Robert Ford (politician)

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This article is about the South Carolina politician. For other people named Robert Ford, see Robert Ford (disambiguation).
Robert Ford
Member of the South Carolina Senate
from the 42nd district
In office
1993–2013
Preceded by Herbert Fielding[1]
Member of the Charleston City Council
In office
1974–1992
Personal details
Born (1948-12-26) December 26, 1948 (age 65)
New Orleans, Louisiana
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) None (single)
Residence Charleston, South Carolina
Alma mater Grambling State University, Wayne State University
Occupation Politician[2]
Religion Methodist
Website Senator Robert Ford

Robert Ford (born December 26, 1948) is an American politician who served as a Democratic member of the South Carolina Senate since 1993, representing District 42, which is located in Charleston. From 1974 to 1992, he served as a member of the Charleston City Council.

Originally involved in the civil rights movement, several of Ford's public statements and legislative proposals as senator attracted media attention and controversy. He finished in third place in the June 2010 Democratic primary election for Governor of South Carolina. He resigned on May 31, 2013, in the midst of a political scandal on public funds spent in adult establishments.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Ford was born in New Orleans, Louisiana;[4] his parents were leaders in the African American community.[5] Ford attended Wayne State University[4] and Grambling State University, from which he was expelled in 1969 before graduating for leading civil rights demonstrations. He was expelled by the university, despite it being historically black, because it relied on public funds which were controlled by a state government opposed to desegregation.[5] Ford was a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference staff from 1966 to 1972[4] and worked for Martin Luther King, Jr. as a member of an advance team of the Poor People's Campaign.[6] He was arrested 73 times for participating in protests during the civil rights movement. In 1973, he won a draft evasion trial on basis of conscientious objection.[5] Ford worked as a car salesman[7] and later became a full-time legislator.[7] Ford is a lifelong bachelor.[5]

Political career[edit]

Ford was elected to serve on the Charleston City Council, where he served from 1974 to 1992,[4] and ran for the State Senate and was elected on November 3, 1992,[8] taking office in 1993.[7] He was reelected in 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008. He serves on the Senate Committees on Banking and Insurance, Corrections and Penology, General, Invitations, Judiciary, and Labor, Commerce and Industry,[4] and is the ranking Democrat on several committees.[9] Ford is a member of the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus.[10] Ford resigned on May 31, 20132 during a brewing campaign finance scandal.

Ford has been described as entertaining, controversial,[7] and politically incorrect.[11] He supported Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries and questioned Barack Obama's appeal to white voters.[12] Ford later apologized for his comments, stating that any Democrat could win[12] and that he had supported other African American candidates for president in the past.[13] Ford's comments prompted a primary challenge in 2008 from Charleston lawyer Dwayne Green.[2] In the beginning of his campaign, Green managed to raise double the amount of campaign funds Ford raised,[14] and although Ford's fundraising improved[15] he for the first time attended a candidate forum to receive free publicity, because his campaign had financial difficulty resulting from the contested primary and a fire in his home.[16] Green was defeated in the primary election by a wide margin.[17] Ford praised Obama's election in November 2008, but criticized South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn's family for allegedly attempting to profit off Obama's victory.[18]

Political positions[edit]

As senator, Ford has introduced many bills with only a small number becoming law, but has been more successful in contributing to compromise bills.[5] After becoming senator, Ford attempted to have the Confederate flag removed from the South Carolina State House.[19] It was the last state capitol to display a Confederate battle flag, and Ford had picketed the building in the 1960s as a symbol of discrimination.[5] Following years of debate, the flag was moved to a nearby monument with the adoption of a compromise bill authored by Ford.[5] He was responsible for the passage of a 1998[20] bill that paired Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with Confederate Memorial Day as paid holidays.[21] Ford stated that he hoped the legislation would improve race relations in South Carolina.

