South Carolina governor Henry McMaster’s overt appeal to social conservatives on the issue of abortion is paying political dividends.
McMaster – whose 2018 reelection campaign has been an unmitigated disaster thus far – took a page out of U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham’s book last month by touting his pro-life credentials to evangelical voters. Specifically, McMaster issued an executive order directing state agencies to “cease providing state or local funds, whether via grant, contract, state-administered federal funds, or any other form” to abortion providers.
McMaster’s move “sought to boost his status among social conservative voters,” as we noted at the time. It also sought to siphon support away from S.C. lieutenant governor Kevin Bryant, a devout social conservative who hails from the Palmetto Upstate – an area rich with evangelical voters.
So … is McMaster’s play working?
Yes … so far, anyway.
This week Palmetto Family, one of the largest evangelical groups in South Carolina, released an “action item” calling on its members to “take two minutes right now to thank our Governor for issuing this bold pro-life order.”
“With Governor Henry McMaster leading the way, South Carolina has taken another step forward in the process of defunding the abortion clinic, Planned Parenthood,” the group’s release noted. “This is an important step in the fight to defend all life in South Carolina.”
Our readers remain unconvinced of McMaster’s sincerity on this issue …
According to a poll taken in the aftermath of McMaster’s announcement, 78 percent of our readers said they believed the governor was “playing politics” on the abortion issue compared to just 17 percent who said he was genuinely “standing for the unborn.” Five percent of respondents said they were unsure.
McMaster is facing a sterner than expected challenge from political newcomer Catherine Templeton, a Mount Pleasant, S.C. attorney who has basically matched the incumbent “Republican” in fundraising and actually begun drawing fire from Democrats who view her as a far more credible general election threat.
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