit is a simple way. The claim is that the Fifth Congressional District is "trending Republican."

The claim is based on two things, I think — there was a lot of turnout for President Bush in the Fifth District in 2004, and York County is getting increasingly Republican as more people move in from up North.

But the Fifth District covers a wide geographical area. I looked at the results from the Presidential race in the Fifth District in 2004 AND the results of Spratt's campaign then. I also looked at the county-wide leadership where I could establish it. Spratt won every county in the Fifth District, by the way, in 2004. The margins were different, and allow a guess as to the trend. York County and Cherokee County have Republican leadership. But the rest of the district is pretty much Democratic.

Voting for Bush is not an indicator of a Republican trend, to my mind. The district may be more conservative, but that doesn't mean much about which party a person will vote for. He was a war president, and that counts heavily for many people. John Kerry was an abysmal candidate.

The leadership of the counties in question, and Spratt's incumbency are the actual important factors.

Weighing those, I decided if a county was trending Republican, Republican, or still Democratic.

I also have a lot of experience in the Fifth District from another perspective. From 1994 to 1997, I lived in Chesterfield County. We had crossover news from Marlboro, Dillon, Darlington and Florence counties, even a little from Kershaw and Lancaster. I still have a few buds in Cheraw, I think. The last time I went to the Chesterfield County Courthouse (last year), Ray Green, the caretaker, said hello to me and we chatted about the "good ol' days."

When I lived in Cheraw, I had to drive to Florence to go see movies, and shopped there a lot for Christmas presents. I read all the local papers in those communities.

I had a summer internship in Lancaster one year way back.

I now live in York County and work in Chester County. We have crossover news from Fairfield and Lancaster counties for our pub.

When I first moved to South Carolina, I lived in Spartanburg. The Herald-Journal covered Cherokee County, so I have an idea about those folks.

There are 12 counties in the Fifth District. I think I have a really good feel for four of them, and have a decent insight into another five or six.

When I moved out of Cheraw to Barnwell, I still got up to the Fifth District on occasion. My wife was in the same company as I, her paper was in Fairfield County. I read it every week, and went up there to fix the computers. When she left, I had to l do some long-distance editing of her paper, wrote an editorial once or twice, and laid the paper out.

I think I have a good idea what the Fifth District is like. So when I heard it was "trending Republican," I had to wonder about it. York County certainly is skewing the numbers. That's evident. But enough to unseat an incumbent with a good record of constituent service? I dunno.

For that I got called "Stephanie" by the blogger, who also said it was an "old-fashioned" journalistic approach that Norman's campaign ought to consider.

Funny thing, I got a call Tuesday morning from Norman's campaign manager. I wonder what prompted it?

Anyway, my piece is linked in the title. The blog guy corrected himself, graciously. I appreciated that.

In his initial e-mail about my piece (to Stephanie), he wrote, "You are an awesome writer and I can't believe I hadn't read anything you've written."

That cut, though it wasn't intended to. For 12 years now, I've been on the local newspaper scene, and made a name for myself in newspaper circles. But it's apparent the new blog wave doesn't look "down" to the local newspaper level.

We'll do what we can to get them to notice papers on this level, which are usually growing in circulation and have their fingers on the pulse of their individual communities much more.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Deb, A Dad -- Li'l ole me?

It's about three months ahead of the real important date.

It didn't happen at a ball or a cotillion.

And I'm a dude.

But I had my public "debut" last week.

As a Dad, not a deb.

I got "father-to-be" cards and some stuff for Father's Day. I was told I had to wear one gift from my mom and dad and sister Catherine for my "debut."

No, it was not a dress. But outerwear, to be sure. A package deal -- baseball cap, T-shirt and thick elastic wristband band that all say, "All-American Dad."

It is a bit unfortunate that my public "debut" as a dad comes three months and some change before the birth of Baby Guilfoyle, but I don't control my sisters, sister-in-law and mother, and they had a shower for my wife and me and baby-to-be.

Dutiful me, hen-pecked me, pistol-whipped-if-I-don't-play-along me showed up in "costume" and there I was, for the social circle of Mom and my sisters in the necropolis of Spartanburg, full on display.

I know how to wear a hat and T-shirt. After a couple of goes, I even put on the rubber band correctly.

I've got that down. I think I've also got it down how to be a "daddy."

That's the easy part. But as it gets closer and closer (you can track it here, btw) I begin to wonder if I can be a father. There's a difference, a big one, in my book.

A dad can be fun to have around. He'll play and tickle and make a baby laugh. A father is someone who from the beginning can mold a child into a good person.

My dad, Bud, is a role model for my aspirations here. Both a dad and a father to me.

Sometimes I think I can't take care of myself, let alone my wife, let alone our two dogs.

But Patricia fell in the tub the other day. I heard a thump and a bit of a screech. All who know me would be surprised at how fast I got up the stairs. She's got a bruise on her arm and had a few sniffles I couldn't do much about.

But I got there.

I do know I'm more likely to be the one who will wake up if the baby cries at night. When the doggies bark their heads off with a sudden urge to go outside , it's me who almost always hears it first, and usually me who does the nightly duty there.

She, on the other hand, can sleep through anything. I remember she planned a romantic Valentine's Day. And it started out romantic. Our movie and dinner date she booked included a stay at a hotel room.

But I had somehow caught a NASTY bug. At about 9 a.m. the next day, she woke up and found me in the bathroom.

She was a trifle shocked to learn I had been up all night, erupting like Mount St. Helens. I'm not sure. I got drunk enough that I know you can puke out your nose. I didn't know you could puke out your ears until that hell night.

I actually whimpered for help once or twice while she slept on. I know it was a bug because I got a call later the next day to come take care of her. She was having the same symptoms.

I am sure I'll be the one to wake up for our child. I know that I'll probably have to poke her ribs to get her up to handle the serious stuff, and in the early stages, probably the routine stuff. I hope it isn't always the case.

But I'll be the one who wakes up (if I'm not already awake).

If that sounds like not much, and possibly petty, please understand. It's the only thing I've got to go on with some certainty that says I'm going to play an important part in the early care of this child.

I'm old-fashioned enough that I don't think I should take the "courses" they have for parents these days. Nurse sister Catherine demands I sign up for baby CPR. I see the value in that.

But as for the more intangible part of being a father. no course at a hospital is going to be better than the 40 years I've spent watching Bud be Bud.

Since I am, as described above, dutiful me, hen-pecked me, pistol-whipped-if-I-don't-play-along me, I imagine there's a course or two that I'll be taking anyway, with the wife. But I log my formal objection herewith, and I'll probably treat them like kindergarten through my second year of college.

Wake me when it's over.

Anyway, I had my debut. Three months before Baby Guilfoyle is due to arrive, people know I'm on the verge of daddyhood.

Li'l ole me. Who'd have ever thought I had it in me?