A veteran South Carolina political consultant widely presumed to be at odds with S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley threw the embattled first-term executive some unexpected love this week.

The surprise compliment came courtesy of Richard Quinn, Sr. – a hugely influential political consultant whose client roster includes fiscal liberals like U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell and S.C. Senate President John Courson.   The context?  A major spread in The Politico which explores Haley’s vulnerability in the 2014 general election.

“I’ve seen her mature over the years and I think she’ll be fine,” Quinn said of Haley.

Really?  Haley has matured?

Last time we checked she was refusing to provide Winthrop University’s retiring president with a particular state honor because she didn’t like his school’s poll results.  Oh and endorsing fiscal liberals for the U.S. Congress based on personal grudges.

Anyway, Quinn’s quote was published on the same day that his son, former S.C. Majority Leader Rick Quinn, rolled out legislation that would strip governors of their ability to fill U.S. Senate vacancies.  Haley is currently in the process of appointing an interim replacement for U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint – who stepped down from his post to lead a Washington, D.C. think tank.

Quinn’s legislation would fill such vacancies via a special election in the future.

Of course it also came on the same day that another Quinn client – S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis – began telling several of his key supporters he was seeking reelection to his current post as opposed to running against Haley in a GOP primary in 2014.

Securing the allegiance of “the Quinndom” would be a major coup for Haley, who is officially the underdog in her 2014 general election matchup (presumably against S.C. Senator Vincent Sheheen).  Not only would it dramatically reduce the likelihood of her facing a well-funded primary opponent, it would also materially improve her precarious general election footing.