Nikki Haley will win re-election in 2014. It is inevitable.
That is unless some monumentally bad happens.
Like an alien invasion.
Or a zombie apocalypse
Or the second coming of Jerry Falwell.
Something so horrendous that life itself has changed for all the five million people South Carolinians call home.
And even if that happens, Vincent Sheheen still won't have a shot.
But none of that is stopping Haley's likely Democratic opponent from doing his damnedest to defeat her. Consider today's email blast if you will in which Sheheen delivers one devastating blow after another to the good governor's chin. And state Sen. Sheheen knows exactly where to hit Haley where it hurts: her handling of the Department of Revenue hack.
The hacking was a horrible and preventable disgrace. First, under Nikki Haley, South Carolina's Department of Revenue failed to enroll in the most basic protection services available that act as a first step in protection for other agencies and states around the nation. Second, a key cyber security director position at her Dept of Revenue was left vacant for a year while Governor Haley rewarded her campaign staff with other jobs they had little experience for in the administration. Third, the person in the cybersecurity position had quit prior to the hacking due to frustration that his repeated warnings about the vulnerability of the Dept of Revenue went unheeded by Nikki Haley and her closest advisers.
By covering-up the hacking for 16 days, Nikki Haley failed the test of leadership. After learning that millions of people in our state had been exposed to great risk under her watch, Nikki Haley's first instinct was to cover it up. She waited more than two weeks, hired a lawyer, lined up her public relations firm, and covered her tail before deciding it was the right time to let the people she was elected to serve know they were at risk. Then, when she did finally break the news, the story was ever-changing as she flip-flopped back and forth trying to paint a rosier picture. First she said nothing could have been done to prevent it. That wasn't true. Then she said that no businesses were affected. That wasn't true. Then she said no children were affected, that wasn't true.
The test of leadership is not what you do when things are going smoothly, but what you do in the tough times. And Nikki Haley's choice to cover the hacking up for more than two weeks, and never really be honest with the people of South Carolina was an even bigger breach of the public trust than the hacking itself.
And then finally, he drops this one:
Hacking victims continue to suffer because of the poor choices by Nikki Haley and her administration. Governor Haley hand-picked Experian and awarded them a $12 million no-bid contract to monitor credit reports and send you an email once your identity has been stolen. One year later, Experian decided not to continue their contract with the state and instead began using the information collected from hacking victims to solicit them for business and additional fees. Experian is also allowed to sell people's personal data and information to other research companies, and prior to receiving the no-bid contract from Nikki Haley, had been duped into selling data to identity thieves in Vietnam. Even now, in moving on to the next credit monitoring service for the upcoming year, South Carolinians are suffering through major problems in trying to sign up and not able to get access to the services they've been promised leaving another dangerous lag time. It's inexcusable.
Wow. If only Sheheen had shown this kind of ferocity when he ran against Haley in 2010. If he had — back when Haley's proclivity for staging performance art public relations disasters seem fresh and frighteningly unbecoming of a gubernatorial candidate — then Sheheen could very well be the man sitting in the Governor's Mansion right how. But now — I just don't think any of this really even matters.
Haley's certainly not the most popular governor, but she's well enough liked by the SCGOP base that she's not going anywhere. South Carolina is a one-party state after all.
To make matters worse, as bad as the Department of Revenue hack is, it's repercussions haven't been truly felt by South Carolinians just yet — nor will they likely be for awhile. The experts who follow this kind of massive data breach have said that it may be years before the thieves who stole South Carolina taxpayer information even begin to use what they have. Right now, most voters know that their IDs have been stolen — and that the Haley administration's ineptitude is to blame — but right here, right now, they haven't been harmed. And chances are, they probably won't be.
So while Vincent Sheheen is wise to attack Haley on the hacking scandal — and to paint her as the incompetent hissy-fit Pollyanna PR flak that she is — it will never resonate enough with South Carolina's Republican base to unseat her in 2014.