#SC2018: Upstate Businessman Mulling Gubernatorial Bid

Could John Warren turn the South Carolina governor’s race on its ear?

A businessman from the Palmetto Upstate is reportedly considering a campaign for the South Carolina governor’s mansion.  Not only that, we’re told this would-be candidate is willing to invest heavily in his own campaign – which could make him an immediate player in the race.

John Warren, a Marine veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq, is the founder and CEO of Lima One Capital.  The company bills itself as a “specialty mortgage finance company.”

According to our sources, Warren has held several meetings in recent weeks with Upstate business leaders who are dissatisfied with the current “Republican” field.   We’re told he’s also held at least one confab with a team of political consultants eager to sell him on their services.

Warren reportedly had his sights set on the state’s fourth congressional seat when it appeared that U.S. congressman Trey Gowdy would be receiving a federal judicial appointment.  Gowdy has instead been elevated to a key chairmanship in the U.S. House, and it doesn’t appear as though he will be going anywhere anytime soon.

Warren has addressed his political aspirations in the past, making it clear he had an interest in running for office.

“I come from a service-oriented family,” he told Upstate Business Journal last spring.  “I risked a lot joining the Marine Corps after 9/11.  I love my country and I wanted to fight for it.  I think we have a huge leadership problem politically.  We have a failure of competence and a failure of values.  You compound those two things, and that’s where we are now.  A lot of people run who have never been successful in the real world.  They go into politics because that’s a way for them to make money or get the most fame.  But I think you need to be successful in business before you can run a $3.5 trillion P&L.”

As for specific aspirations, Warren told Upstate Business Journal he was committed to his company for the time being but “I definitely continue to love my country and I would look for opportunities in the future to serve in elected office.”

Is the 2018 governor’s race that opportunity?

It could be …

Incumbent “Republican” Henry McMaster was supposed to cruise to reelection in 2018 – having been gifted the governor’s office (and the power of incumbency) thanks to U.S. president Donald Trump‘s decision to appoint former S.C. governor Nikki Haley to his cabinet.

Unfortunately for McMaster, he has been dogged by a host of issues – including his proximity to an ongoing, multi-jurisdictional investigation into public corruption in state government.

McMaster’s vulnerability has helped fuel the rise of Catherine Templeton, a Lowcountry labor attorney who has exceeded all expectations in emerging as a credible alternative for frustrated GOP primary voters.

Templeton has been hammering away at McMaster’s vulnerabilities, embracing the prevailing populist angst and branding herself as the unspoiled outsider who can clean up the corruption in Columbia.

McMaster has also drawn a challenge from South Carolina lieutenant governor Kevin Bryant, a staunch social conservative from Anderson County, S.C. who has the potential to siphon considerable votes away from the aging “Republican” incumbent.

How could Warren potentially impact this field?  Stay tuned … we’re digging to see just how serious he is before we begin to assess his potential impact on the race.



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