Republicans have made historical inroads into state government, and the GOP victories in the governor and superintendent of education races could bring major change to the way South Carolina is governed.
Both Gov. Carroll Campbell and Superintendent of Education-elect Barbara Nielsen campaigned on specific promises and platforms of change. The two can be counted on to remind recalcitrant lawmakers that voters endorsed those changes by electing them.Campbell, who won about 70 percent of the vote against the disorganized campaign of Democratic state Sen. Theo Mitchell, wants to enact sweeping revisions of state government and pull more agencies under the chief executive's control.
Campbell began arguing Wednesday that voters gave him a ``mandate' to try for those changes.
``I'm going in for major changes in government,' Campbell said Wednesday. ``We will try to seek as much as the executive type of government as we possibly can.'
Campbell did not discuss details of his plan, saying he did not want to steal the thunder from his January State of the State address to the General Assembly.
But he promised to unveil a ``complete program' for streamlining government. He added a cabinet ``would be the best form of government we could have as far as the management side.'
The governor's office has little real power. But Campbell, following in the footsteps of Dick Riley, his Democratic predecessor, has taken advantage of the ``bully pulpit' of the governor's office to push his own agenda.
``He's looking for ways to strengthen the governorship,' said Earl Black, political science professor at the University of South Carolina.
Black noted that Campbell will also gain influence in the education department because of the election of Nielsen, who he had championed in the campaign's last days.
Nielsen, who will take over the state's largest agency in January, also plans to use her strong victory as a way to mold a different state Department of Education.