Ford described the election of judges by popular vote as a major goal[11] and supported increasing the number of judges.[22] He supported giving more authority to law enforcement, including the ability to search people on parole and probation without warrant, making attempted murder a crime with lifelong sentence, and increasing penalties for possession of illegal guns.[23] Ford is a proponent of stricter regulations of the financial industry.[24] He sponsored a 2006 ban on payday lending,[25] which was shown to discriminate against African Americans.[26] In 2008, Ford blocked all House bills in the Senate until the bill was taken up.[27] The bill failed in the Senate by a close vote and was heavily amended so lenders would not be banned but restricted. The bill then passed with Ford voting in favor but failed to advance after changes made in the House.[28] A bill preventing consumers from taking out more than one loan at a time passed the House in 2009.[29] Ford supported offshore drilling, stating conservation was not a priority for most citizens of the state.[30] Geologists believe there is little oil to be found off the South Carolina coast.[31] Ford wants to prevent the widening of Interstate 26 through Charleston, calling instead for a study for transportation needs.[32] Ford emphasized the need for more funding for school programs, which he claimed is necessary due to the small number of pupils attending college[33] and to remedy lacks of knowledge in geography and civics, which he wants reinstated as a school subject.[34] Ford was told about favoritism, intimidation and racism in the South Carolina Highway Patrol[35] and publicized it with Glenn McConnell.[36] Subsequently, director and deputy director of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety resigned under pressure from governor Mark Sanford.[37]

Ford sponsored legislation defining a hate crime "as an assault, intimidation or threat based on 'actual or perceived' race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin and sexual orientation."[38] He also introduced several bills concerning gay rights in lodging,[39] hospital visitation rights[40] and partnerships. His partnership bill would provide for civil unions in South Carolina.[41] The effort was judged by state senator Mike Fair as predetermined to fail, but Ford cited the Democratic National Committee's platform on the issue and argued that Barack Obama's election showed that a change should be attempted.[42] Even if passed, the measure would be unenforceable, due to a constitutional amendment banning unions similar to marriage in South Carolina. Ford worked to outlaw profanity[43][44] and saggy pants and to keep music from minors that is "profane, vulgar, lewd, lascivious or indecent."[45] Ford argued he did not expect these proposals to be approved but wanted to start a discussion specifically targeting young African American men's fashion as well as rap music. He stated: "You don't have to emulate prisoners no more. You can emulate somebody like Barack Obama."[45]

Ford often opposed governor Mark Sanford's political goals, arguing his proposed reforms were unwanted by the public,[46] and he mostly opposed Sanford's fiscal policy and worked to override budget vetoes by the governor, claiming he was removed from the interests of citizens.[47] An exception were security measures for the State House complex which Ford agreed were too costly.[48] He also opposed Sanford's goal to increase the number of roll calls in the State Senate[49] and voted against a 2008 immigration reform bill favored by Sanford, stating it would be an ineffective deterrent and would lead to less driving safety.[50] The reform would have required all employers to use state driver's licenses or a database from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to check the legal status of workers.[51] Ford co-sponsored a bill with Glenn McConnell that would limit the governor's authority to appoint and remove board members overseeing the Charleston port and increase required qualifications for board members.[52] Ford opposed a bill giving Sanford authority over the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.[53]

2010 Gubernatorial candidacy[edit]

Ford ran to succeed Mark Sanford as Governor of South Carolina in the 2010 gubernatorial election.[7] His platform included reinstating video poker to the state to generate returns from taxes on the gaming industry in an effort to balance the state budget,[54] something he has proposed since the late 1990s.[55] A law Ford sponsored in 2008 to make gambling legal failed to advance;[56] he planned a voter referendum to repeal the ban.[7] Ford faced state senator Vincent A. Sheheen of Camden and State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex in a primary election.[57] Sheheen's campaign has raised $33,000 as of January 2009, while Ford's campaign raised $6,000.[54] On June 8, 2010, Ford finished in third place in the primary election with 18 percent of the vote.[57]

Electoral history[edit]

South Carolina State Senator, 42nd Senatorial District, 1992[8]

Primary election, August 25, 1992

Threshold > 50%

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Robert Ford Democratic 3,417 (62.47%) Elected
Margaret Rush Democratic 2,053 (37.53%) Defeated

Ford won the general election unopposed on November 3, 1992.

South Carolina State Senator, 42nd Senatorial District, 1996[58]

Ford did not have a primary opponent on June 11, 1996.

General election, November 5, 1996

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Robert Ford Democratic 11,315 (64.87%) Elected
Tim Scott Republican 6,110 (35.03%) Defeated

South Carolina State Senator, 42nd Senatorial District, 2000[59]

Primary election

Threshold > 50%

First Ballot, June 13, 2000

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Robert Ford Democratic 2,112 (48.64%) Run-off
Maurice Washington Democratic 1,191 (27.43%) Run-off
Reuben R. Reeder Democratic 1,039 (23.93%) Defeated

Second Ballot, June 27, 2000

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Robert Ford Democratic 2,397 (60.35%) Elected
Maurice Washington Democratic 1,575 (39.65%) Defeated

Ford won the general election unopposed on November 7, 2000.

