176 votes!

That’s how many votes the House cast today during the first day of floor “debate” on the budget. Let me put that in context for you. While opponents love to see any “missed votes” by elected officials; frankly, not all votes are equal.

I remember in my primary last year, my opponents tried to create an issue that I had missed “100+ votes out of 200.” Something to the effect of trying to make it look like I missed half the votes we took for the year and that I was somehow not doing my job. (Sidenote: I had actually missed the first day of the budget back then due to an obligation with my paying job). There’s too much to unwind there, I don’t have the time or bandwith here to unravel again; but the voters saw through that smear (and others) and re-elected me with an overwhelming 70% vote compared to 25% and 5% for the other 2 opponents.

The votes today were never in doubt and were basically “non contested” in the sense that on the first day of the budget, the House goes through each section ( with a ROLL CALL VOTE – by the way, my bill with former Rep and Governor Nikki Haley ) that does not have any amendments on the desk OR has that does not have a request from a member to “carry over” until later in the week (where we would actually debate the sections). As you can see by the photo, most votes are unanimous or close to unanimous. If you want to click on the link above (176 votes) you will see the “closest” vote on a section today was 72-32 and 66-19. The OVERWHELMING number of votes were unanimous or had no more than 1-4 members voting against.

Every first day of the budget is like this. It’s the rest of the week where the votes “matter” and will actually be contested.

Simply put, before you fall for an opponent’s attack against an elected official (or a special interest group’s attack), just call your Representative or Senator and ask what happened. Today there were several members who were away from the chamber. Many of us have paying jobs and sometimes those jobs (or families) take priority over what are considered, basically, uncontested votes.

Just wanted to share this today for my colleagues who may have been absent or abstained from votes (many attorneys have conflicts of interest). I’d hate for them to be smeared like me and others have been in the past. I get it, that’s SC politics. It’s no fun; but the public deserves to know the story behind the votes. It’s exactly what my colleagues told me when they fought against roll-call voting. They knew that it would simply be “gotcha” for slick consultants and opponents to use against them in mail pieces or on the campaign trail.

Even though I was a part of “gotcha” politics by others manipulating the voting numbers, I would still lead the push again for roll call voting because there ARE many votes that matter and our constituents need to know where we stand on those issues.

As always, if you have an issue important to you, let your elected official know! Tomorrow we begin the “real debate” on the budget – we’ll be in chamber again all day; so make your voice heard.