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#SC2018: Dems Target Catherine Templeton

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CHALLENGER TAKING FIRE …

It’s official: Charleston, South Carolina attorney Catherine Templeton has crashed the 2018 GOP governor’s race in the Palmetto State.

In a big way …

And the “Cinderella candidate” appears to be just getting warmed up as she seeks to pull off a political upset the likes of which the Palmetto State has never seen.

Not only have Templeton’s initial fundraising totals shattered expectations, but early efforts by incumbent “Republican” governor Henry McMaster to attack her have backfired … arguably doing more damage to his campaign than to hers.

For now, anyway …

We’ve had a few readers take note of the growing (and disproportionately positive) coverage this website has given Templeton in recent weeks.

Our response to that?  She’s earned it …

How on earth could we not write positively about a candidate who came completely out of nowhere (unless you are a longtime FITS reader) and fundamentally altered the calculus of this race?

All in a matter of months?

Seriously, people … this is happening.  McMaster is in serious trouble, and everyone (including his Democratic allies) know it.

Of course momentum in politics is a fickle mistress.  And while Templeton has made for excellent copy these last few weeks on the political stage, she remains a blank slate when it comes to matters of policy and ideology.  Not only that, however she fills that slate we’re not sure she’ll ever be able to match the record of taxpayer hero Tom Davis – a third-term fiscally conservative, socially libertarian State Senator who is likely to enter the fray later this year.

Davis has set a very high bar when it comes to bread-and-butter taxpayer issues.  From our vantage point, it would be difficult to impossible for Templeton to clear it.

That’s why this website has preemptively endorsed Davis’ candidacy in the event he decides to run.

Moreover, as much as Templeton has turned heads inside the state’s political bubble, she remains generally unknown beyond it.  Which means all the money she’s raised will have to go toward defining and defending herself.

McMaster?  He only has to play defense …

Oh, and let’s not forget the “Trump card” McMaster allies insist he will be able to play in this race.  That could be worth upwards of $2 million to McMaster’s war chest – in one fell swoop.  Not to mention a potential surge of voters.

(Click to view)

(Via: @RealDonaldTrump)

So let’s all take a moment and not get too carried away too fast …

Having said all of that, there is a dynamic beginning to emerge in this race that strikes us as extremely interesting … and extremely promising for Templeton.  We’re referring to increasingly unconcealed efforts by the state’s liberal political establishment to draw a bead on the GOP challenger – not the party’s presumed standard-bearer.

Late Friday, Lowcountry liberal Andy Brack released his newest edition of the S.C. Statehouse Report – which monitors Palmetto politics from a decidedly “progressive” perspective.  Included in Brack’s collection of clips was a write-up on the 2018 GOP gubernatorial race.

Here were some of Brack’s observations on McMaster …

McMaster, while not brimming with strength, has buckets of name recognition earned from three decades in state politics, including eight years as attorney general, eight years as head of the state GOP, and statewide campaigns for U.S. Senate, lieutenant governor and governor …

…McMaster was the first statewide official in the county to endorse Trump during the presidential campaign.  McMaster legitimately has a big chit – maybe a few – with the president.  It will be hard to out-Trump the sitting governor.

By contrast, here is how Brack described the “neophyte” Templeton …

Templeton has charmed her way into the pockets of some business-oriented Republicans – the Chamber of Commerce types who find her non-experience to be a breath of fresh air, just like the non-experience of Mark Sanford and Haley were thought to be refreshing.  And we know how that worked out:  The state’s legislative and executive branches, despite being Republican, constantly clashed.

Templeton is more flash than substance.  Yes, she led two state agencies, but how hard is it to pound lecterns against unions as head of the state Labor department in the state with the lowest unionization rate in the country?  Then at the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, she flubbed aid in a tuberculosis outbreak and later used the agency’s staff, at Haley’s beckoning, to try to shut down abortion clinics, a baldly overreaching political move by a supposedly impartial agency.

Then when she left the agency, Templeton negotiated a sweetheart $17,300-per-month consulting contract to keep doing work before later landing a job at the State Ports Authority.  She left after just five weeks. Months later while building a profile as an anti-corruption candidate, she said she was let go after questioning payments to a consultant now mired in an ethics probe.  But the head of the ports agency this week castigated Templeton in a no-holds-barred email by saying she lied about why she left the agency as an “election campaign ploy.”  She was not, he said, a victim nor was she fired for being a whistle-blower.

Brutal, huh?

Not to be outdone, Brack’s fellow leftists at Progress South Carolina blasted out an email early Saturday making it clear which candidate they believe to be the biggest threat in the GOP field.

Care to wager a guess?  That’s right, ’twas Templeton …

From that hit …

Last week we found out that Catherine Templeton gave herself a nice little going away gift of $86,500 in taxpayer money when she left the Department of Health and Environmental Control …

We demand that Catherine Templeton return the $86,500 that she gave herself before she left office.

Templeton wants to be our governor, but her self-dealing raises questions about her fitness for office. If she returns the money she gave herself, it will show that she is serious about trying to restore her trustworthiness.

Again, brutal …

Incoming arrows like this against a candidate like Templeton are unheard of – especially at this early stage of the race.  There’s simply no way a relatively unknown challenger going up against a sitting governor should be taking this sort of incoming fire in a primary election that was viewed – as recently as three months ago – as a McMaster coronation.

Also don’t ignore the timing of these missives … which reeks of coordination.

Bottom line?  Democrats lack their own candidate in the 2018 governor’s race.  And even if they manage to get one, that candidate is unlikely to mount anything resembling a credible campaign against the eventual GOP nominee.

Well, unless …

In lieu of promoting their own candidate, South Carolina liberals seem content to deal with “wink and nod McMaster.”  Which is why they are now telegraphing their fear over the deep trouble in which his campaign currently finds itself.

As for Templeton?  We believe she should wear these incoming attacks from the far left as badges of honor, portraying them to GOP voters as empirical evidence that she – not McMaster – is the candidate the Democrats fear most in a general election.

Because at this point, that appears to be the case …

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