A NEW PALMETTO POLITICAL LANDSCAPE …
Apparently there’s a new name to add to the list of those mulling a bid for governor of South Carolina in 2018 …
Who are we referring to? Real estate developer and longtime S.C. State Ports Authority (SCSPA) board member Bill Stern.
The 59-year-old Midlands-area multi-millionaire – who recently shocked political insiders by dissing the “Republican” establishment and supporting the insurgent presidential bid of GOP frontrunner Donald Trump – told Andrew Shain of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper this week that he’s considering a Trump-style candidacy.
Stern previously supported status quo GOP candidates like George W. Bush, John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
Now? Not so much.
“We have to answer to the shareholders,” Stern told Shain. “There’s lot of fraud, waste and abuse going on. All agencies need to be looked at from top to bottom. You need to hold the people in charge of those agencies accountable. We need to see results. That’s what the people want. They’re thirsty for that.”
Hold up … six years of S.C. governor Nikki Haley hasn’t turned things around?
Um, no. Not even a little bit.
Things are terrible in the Palmetto State … in no small part to a dysfunctional, increasingly costly government … and with the possibility of another recession lurking, they could quickly go from bad to worse for dirt poor, under-employed South Carolina residents.
Is Stern serious about running in such a climate? He certainly seems to be … in fact he claimed he would self-fund his candidacy (Trump-style) to the tune of $4-6 million.
Our guess? Stern probably won’t jump in …
“I think he will ultimately chose to be rich and anonymous,” another 2018 gubernatorial prospect told us. “(There’s) too much scrutiny whether fair or unfair that will jeopardize his government dealings. It will impact him financially and personally.”
“It isn’t that he can’t handle it, I just think he will chose not to,” the source added.
Still, there’s something to be said for a consummate insider continuing to wave the Trump banner – insisting on reform and decrying the poor performance of the status quo (Haley, ironically, was an outsider who became the poster girl for the “Republican” establishment).
Clearly things have changed … in our country and in South Carolina.
Once seen as a prerequisite to climb the political ladder, prior experience in elected office is increasingly seen as an anchor around a candidate’s neck – a sign of their subservience as opposed to their service.
Say what you will about him (and we’ve said plenty) but Stern knows that – and has the money to exploit it if he chooses.
Stern’s flirtation with a gubernatorial bid is also noteworthy given his proximity to the political empire of neo-Confederate consultant Richard Quinn. In fact Quinn, interviewed by Shain, refused to rule out whether he would provide Stern with his counsel – a clear signal that the veteran “Republican” strategist has abandoned any hope of getting scandal-scarred S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson elected governor.
Which is smart … because Wilson will be lucky to hang onto his current job.
As we continue to track the “ins” and “outs” of the looming 2018 election, the ongoing fall of Wilson and the surprising emergence of Stern is an interesting development indeed. As are the gravitational forces tugging at both would-be candidates …
This is certainly shaping up to be an interesting, unexpected race …