DESPERATE TIMES CALL FOR DESPERATE MEASURES …
We’ve written twice now in relation to this week’s upcoming partisan primary elections for seats in the S.C. General Assembly. You can read those posts here and here, but the long and short of it is that very little is likely to change in the Palmetto State based on the outcome of these races.
Such is the sad state of the “reform” movement in South Carolina.
Anyway, one political rivalry running through the current election cycle was discussed over the weekend by reporter Andy Shain writing for The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier. In his story, Shain noted how establishment “Republican” governor Nikki Haley was campaigning on behalf of several candidates challenging powerful (and mostly liberal) incumbent GOP State Senators. Meanwhile lieutenant governor Henry McMaster was campaigning in support of these incumbents.
His premise? That McMaster and Haley had become “political rivals.”
That’s funny. Haley and McMaster have actually been political rivals for some time now – ever since the latter defeated the former’s hand-picked choice for lieutenant governor in 2014. In fact this rift had already turned into a mile-wide chasm long before the 2016 “endorsement season” began.
So … what makes Shain’s “old news” story worth writing about?
A couple things …
First, the article includes glowing (albeit totally inaccurate) quotes on McMaster’s behalf courtesy of veteran neo-Confederate political consultant Richard Quinn.
According to Quinn, it was McMaster who was responsible for getting Haley elected governor in 2010.
“He spent two weeks making her acceptable to the Republican establishment,” Quinn told Shain. “You could say that the governor couldn’t have been elected without Henry.”
Wait … what?
“You could say that the governor couldn’t have been elected without Henry?”
Sure, you could say that … but you’d be a damned fool.
In the 2010 “Republican” gubernatorial primary, Haley won 48.9 percent of the vote – nearly three times the level of support garnered by McMaster. She nearly won her party’s nomination on the first ballot – and was poised to trounce former U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett in the ensuing GOP runoff election no matter what McMaster decided to do.
McMaster’s Johnny-come-lately endorsement had nothing to do with helping Haley – who pummeled Barrett by a 65-35 percent margin in the runoff.
It was all about helping himself – picking the candidate who was going to win the race anyway in an effort to gain a seat at the table for Quinn and his cronies.
Astoundingly, Quinn wants to reinvent this moment of naked political calculation – which had an absolutely negligible impact on the outcome of the race – as some sort of advertisement for McMaster and the influence he supposedly wields.
It’s ridiculous. Dishonest. And kind of pathetic, honestly.
Now … why would he tell such an obvious, easily-debunkable lie?
At the beginning of the year, Quinn was riding high – looking forward to managing the 2018 gubernatorial destiny of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson – arguably the candidate to beat in the race to follow Haley as governor.
A lot has happened since then, though.
First, Quinn’s impotence has been badly exposed via the failed presidential bids of U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and, later, former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
Quinn’s political empire is crumbling. His power – while still vast – is under siege.
So he’s scrambling, seeking to rewrite the state’s political history as part of a transparent effort to fluff up a candidate to replace the one he deflated – then discarded.
Aspiring Palmetto politicians should take note. When it comes to consultant kingpins like Quinn, elected officials are expendable – useful only as pawns in preserving his empire’s access to big-dollar state contracts.
In fact our guess is it’s only a matter of time before the 69-year-old McMaster outlives his usefulness to Quinn – at which point the Palmetto State’s political history will once again be rewritten as Quinn deems necessary.