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Even when he was steering her into the upstairs bedroom of his downtown Columbia, S.C. townhouse, our founding editor never steered Nikki Haley wrong.

(Ba doom … ching).

For real, though. In less than a year’s time Will Folks (a.k.a. Sic Willie) turned an unknown, skittish state lawmaker into a limited government heroine and a legitimate statewide contender – as well as the undisputed, (then-)uncompromising leader of South Carolina’s reform movement (thanks in no small measure to sage advice like this).

Sic’s successor in the role of “Haley Svengali?” He’s been much less effective …

After the Memorial Day weekend fiasco involving the governor’s white supremacist campaign committeeman, it’s becoming abundantly clear what Haley’s biggest political liability is: Her “closet” advisor, Tim Pearson.

Let’s recap Pearson’s record, shall we?

After entering the 2010 gubernatorial election with a whopping 21-point lead over Democrat Vincent Sheheen, Pearson bumbled, stumbled and fumbled Team Haley to a thoroughly uninspiring four-point victory. In fact were it not for a surge of GOP straight ticket voters (a.k.a. the year of the “Tea Party”), Haley would have lost to Sheheen.

Having done his best to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on the campaign trail, Pearson next assumed the role of Haley’s chief of staff in January 2011  – a disastrous twenty-month reign which resulted in Haley’s approval ratings literally falling off the map.

(If you wanna read more, here’s an exclusive insider report we filed during Pearson’s reign of incompetence).

Since Pearson’s departure, Haley’s new chief of staff Bryan Stirling has dramatically reduced her administration’s unforced errors – temporarily righting this sinking ship.

But now that attention is shifting away from Haley’s less-than-impressive record of governance and back onto politics (in anticipation of the 2014 gubernatorial election) – Pearson is once again taking center stage.

How’s “Timmy Time” doing?

Terribly … as usual. In fact as he’s done throughout his tenure, he’s turning what should have been minor, forgettable stories into much bigger problems for Haley. Like the whole white supremacist scandal that unspooled last weekend.

Seven days ago, this website exclusively obtained a Democratic memo documenting the “pure race” views held by one of Haley’s reelection steering committee chairmen. Within days, this revelation had become a minor scandal for Haley – with leading Democrats calling on her to remove this white supremacist from her committee.

Enter “Timmy Time …”

In a combative interview with The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper, Pearson not only refused to get rid of the man but he offered up this doozy of a quote:

The IRS thinks conservatives should be targeted for abuse, but Governor Haley does not.

Wait … huh?

Again … in what universe is white supremacy compatible with “conservative” ideology? And more to the point, in what universe is Nikki Haley a “conservative?”

Pearson’s brain dead, reactionary response fueled this otherwise forgettable story – forcing Haley’s campaign to eventually overrule him and get rid of the white supremacist (a.k.a. something it should have done immediately).

What’s driving this idiocy? Well, we know Pearson’s personal life is also a mess right now … with all sorts of rumors swirling about the root cause of his impending divorce. But it’s not like he was much of a strategist before that … with his only real experience prior to Haley coming as a member of the speechwriting staff of former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum.

Still, even if she wanted to (and there’s been no indication she wants to) Haley can’t fire Pearson. After all he played a central role in covering up at least one of her affairs – although to his credit he did express regret over the scorched earth strategy that Haley (successfully) employed in response to that scandal.

One thing is clear, though … with Pearson calling the shots, Haley’s reelection bid will continue misfiring.

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