DEMOCRATS TO TAKE ANOTHER RUN AT RISING GOP STAR
S.C. Rep. Kirkman Finlay – who occupies one of the rare “swing districts” in the South Carolina House of Representatives – has drawn a primary challenger for this fall’s general election.
That’s not surprising. Democrats have been trying to defeat Finlay ever since he won this seat in 2012 by defeating trial lawyer Joe McCulloch – who mounted a second unsuccessful bid to oust the second-term lawmaker in a 2014 rematch.
Not only do Democrats view S.C. House District 75 (map here) as poachable, they see Finlay as a likely statewide contender in 2018 – and beyond. Not to mention Finlay has become an increasingly vocal legislative reformer – one who is quickly advancing in the ranks of the S.C. House.
“They know his stock is rising,” one GOP lawmaker told us.
That makes him an even more inviting target …
Accordingly, influential Democratic leaders – including former S.C. Democratic Party (SCDP) chairman Dick Harpootlian – have been working hard trying to find a candidate capable of defeating him.
Their latest recruit? Tyler Gregg …
A.k.a. this guy …
Ummm … okay.
Finlay was in the headlines last week when S.C. governor Nikki Haley blasted him for his efforts to investigate a recent riot at the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice (SCDJJ).
Haley was obviously intending to hurt Finlay, but her broadside probably doesn’t help Gregg’s candidacy.
“The problem for the Democrats here is that you can’t brand Finlay as a tool of the party,” one Richland County, S.C. political consultant told us. “He has a mile-wide independent streak and is unafraid to take on leaders in his own party.”
Finlay, a successful businessman, is also capable of self-funding his own campaign – which should also continue to work to his advantage.
Finlay won 53.5 percent of the vote to McCulloch’s 46.4 percent in 2014.
Can Gregg, a Columbia, S.C. attorney, improve on that showing? We shall see …