SHARE

A pair of establishment “Republicans” are headed to a runoff election in South Carolina’s lieutenant governor’s race … although the precise matchup was uncertain the day after the votes were counted.

Former Attorney General and SCGOP chairman Henry McMaster led the field of four candidates with 43.7 percent of the vote – earning a spot in the “Republican” runoff election on June 24. His opponent? That remains to be seen.

The initial vote count showed Nikki Haley acolyte Pat McKinney –  a wealthy Lowcountry developer – receiving 24.1 percent of the vote. That total would put him just ahead of Mike Campbell – son of legendary GOP governor Carroll Campbell, Jr. – who earned 23.7 percent of the vote.

Because McKinney and Campbell are separated by less than one percentage point, an automatic recount will be conducted by the S.C. Election Commission.

If the runoff winds up being one establishment “Mac” versus another, incumbent GOP governor Nikki Haley will find herself in an interesting predicament. On the one hand she actively recruited McKinney to run for the office and is grooming him to succeed her. Moreover her inside-the-Beltway political consultant – Jon Lerner – was McKinney’s top strategist.

However McMaster provided Haley with a critical endorsement in her successful 2010 runoff election against former S.C. Rep. Gresham Barrett and has been tremendously supportive of her through all of her administration’s many missteps.

Anyway … whoever emerges victorious will do battle in November against centrist Democrat Bakari Sellers – a four-term state lawmaker who has staked out some surprisingly conservative ground on tax and spending issues.

Should make for an interesting election come November …