Dear Sen. Rankin,
It's election time again, and it’s been so nice to hear from you. Every four years, my mailbox is filled with your promises to voters and ugly accusations about your opponent. That's politics, it's predictable and it's served you well for 24 years. But I must admit, it gets tiresome.
I like you, Luke. We're both Conway natives, and you're certainly one of our town's golden boys, from a well-respected family, charming, smart, handsome and so very popular. You've been extremely successful as a lawyer. Some say it's because you, as a senator, appoint the judges who rule on your cases, but I'm sure it has only a minor influence.
When I returned home in the early '90s to help my parents, you won your first election to the Senate. Like your family, you were a die-hard Democrat and you voted with the Democrats on every issue - until Horry became solidly-Republican. I don't blame you for switching a few years ago - that's where the votes are - and I do think it's clever that you continue to align yourself with the Democrats on most every issue. The voters in Horry don't really keep up with the details of who voted for what in Columbia, do they? A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.
Our legislature is a mess, Luke. It's embarrassing to be given a D- by the Center for Public Integrity for some of the weakest laws governing integrity in the entire nation. It's why there is such a lack of trust of our state's governing body. I realize you've said nothing needs changing, that you guys can police yourselves when lobbying money dictates votes, or when campaign funds are used for personal expenses. Your chairing the Ethics Committee insures that transparency will never be allowed. At least you stand up for your principles.
For the 16 years I served on Horry County Council, especially the eight years as chair, it hurt my feelings that you ignored our pleas for assistance. It was ironic that our go-to senator was Yancey McGill, who lives in Williamsburg County and only covered a sliver of Horry. Maybe in your seventh term you'll realize that you and County Council represent the same citizens, and you'll team up for the good of Horry.
I do appreciate your over-riding the governor's veto and aid to our farmers (even though there are few farms between Conway and the beach) and your helping Myrtle Beach City Council re-impose their unpopular penny tax without voter approval. What we really needed was help with some dreadfully over-bearing HOA Boards. I appreciate your chairing that committee as well, even though you took no action. Lots of neighborhoods were really angry about that. But they'll get over it, right?
I must say, it's good to see you focus on roads this election. After 24 years of inaction while our state roads deteriorated to the point where our citizens pay increased car repairs and economic development is beginning to suffer, your promise of action is to be commended.
There is one concern I must mention. Every time I've visited our State House during session, your desk is piled high with stacks of packets on every issue to be voted on. I mean, stacks almost two feet tall, covering your entire desk! I notice it because all the senators present have clean desks. How do you ever keep up when you miss the debates on so many issues and get so far behind in your reading?
It reminds me of why Rep. George Hearn left his House seat. He said he could be either a good House member or he could be a good lawyer, but he couldn't be both. You've been a very successful layer, senator.
Well, I should close now. I feel sure you'll win this 7th term, as most career politicians do, and I look forward to hearing from you again - in four years.
The writer is former chairwoman of Horry County Council.