“REPUBLICAN” ESTABLISHMENT IN TURMOIL …
South Carolina lieutenant governor Henry McMaster‘s surprise endorsement of GOP frontrunner Donald Trump in the Palmetto State’s “First in the South” presidential primary is noteworthy for a number of reasons.
First, the veteran “Republican” is as establishment as you can get in South Carolina … the very definition of the old guard GOP.
His decision to embrace Trump’s candidacy comes just as the rest of the “old guard” in the Palmetto State – including those affiliated with McMaster’s longtime neo-Confederate consultant, Richard Quinn – were preparing to mount a Stalingrad-esque stand against “The Donald.”
But McMaster’s endorsement of Trump has implications well beyond 2016’s Palmetto presidential power struggle …
In fact, the real impact of this “open rebellion” (to quote one pro-establishment operative) is likely to be felt on the 2018 South Carolina gubernatorial race.
McMaster’s decision to buck the “Republican” status quo is an explicit rebuke of Quinn – who has managed the lieutenant governor’s political destiny for years. It’s a clear signal that McMaster – technically the No. 2 statewide elected official – has designs on the governor’s office in 2018.
Why is this important?
Well, Quinn and his political empire have already settled on S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson as their gubernatorial candidate of choice for 2018. In fact Quinn participated in a strategy discussion over the recent holiday break in which Wilson laid out his forthcoming gubernatorial campaign with wealthy Columbia, S.C. businessman Bill Stern and S.C. Manufacturers Alliance president Lewis Gossett.
Not only that, there was apparently no room for McMaster on a Wilson “ticket” – as sources tell us the attorney general has already offered that spot to another “younger” politician.
(South Carolina gubernatorial candidates will run on a “ticket” with their lieutenant gubernatorial choices for the first time in 2018).
McMaster got double-dissed, in other words …
Curiously, Quinn and his empire decided to double down on Wilson’s 2018 bid at a time when the attorney general was drawing heavy fire for his habitual failure to crack down on public corruption. Not only that, it appears painfully obvious at this point Wilson has only pushed to prosecute public corruption in cases which created outcomes benefitting Quinn clients.
Which would make him more corrupt than any of the people he’s prosecuted …
Obviously these two former political allies are by no means the only candidates to consider as speculation surrounding the next election cycle intensifies.
The 2018 field is expected to be huge … and diverse.
S.C. Senator Tom Davis, U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, S.C. Rep. Kirkman Finlay, U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, S.C. Rep. Tommy Pope, U.S. Senator Tim Scott, Charleston, S.C. attorney Catherine Templeton have all indicated varying degrees of interest in becoming the Palmetto State’s next chief executive – and others are expected to signal their interest in the months to come.
Meanwhile Orangeburg, S.C. businessman Mikee Johnson is also said to be eying a bid – touting his proximity to current S.C. governor Nikki Haley. And let’s not forget the perpetual rumors about former S.C. governor Mark Sanford – who still has a million dollars in his statewide account.
Make no mistake, though: The McMaster endorsement of Trump is a major development in the shaping of the forthcoming field – one that appears to have caught the Quinn forces completely flat-footed.