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Libertarians Target Tom Davis For SC Governor

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STATE SENATOR COULD SHAKE UP 2018 RACE

One of the leading early candidates for the “Republican” gubernatorial nomination in South Carolina might wind up running on another ticket.

S.C. Senator Tom Davis – who single-handedly shut down efforts to raise the Palmetto State’s gasoline tax this year (and last year) – is reportedly being approached by leaders of the resurgent Libertarian Party in the hopes that he might consider running for governor on their ticket in 2018.

Sources close to the second-term lawmaker say he is “seriously considering” the overtures.

“It would be a nonstarter in terms of winning but it would be fun ripping everything to the ground,” one of Davis’ supporters told us.  “It would raise holy hell.”

As for Davis – who is running unopposed for his third term in the State Senate – he declined to wade into the partisan discussion.

“I don’t really care about labels,” he said.  “I push laws that expand freedom and free markets – and I try to kill laws that attack freedom and free markets.  Whatever that makes me, I guess that’s what I am.  As long as I’m getting the policy right, they can call me whatever they want to.”

But will he run for governor?  And if he does, what letter would be behind his name? 

“I am still holding out hope that the GOP can truly be the party that champions individual liberty and limited government,” he said.

This website has consistently praised Davis for his advocacy on the fiscal front.  He’s also been a leader on several other high-profile issues that matter to us – including parental choice and the long-overdue push to decriminalize medical marijuana.

Beyond that, he’s pushed for civil justice reform and has sought to make inroads on the state’s government-run gambling monopoly by allowing social games of poker.

Additionally, he’s slammed the state’s failed crony capitalist approach to “economic development” – arguing instead for broad-based tax relief.

Conventional political wisdom dictates that libertarians would steal more votes from “Republican” candidates, but Davis has taken numerous positions that could wind up cutting deeply into traditionally Democratic constituencies in a general election.

If he decided to take the third party plunge, our sources say Davis would be well-supported financially.  Beyond his own ability to raise money (over the last decade, only former Speaker Bobby Harrell and Senate president Hugh Leatherman have out-raised him) – Davis would benefit from the national movement of former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, whose 2012 presidential bid he supported.

The 2018 “Republican” gubernatorial primary is likely to be a crowded affair.

Former Democratic lieutenant governor Yancey McGill has already announced he’s running as a “Republican,” and S.C. Rep. Tommy Pope – a former prosecutor from the southern suburbs of Charlotte, N.C. has declared himself as a candidate.  Others mulling bids?  U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, S.C. lieutenant governor Henry McMaster, S.C. Rep. Kirkman Finlay, U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney and former S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) director Catherine Templeton.

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