At every turn thus far, South Carolina governor Henry McMaster has been caught flat-footed in the 2018 Palmetto State governor’s race.
The 70-year-old establishment “Republican” – tainted by his proximity to an ongoing multi-jurisdictional investigation into corruption in state government – has seen what should have been a guaranteed reelection victory become a battle for his political life.
Newcomer Catherine Templeton – an attorney from the Palmetto State’s Lowcountry – has effectively matched McMaster in fundraising and shown she can go toe-to-toe with the career politician on the campaign trail. No wonder South Carolina Democrats are training their fire on her, not McMaster.
They know a winner when they see one …
There are also growing concerns about McMaster’s health, which have only further complicated his candidacy.
McMaster’s saving grace? Donald Trump, whose populist presidential candidacy he endorsed just prior to the Palmetto State’s “First in the South” presidential primary last February.
Trump’s appointment of former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley to serve as his ambassador to the United Nations back in January was the payback – paving the way for McMaster to become governor of the Palmetto State seven months ago.
Now McMaster is having to play his “Trump card” once again to keep his foundering campaign above water.
As we reported last week, Trump is planning on visiting the Palmetto State this fall to campaign for McMaster and raise money for his struggling gubernatorial bid. His trip is tentatively scheduled for sometime during the month of October, sources familiar with the situation told us this week.
While that visit should leave McMaster with a healthy infusion of financial support, sources tell us his campaign is aggressively courting money from #NeverTrumpers, too.
Specifically, McMaster’s campaign is using Washington, D.C.-based fundraiser Caroline Wren to solicit contributions from a host of Beltway insider interests.
“Basically she beats up political action committees and establishment companies for cash,” one source familiar with Wren’s modus operandi told us.
Is she good at it? Yes … very.
Wren was the chief fundraiser for liberal “Republican” U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham in 2014 – the year his $13.8 million mountain of money kept most credible GOP opponents on the sidelines at a time when he was exceedingly vulnerable politically.
Can Wren duplicate that level of success for McMaster? It’s doubtful … but if she helps him raise even half that amount of money by the time the 2018 election hits its homestretch we would call that a job well-done.
In addition to McMaster and Templeton, current S.C. lieutenant governor Kevin Bryant of Anderson has announced his candidacy – as has former lieutenant governor Yancey McGill of Kingstree. Meanwhile Tom Davis – a fiscally conservative, libertarian leaning State Senator – is expected to jump into the race soon.
McGill has struggled to raise money thus far, while Bryant and Davis have yet to show their level of fundraising capability.
No Democrats have formally announced their candidacies at this point, but a few are finally starting to take steps in that direction.
Stay tuned … the all-important money race for this seat appears to be heating up.
WANNA SOUND OFF?
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