CANDIDATE STAYING MUM ON CRITICAL FISCAL ISSUE … FOR NOW
When it comes to South Carolina politics, GOP gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton is the definition of a blank slate.
Sure, political insiders know exactly who she is (including her strengths as a candidate) – and they have some sense of the sort of chief executive she would be if elected. But to most South Carolina voters, Templeton is a totally unknown commodity.
That won’t be the case for much longer, though …
Templeton had a killer initial fundraising quarter – and if she’s able to sustain that fundraising momentum she should have no trouble whatsoever blanketing the Palmetto State with television ads and online media buys introducing herself to the state’s electorate.
Meanwhile her main opponent in next spring’s “Republican” gubernatorial primary – governor Henry McMaster – came in below expectations on the fundraising side. Also, McMaster continues to deal with the fallout from an ongoing criminal investigation that appears to have drawn a bead on his longtime political advisor, Richard Quinn.
That latter story is beginning to fill in McMaster’s own “blank slate.”
In other words there could be a very competitive 2018 GOP primary election looming on the horizon – and that’s assuming other candidates don’t jump into the race (we’ve heard of several who are seriously considering it).
Of course as Templeton – the “right gov” according to her website – emerges as one of the top viable alternatives to McMaster, she also must begin to define herself ideologically and in terms of specific policy items. And when unknown candidates start becoming defined, they begin to attract – and shed – support.
One huge issue Templeton will eventually have to address? A proposed gas tax increase that’s inching ever closer to becoming law.
Where is Templeton on this issue? It’s not immediately clear … and a recent answer she provided to a group of Lowcountry residents raised more questions than answers.[timed-content-server show=”2017-Apr-24 00:00:00 -0000″ hide=”2016-May-16 19:00:00 -0000″]
“The gas tax,” Templeton told the group with a “mock gasp,” according to reporter Charlie Morrison of The Daniel Island News.
“Everyone wants to know where I am on the gas tax,” she said. “I’m not going to tell you where I am on the gas tax issue but let me ask you this, if I told you that you could get home faster, it would be safer and your car would not be as banged up as much as it is now, and you can stop paying the $1,000 that you’re paying right now and just pay $50, what would you say?”
“But if you say the word ‘tax,’ you can’t get elected,” she continued. “So, it’s all politics… it’s all politics and I’ve had enough of it.”
Hmmmm … good luck parsing those words.
Templeton did offer some encouraging remarks on how she would approach the state’s spending debate – which has devolved into an annual exercise of throwing more money at increasingly worsening outcomes (see here, here, here and here).
“We send our money up there and they’re supposed to give us certain things,” Templeton said. “Right now, in Columbia they are not because everyone is afraid to call balls and strikes. Everyone is afraid to do the math. Everyone is afraid to make a decision that’s unpopular. If you do math and call balls and strikes in government, it’s brave … or naive.”
That’s true …
The question is this: What does Templeton intend to do about it?
For his part, McMaster has vowed to veto a gas tax increase – although on the same day he issued his veto threat he proposed borrowing more than a billion dollars for South Carolina roads and bridges. McMaster has also asked Washington, D.C. for a massive infrastructure bailout – and just last month he put South Carolina taxpayers on the hook to the tune of $826 million a year for a pension fund bailout.
Not good …
Bottom line? Dollars and cents add up … and we’ll be watching the 2018 gubernatorial candidates very closely to see how their proposals stack up. As we’ve said previously, there are really only three questions a voter needs to ask a candidate for elected office (at any level): 1) How much of the people’s money are you spending? 2) What are you going to spend it on? and perhaps most importantly, 3) Where are you going to get it from?
Those are the three questions this website will continue to focus on as the 2018 race heats up.
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