CAN THEY AIM, THOUGH?
Depending on what poll you’re looking at, roughly half of “Republican” primary voters in South Carolina believe governor Nikki Haley and the S.C. General Assembly made the wrong decision in removing the Confederate flag from the grounds of the S.C. State House this summer.
Oh, and the intensity of those flag supporters burns much brighter and hotter than flag opponents … especially when you get into the conservative Upstate region of the Palmetto State.
It is the definitive wedge issue … and legislators are expecting it to claim multiple incumbents during the 2016 election cycle.
But will it?
As we reported exclusively during the acrimonious debate over the flag, neo-Confederate (a.k.a. Southern Heritage) groups in South Carolina are badly splintered. In fact they are literally at each other’s throats.
According to our sources, more dissension is coming … including some pretty seismic allegations over money connected to an infamous 2012 Ponzi scam.
Stay tuned for more on that …
In the meantime, the Confederate movement in South Carolina – such as it is – is looking for ways to take advantage of GOP backlash over the flag. Their immediate objective is two-fold: Cause Haley harm on the national stage while picking up legislative seats as a result of GOP opposition to the controversial banner.
Their long-term goal? To force a statewide referendum which – if successful – would return the flag to the grounds of the S.C. State House.
Unfortunately for “heritage” backers (but fortunately for the elected officials they’re targeting), the optimum method of achieving these objectives continues to be the subject of intense internal bickering within the movement.
On the one side are veterans of the “Heritage” movement who believe they can still run the 1998 playbook that helped bring down former S.C. governor David Beasley – a Democrat-turned-Republican who famously said that God came to him in a dream and told him to take the flag off of the dome of the State House.
Anyway, these old school Confederates want to engage outdated communications strategies like public pro-flag rallies and the use of “Dump Haley, Keep The Flag” airplane banners at sporting events.
On the other side are a new generation of flag backers – those who recognize the need for the movement to evolve if it hopes to capitalize on the current political climate. These “Heritage” advocates want to run a more modern, sophisticated campaign – one employing slick, well-produced web videos targeting Haley.
They also want to dramatically upgrade the movement’s political and communications capabilities.
Another internal debate? Whether to go after Haley at all.
Unlike Beasley in 1998, Haley is in her second term – meaning it’s unlikely she’ll stand for statewide election again anytime soon. And while attacking her on the national level would certainly provide a nice measure of “payback” for her position on the flag, Haley’s national aspirations remain very much up in the air.
Specifically, the vetting concerns which dogged her prior to the Confederate flag controversy haven’t gone anywhere …
Given that reality, many in the movement are urging resources to be appropriated against the most vulnerable legislative targets – not against Haley.
Then there’s the issue of who gets credit in the event any of these arrows find their marks ….
The “old school” Confederate flag backers want the movement to remain independent of other groups that may also have an interest in taking out certain lawmakers – keeping the flag fight “pure” and the outcomes indisputably linked to the banner. Another faction supports the idea of “cross-pollination,” i.e. flag backers allying (and possibly pooling resources) with other organizations who have specific beefs with individual lawmakers – thus maximizing the likelihood of successfully ousting incumbents.
At the moment, it appears the “old school” perspective is winning out … which should frankly cause anyone “targeted” by the Confederate movement to breath a sigh of relief.
Anyway, we’ll keep track on these developments over the coming weeks and months as they will obviously play a role in the upcoming elections.
How big a role? That remains to be seen …