The anger is bubbling just under the surface …
Fueled by a sense of entitlement, sparked by a challenge they never saw coming … it is pervasive.
But it’s there … and it’s building.
We’re referring to a growing sense of frustration (some say panic) on the part of the 2018 South Carolina gubernatorial campaign of Henry McMaster – who by all accounts is just beginning his ten-year reign over Palmetto State politics.
Just look at the polls, right?
McMaster has a three-to-one lead over the rest of the 2018 GOP gubernatorial field … combined. And exceedingly popular (in South Carolina, anyway) U.S. president Donald Trump is backing his candidacy.
Within McMaster’s apparent insurmountability, though, are serious concerns … not the least of which being that the incumbent “Republican” is essentially a cartoon caricature.
Fiscally reckless “leadership?” Check and check. Gross incompetence in leading state government? Check and check. Economic stagnation? Check and check. A campaign organization in total disarray? Check and check. Proximity to a pair of major political scandals. Check … and check.
These vulnerabilities have produced a palpable fear of GOP challenger Catherine Templeton – the Lowcountry labor attorney whose 2018 campaign has emerged as a well-funded (and infinitely more attractive) version of the 2010 Nikki Haley insurgency.
Remember those days … back when Haley was a Tea Partier?
(Click to view)
Templeton is no Tea Partier, but she is light years ahead of where Haley was at this point in the 2010 race. Prior to McMaster’s $1.5 million (well, our sources now say it was a $1.2 million) haul at a poorly organized presidential fundraiser in Greenville, S.C. earlier this month, the former Haley cabinet appointee was matching the incumbent dollar-for-dollar in the 2018 money race.
The party faithful – concerned about McMaster’s viability in a general election – are also rallying to her banner.
So … what’s an imperiled incumbent to do?
This is South Carolina, people. The answer is what it’s always been …
Make ready, take aim … FIRE!
Of course McMaster’s campaign has already done this once before, and its efforts backfired … spectacularly.
Part of the problem? The campaign operative who was hired to bring McMaster “the book” on Templeton – former Haley strategist Tim Pearson – has been a dud in his new role.
Apparently that hasn’t stopped the incumbent from collecting incriminating information on his top rival, though. We’re told McMaster’s other lead advisor – gubernatorial chief of staff Trey Walker – has made “taking Templeton out” his sole mission in life, and has been hard at work ensuring that his boss has the ammunition necessary to do just that.
Walker is a disciple of embattled “Republican” strategist Richard Quinn (below), the governor’s longtime Svengali and the current focus of #ProbeGate – a major, multi-jurisdictional investigation into corruption in state government. Walker has previously been summoned to the statewide grand jury to testify in connection with this investigation.
(Click to view)
So … what has McMaster’s opposition research into Templeton uncovered?
We’re not sure, especially seeing as we are receiving conflicting accounts from donors regarding a looming strike against the GOP challenger.
One source referred to the information in question as representing a “thermonuclear detonation” of Templeton’s candidacy, however other McMaster donors were quick to refute such speculation.
“All I know that they have on her is already out there,” one donor told us, referring to several no-bid consulting contracts Templeton received during her tenure as an appointee of Haley. “Unless she did something while practicing law years ago? But all I know of her professional (non-government) career is as a squeaky clean, union-busting lawyer.”
While disagreeing on on the substance of the opposition research, all the McMaster donors we spoke with challenged us to print whatever “dirt” we were provided on Templeton – arguing our news site has been far too generous and forgiving in its coverage of her candidacy up to this point.
That’s true … although in fairness to us, we’re still waiting on Templeton to define herself on a host of issues (and remember, we did give McMaster a blank slate prior to his ascension to the governor’s office).
Our views on Templeton will ultimately be based on her views on the issues. For example: Where is she on tax reform? State spending? School choice? Infrastructure funding reform? Overhauling our state’s broken ethics system? Fixing the pension fund? Crony capitalism?
We simply don’t know yet … but the positions she takes on those issues will ultimately determine the position we take on her candidacy.
As for opposition research (thermonuclear or otherwise) against Templeton or any other candidate, we will judge any information we receive based on the extent to which we are able to verify its veracity and on its relevance to the race in question.
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Banner: Templeton for Governor