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GOP rift continues between tea party activists, establishment types

Republican rift continues

Anybody who thought the Republican Party’s rift between tea party activists and establishment types went away with May’s U.S. Senate primary wasn’t at SouthPark’s Taco Mac restaurant last week.

There, about a dozen tea party activists met with Republican National Committee representative Mike Mears. Charlotte activist Dennis Peterson called it a “listening tour.”

“I respect that the RNC took the time to listen to our complaints and issues – however, everyone left with a feeling that there is a very large rift and not much demonstrable action is underway to repair,” Peterson wrote on “The Daily Haymaker” blog.

Peterson said the RNC representative wasn’t there to urge votes for U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis.

“It came up that the majority of grass-roots activists are not fans of his,” Peterson told the Observer. “I’ve heard a lot of people say they’re not going to vote in the race.”

One issue that did come up was this summer’s GOP Senate primary in Mississippi, where incumbent Thad Cochran narrowly turned back a tea party challenge from Chris McDaniel. Activists say Cochran supporters broadcast radio ads accusing McDaniel of “a racist agenda” ahead of their June runoff.

African-American turnout, high in the runoff, is credited with helping Cochran’s victory. On Friday a Mississippi judge dismissed McDaniel’s lawsuit trying to overturn the results. Jim Morrill

The guv and the trophy

Texas Gov. Rick Perry brought a 40-pound souvenir to Columbia that Gamecock fans hoped he would leave behind.

But he’ll take it back home because the Aggies grilled the Gamecocks 52-28.

Perry commissioned a bronze trophy of James Butler Bonham, a Saluda County, S.C., native who became a hero at the battle of the Alamo.

The trophy was to be exchanged between the governors of South Carolina and Texas based on who won the USC-Texas A&M matchup.

The schools are not taking part in the Bonham trophy.

Perry, an A&M grad who is considering another presidential run in 2016, headlined campaign fundraisers during a two-day visit to Columbia. Andrew Shain, The State

The congressman’s book

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn has seen a lot of history in his 74 years – and even made some.

As a student at S.C. State University in the early 1960s, he took part in the civil rights struggles and met his wife, Emily, in an Orangeburg jail after both were arrested during a protest.

Clyburn became an adviser to Gov. John West, his state’s first African-American to hold such a post. He went on to serve nearly two decades as South Carolina’s human affairs commissioner and was elected to Congress in 1992. In 2006, he rose to become the third-ranking member of the U.S. House.

Now he’s recounted those times and more in a book called “Blessed Experiences: Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black.”

“All of my experiences have not been pleasant, but I consider all of them to be blessings,” he told reporters last week at a Gantt Center reception.

Clyburn plans to join fellow African-American lawmakers John Lewis of Georgia and Elijah Cummings of Maryland in mobilizing Democratic voters ahead of November’s election.

“I plan to spend as much time in North Carolina as North Carolinians can tolerate,” he said. Jim Morrill

McHenry caucus expands

Rep. Patrick McHenry became a father for the first time Aug. 15 when his wife, Giulia, gave birth to a 5-pound, 15-oz. baby girl.

He wrote: “Welcome to the world Miss Cecelia Rose McHenry … The first (name) is from Patrick’s two paternal great-grandmothers, both named Cecelia. The middle comes from Giulia’s beloved (great) Aunt Rose, who raised her maternal grandfather.

“Both Mom and baby are healthy and sleeping well at the moment. Dad can’t stop looking at the new baby long enough to sleep. Thank you all for your encouragement, thought and prayers!” Politico

The anti-Hillary

Four years ago, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders made headlines with a passionate, eight-hour speech on the Senate floor lambasting renewal of the Bush-era tax cuts and bemoaning the growing gap between rich and poor.

Now Sanders, one of the Senate’s two independents, is taking that message on the road. On his itinerary: the early presidential primary states of Iowa and South Carolina.

On Wednesday, Sanders was in Charlotte to accept an award from the American Legion during its national convention. Sanders, who chairs the Senate’s Veterans’ Affairs Committee, was honored with the Legion’s Patriot Award.

“The cost of war doesn’t end when the last shots are fired or the last missiles are launched,” he told the Legion audience. “The cost of war continues until the vet receives all of the benefits that he or she has earned.”

But when Sanders met with a reporter, it wasn’t veterans that he wanted to talk about. It was the same subject he talked about four years ago and one he’s cared about for a long time.

“The main issue that I have is that in America today the middle class is disappearing while the gap between rich and poor is growing wider,” he said. “...We need more people in politics working for ordinary people and not just the top 1 percent.”

Sanders, who turns 73 in two weeks, says he hasn’t made up his mind about 2016. And he’s under no illusions about the prospect for a democratic socialist from Vermont getting the nomination, particularly in a field that could include a well-funded Hillary Clinton.

“I realize I’m not a household name,” says Sanders, who refuses corporate donations though he has taken money from organized labor.

But he thinks there might be an opening for somebody with the right message. And he’s going around the country seeing whether audiences agree.

“I think the average American is a lot more frustrated with the establishment than a lot of people perceive,” he says. “I think there’s receptivity for voices that are going to speak for a working class that is being battered.” Jim Morrill

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