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#SC2018: Catherine Templeton Is Taking Punches




In most political races, unknown challengers are the ones throwing punches at well-known incumbents …

Not in the 2018 South Carolina governor’s race …

Ever since she posted her second consecutive $700,000-plus quarterly fundraising haul last week, political newcomer Catherine Templeton has been on the receiving end of some punches from incumbent Palmetto State governor Henry McMaster.

The latest jab?  A story in The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier detailing previously undisclosed government contracts received by the 46-year-old attorney after leaving her job as director of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC).

According to reporter Andy Shain, Templeton received a five-month consulting gig with her old agency after she stepped down in January 2015.  The pay?  $17,300 per month.  She also had a no-bid deal with the S.C. Department of Revenue (SCDOR) worth $12,500 per month.

Is this a major scandal?  No, not really … the contracts probably should have bene disclosed, but they pale in comparison to the sweet government-subsidized gigs McMaster and his cronies have landed in recent years.

For example, consider the hundreds of thousands of dollars McMaster and his longtime chief of staff Trey Walker made off of taxpayers via this shady deal with the University of South Carolina law school.

Of course a career politician being a hypocrite isn’t the real story here (that happens every day in South Carolina) … it’s the fact he feels it is necessary.

Especially this early on in a campaign …

And especially in a campaign that was supposed to be his coronation …

(Click to view)

(Via: S.C. Governor’s Office)

McMaster’s leaks against Templeton say far more about his campaign than they do about hers – namely that he (or at least his advisors) are frightened by the momentum she’s managed to obtain and feel the need to knock her down a peg or two.

Will their strategy succeed?  Possibly … Templeton is running as an outsider, and splashy headlines breathlessly detailing so-called “insider deals” probably won’t help burnish that image.

But the 70-year-old politician also looks like a hypocrite for making the allegation.  And even worse, he looks desperate.

As much as we’d love to keep writing about an intensifying head-to-head battle between these two candidates, it’s looking increasingly as though the race for the 2018 “Republican” gubernatorial nomination will welcome some additional faces within the next few weeks.

First, current S.C. lieutenant governor Kevin Bryant is on the verge of announcing his intentions, while fiscally conservative State Senator Tom Davis is also sending signals that he might jump into the race.  Both of those prospective candidates would likely run credible, well-funded campaigns – and campaign on issues likely to resonate with GOP primary voters.

Also former lieutenant governor Yancey McGill remains in the mix, hoping his aggressive grassroots campaigning will make up for his early lack of fundraising success.

Bottom line?  Six months ago this race was McMaster’s to lose.  Now, his proximity to an ongoing public corruption scandal involving his longtime political consultant, Richard Quinn, has fundamentally altered the calculus of the race – empowering those challenging him and forcing him into attack mode against them.

McMaster is still the frontrunner – and should still have a nice “Trump card” to play as the race moves forward – but it’s become increasingly clear the coronation he and his allies were expecting will instead be a knockdown, drag-out political slugfest.



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