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MEET THE S.C. LIBERTARIAN PARTY’S GUBERNATORIAL NOMINEE

As we exclusively reported a few weeks back, the South Carolina Libertarian party will field a candidate in the 2014 gubernatorial election – the first time that’s happened since 1998.

His name? Steve French – a Lowcountry small businessman who has a compelling personal narrative, a gorgeous wife (and new baby) and the looks and charisma you’d typically associate with an upwardly mobile young “Republican.”

Fortunately for South Carolina taxpayers, though, French is no “Republican.” Obviously he’s for less government and more individual liberty (hence the big “L” you’ll see by his name on the ballot) – but unlike GOP candidates he’s willing to put substantive policy behind those rhetorical points.

Like so many next generation politicos, French has also figured out there is no longer a home for true limited government, pro-free market, pro-freedom views in the Grand Ol’ Plutocracy.

Just ask them … 

The 33-year-old business owner – who runs an environmentally friendly grease cleaning company in Charleston, S.C. – has the potential to be the GOP’s worst nightmare. If he can tap into the growing nexus of fiscally conservative, socially libertarian voters – all the while hammering away at the rampant corruption of both parties in Columbia – he could cause incumbent “Republican” Nikki Haley some real problems.

French says he’s running for governor because Columbia, S.C. represents the “ultimate clean-up job.”

“And cleaning up messes is what I do for a living,” he says.

He’s also talking about raising up to half a million dollars for his bid – which would make him a genuine threat to Haley’s all-but-assured reelection. Not only that, several top fiscally conservative policy makers at the state level tell FITS French has been in touch with them – bouncing his policy ideas off of them.

In other words French’s bid has all the makings of a serious candidacy …

Haley ran as a Tea Party Republican, but veered wildly toward the status quo after receiving the GOP nomination in 2010. Things have only gotten worse since then. In fact on taxesspendingeducation and (most notably) government-subsidized health care, she’s governed like a Democrat – a pattern that has accelerated in recent years due to the lack of a pro-free market challenger on her ideological right flank.

Can French exploit Haley’s vulnerabilities?

That remains to be seen … but his mere appearance on the ballot is likely to deprive Haley of at least 1.5 percent of the vote.

In addition to French, former S.C. Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer is reportedly still contemplating a third party bid of his own – also eyeing Haley’s vulnerable right flank. A mystery “Confederate candidate” is also eyeing the race …

Stay tuned … at this point the 2014 race is still Haley’s to lose (especially given the abysmal campaign being run by her Democratic opponent, Vincent Sheheen), but the emergence of a potentially credible voices to her ideological right is something she can ill afford to take lightly.

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