South Carolina State Senator, 42nd Senatorial District, 2004[60]

Primary election, June 8, 2004

Threshold > 50%

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Robert Ford Democratic 2,684 (89.35%) Elected
Brian K. Maxwell Democratic 320 (10.65%) Defeated

General election, November 2, 2004

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Robert Ford Democratic 14,677 (69.03%) Elected
Maurice Washington Petition 6.580 (30.95%) Defeated

South Carolina State Senator, 42nd Senatorial District, 2008

Primary election, June 10, 2008[17]

Threshold > 50%

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Robert Ford Democratic 3,793 (74.72%) Elected
Dwayne M. Green Democratic 1,283 (25.28%) Defeated

General election, November 4, 2008[61]

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Robert Ford Democratic 22,660 (81.82%) Elected
Scotty Sheriff Republican 5,014 (18.11%) Defeated

South Carolina State Senator, 42nd Senatorial District, 2012

Senator Ford was unopposed for reelection in both the Democratic primary[62] and the general election.[63]

General election, November 6, 2012

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Robert Ford Democratic 30,064 (98.82%) Elected
Various Write-in 360 (1.18%)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "South Carolina Election Commission Annual Report 1988-1989" (PDF). South Carolina State Election Commission. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  2. ^ a b Behre, Robert (2008-05-12). "Green, Ford battle rages". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-08.  ("While Ford's Senate biography describes his occupation as 'developer,' he said he's a full-time senator.")
  3. ^ "South Carolina Sen. Robert Ford resigns; announcement made during ethics hearing". Retrieved 2013-05-31. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Senator Robert Ford". South Carolina Senate. Archived from the original on 2008-12-02. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Wenger, Yvonne (2009-01-14). "The odd couple". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  6. ^ Petersen, Bo (2008-04-08). "6 recall the horror, sadness of slaying". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Wenger, Yvonne (2009-01-14). "Ford to focus on return of video poker". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  8. ^ a b "South Carolina Election Commission Annual Report 1992-1993" (PDF). South Carolina State Election Commission. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  9. ^ Wenger, Yvonne (2008-11-02). "Ford, Sheriff address issues". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  10. ^ "Senator Robert Ford". South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus. Retrieved 2009-02-17. [dead link]
  11. ^ a b Wenger, Yvonne (2008-09-24). "Ford battles political newcomer Sheriff". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  12. ^ a b Miller, David L. (2007-02-13). "2 Key Black Politicians Endorse Clinton". Associated Press (CBS News). Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  13. ^ Hunter, Jennifer (2008-01-26). "Down to the wire in S. Carolina". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-02-08. [dead link]
  14. ^ Behre, Robert (2008-04-16). "Green passes Ford in Senate race cash". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  15. ^ Behre, Robert (2008-06-07). "Race for 9th Circuit pricey". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  16. ^ Behre, Robert (2008-10-20). "Ford changes tactics as his funds run out". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  17. ^ a b "2008 Republican and Democratic Primary". South Carolina State Election Commission. 2008-06-27. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  18. ^ Behre, Robert (2008-11-26). "Remarks 'kind of strange'". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  19. ^ Collins, Jeffrey (2008-07-21). "Little local echo for new NAACP flag boycott". Associated Press (The Times and Democrat). Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  20. ^ Petersen, Bo (2009-02-04). "Sen. Ford wants 2 holidays observed". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-13. 
  21. ^ Davenport, Jim (2009-02-03). "Bill Would Require Paid Confederate Holiday in SC". Associated Press (ABC News). Retrieved 2009-02-13. [dead link]
  22. ^ Wenger, Yvonne (2008-06-30). "'Next step' DNA sampling bill now in Sanford's hands". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  23. ^ Wenger, Yvonne (2009-01-30). "Riley enlists crime-fighting posse". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  24. ^ Wenger, Yvonne (2007-09-20). "Legislators join suit over loans". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  25. ^ Wenger, Yvonne (2008-02-25). "Payday lenders might be reined in". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  26. ^ Wenger, Yvonne (2007-10-08). "Examining rates for blacks". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  27. ^ Wenger, Yvonne (2008-05-21). "Ford vies to keep payday bill alive". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  28. ^ Burris, Roddie (2009-02-15). "Lawmakers vs. payday loans: ’08 vote was a turning point". The State (newspaper). Retrieved 2009-02-21. [dead link]
