Dear Friends,

This spring hundreds of candidates were kicked off the ballot for a legal technicality which did not apply to incumbents.

Despite that setback, there is opportunity. The reform movement is poised to gain enough votes in the South Carolina Senate to allow passage of taxpayer friendly legislation that has languished for many years.  This is due to a mixture of primary wins, Senators retiring and opportunities to pick up a few seats in November.

Every single Senate race counts.  For example, the legislative session ended a few months ago with reform minded Senators falling a single vote shy of finally passing legislation (first proposed a full decade ago) that would replace the archaic Budget and Control Board.

One single vote short.  The good news is that two of the Senators who voted the wrong way on this and many other close votes are in the fights of their political lives this fall.  So we present to you information on them, their races and the two women who should replace them.

Katrina Shealy (Senate District 23 – Lexington County) 

With almost 30 years of experience in the insurance industry and a husband who owns a small business, Lexington County resident Katrina Shealy understands that more regulations and higher taxes hurt job creation.

She will fight for tax reform and against job killing regulations.

In her run for state Senate four years ago Katrina won the 3-way primary, but narrowly lost to the incumbent in the runoff. This was largely because of a significant effort to get Democrats to vote in the Republican race.

Why would Democrats turn out in droves to vote for a self-proclaimed Republican? Simple – supposed-Republican Senator Jake Knotts regularly votes with the Democrats.

There is no bigger barrier to reform in the SC legislature than Jake Knotts.  On our most recent scorecard Knotts scored an F with a grade of 24 which is consistent with his career average of 21 out of 100.

Remember the aforementioned effort to kick hundreds of challengers off ballots?  That was instigated by Senator Knotts. He was so desperate to hold onto his seat he initiated the legal fiasco which ultimately denied over one million voters the right to choose their elected officials.

Fortunately Katrina worked quickly to gather the thousands of signatures necessary to get on the ballot as a petition candidate.  Given his recent reprimand by the Ethics Committee because he, “broke many campaign finance laws” and he even called our governor a “raghead,” Knotts has become an embarrassment to the Republican Party. In fact, both the local and state parties have taken the extraordinary steps of endorsing his opponent, Katrina Shealy.

As the former Chairwoman of the Lexington County Republican Party, Katrina has significant grassroots and party support but needs our help to educate the public that a straight ticket Republican vote actually puts a liberal back in office.  Polling shows this to be a very winnable race if we can help her get the funds for that education effort.

Please join us by investing generously in Katrina’s campaign in order to remove the roadblock to reform that is Jake Knotts.

Deedee Vaughters (Senate District 26 – Lexington and Aiken Counties)

Deedee is a lifelong South Carolina resident, wife of a physician on our board, mother of three children and a former member of the SC Policy Council Board.  As if that wasn’t enough, she also owns a small business and helps manage her husband’s medical practice!  Through real world experience and her up close look at state government, she “gets it” in ways that most candidates and even legislators never will.

Since she began her campaign over a year ago, Deedee has knocked on over 6,000 doors and raised over $70,000. These are impressive numbers for a senate race but her Democrat opponent is a 35-year incumbent and personal injury attorney with over $180,000 in his campaign account.

Senator Setzler has campaigned as a “compassionate conservative” because he knows his district is trending Republican. His voting record and recent SC Club for Growth scorecard score of 23 tell a different story.

He voted to spend almost $1 million on a “Green Bean Museum” and even voted to raise the Senate’s own budget by $3 million in a tough budget year which saw teachers laid off due to budget cuts.

Setzler is also one of the Senators taking advantage of a special legislative perk that allows him to take his legislative pension while still in office. This sweetheart deal pays him more for his part time job as a legislator than average South Carolinians make working full time!

He also takes a $131 per day hotel and meal reimbursement every legislative day even though he lives in West Columbia, just a few minutes from the Statehouse.  In fact, last year he took home over $55,000 as a part time Senator plus another $70,000 in taxpayer funds from some local governments for alleged legal work.

The difference between Deedee and Setzler could not be any clearer. Deedee runs a small business and medical office while Setzler is a personal injury lawyer who sues job creators.  Deedee will fight for the best education for our children whereas Setzler supported a budget that provided millions more for legislative staffers while laying off teachers.  Deedee turned down taxpayer-funded benefits when serving on a state board while Setzler is taking advantage of his 35 years in office and the system to pull in over $120,000 from taxpayers for part-time work.

Polling shows Deedee has closed the gap and can win this race if she can get the word out about her opponent and his record. She is an incredibly bright, hard-working woman who needs our help getting her across the finish line.  We need her energy, knowledge and courage in the Senate so please join us in generously supporting Deedee’s campaign.

South Carolina Club for Growth PAC

During the primaries and the runoffs we had over an 80% success rate in the races where we were involved. Your donations and the PAC’s contributions made a huge difference in these races and even helped some of our endorsed candidates come from behind in the polls to win their races!

We are always very careful to only ask for your investment in races where our direct and PAC funds can make the difference. The two races mentioned above are very tight races that can go either way depending on our help.

We need more reform-minded voters in the Senate and have two incredible opportunities to pick them up by supporting our PAC and Katrina’s and Deedee’s campaigns.  We expect both of these races to come down to the wire and the results may well determine whether we narrowly win or lose crucial votes in the Senate over the next four years.

All investments in candidates and our PAC – no matter the size – help both the candidates and the entire reform movement by showing the broadening base of support for taking back our state government.

Thanks in advance for any amount you can contribute.


David Ellison, Chairman
P.S.  – Due to the large number of candidates kicked off the ballot, this may well be our only bundling asks of the 2012 general election cycle so we would ask that you please give generously to the two campaigns as well as our PAC. 


Editor’s Note: The above communication is a news release that does not necessarily reflect the editorial position of To submit your letter, news release, email blast, media advisory or issues statement for publication, click here).