  29. ^ Adcox, Seanna (2009-02-12). "Payday lending bill advances". Associated Press (The Post and Courier). Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  30. ^ Wenger, Yvonne (2008-07-17). "Ford to propose measure to allow drilling off S.C. coast". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  31. ^ Smith, Bruce (2008-07-17). "Geologists say little oil to drill off S.C. coast". Associated Press (The State (newspaper)). Retrieved 2009-02-21. [dead link]
  32. ^ Hicks, Brian (2007-05-23). "Throttle back on I-26 widening, Ford says". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  33. ^ Courrégé, Diette (2008-11-28). "Ford builds on program". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  34. ^ Hicks, Brian (2008-09-26). "Got civics? Does the Electoral College give out scholarships?". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  35. ^ Hicks, Brian; Wenger, Yvonne (2008-03-07). "Patrol to get hard look". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  36. ^ Hicks, Brian; Wenger, Yvonne (2008-04-26). "Files detail trooper misdeeds". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  37. ^ Wenger, Yvonne (2008-02-29). "Highway patrol officials resign in wake of racial incidents among troopers". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  38. ^ Parker, Adam (2007-05-27). "Mom urges hate crime law in S.C.". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  39. ^ "2009-2010 Bill 39: Lodging Establishment Act". South Carolina General Assembly. 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  40. ^ "2009-2010 Bill 40: Authorized visitor designation". South Carolina General Assembly. 2009-010-14. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  41. ^ "2009-2010 Bill 42: Civil Union Equality Act". South Carolina General Assembly. 2009-02-05. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  42. ^ Kittle, Robert (2009-02-04). "State Senator Pushing For Same-Sex Civil Unions In S.C.". WSPA-TV. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  43. ^ Collins, Larry (2009-01-25). "Sen. Robert Ford pushes to outlaw profanity". WCBD-TV. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  44. ^ "2009-2010 Bill 56: Profanity". South Carolina General Assembly. 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  45. ^ a b Adcox, Seanna (2009-01-16). "Ford crusade targets baggy pants". Associated Press (The Post and Courier). Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  46. ^ Behre, Robert (2007-09-07). "Sanford ready to take on legislators". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  47. ^ Wenger, Yvonne (2007-06-28). "Governor's vetoes total $167 million". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  48. ^ Wenger, Yvonne (2008-10-11). "Statehouse security measures under fire". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  49. ^ Wenger, Yvonne (2008-09-25). "Effort to force roll calls begins". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  50. ^ Haglund, Noah; Wenger, Yvonne (2008-06-16). "Human cost of unlicensed drivers". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  51. ^ Wenger, Yvonne (2008-05-15). "Senate votes down immigration bill". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  52. ^ Bird, Allyson (2009-02-19). "Senate advances SPA reforms". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  53. ^ Fretwell, Sammy (2009-02-04). "Governor should control DHEC, senators say". The State (newspaper). Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  54. ^ a b Davenport, Jim (2009-01-18). "S.C. Democrats lining up for governor's race". Associated Press (Aiken Standard). Retrieved 2009-03-03. 
  55. ^ Munday, Dave (2007-08-04). "Road funding a priority, legislators say". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  56. ^ Behre, Robert (2008-04-08). "Gambling law change unlikely anytime soon". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  57. ^ a b Wenger, Yvonne (June 8, 2010). "Sheheen wins Dems nomination for governor; Haley and Barrett headed for GOP runoff". The Post and Courier. Retrieved June 8, 2010. 
  58. ^ "South Carolina Election Report 1995-1996" (PDF). South Carolina State Election Commission. May 1997. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  59. ^ "South Carolina Election Report 2000" (PDF). South Carolina State Election Commission. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  60. ^ "2004 Election Report" (PDF). South Carolina State Election Commission. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  61. ^ "2008 General Election". South Carolina State Election Commission. 2008-11-21. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  62. ^ "2012 Republican and Democratic Primary". South Carolina State Election Commission. 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  63. ^ "2012 General Election". South Carolina State Election Commission. 2013-04-09. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 

External links[edit]