Last week, this news site covered a broadside from the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) against incumbent “Republican” governor Henry McMaster of South Carolina.
In our coverage, we noted how curious this criticism was …
“The last time we checked Palmetto State Democrats were far more concerned about McMaster’s top rival,” we wrote, referring to Lowcountry attorney Catherine Templeton.
Indeed they are …
Templeton trails McMaster in the polls by a considerable margin, but that’s attributable almost exclusively to the latter’s name identification. The 70-year-old politician has spent the better part of four-and-a-half decades either holding or campaigning for elected office in South Carolina. McMaster has been a U.S. attorney, SCGOP chairman, attorney general and lieutenant governor – not to mention a failed candidate for governor and U.S. Senator.
Templeton? This is her first time running for elected office … any office … and she’s been able to emerge as McMaster’s most viable opponent without having to spend significant resources on boosting her own name identification.
This week, national Democrats finally got the memo and turned their attention to Templeton – chastising her for failing to take a position on the tax bill currently moving its way through the U.S. Congress.
“South Carolinians deserve a governor who will put South Carolina first, but Catherine Templeton refuses to take a stand on this critical bill that will raise taxes on middle-class South Carolinians and blow up the national debt by $2 trillion,” said DGA communications director Jared Leopold. “It’s time for Catherine Templeton to if she stands with governor Henry McMaster in supporting the congressional GOP tax bill. By refusing to speak out against this tax plan, Templeton has made clear where her priorities really lie.”
We’re waiting for it …
(For our latest thoughts on the GOP tax bill, click here).
This isn’t the first time Templeton has been criticized for not taking a position on tax policy. Last month, she was blasted by fiscally conservative state senator Tom Davis for failing to take a stand on a gas tax hike passed by state lawmakers back in the spring.
This news site opposed that levy – and our founding editor Will Folks is currently suing to have it overturned on constitutional grounds.
Davis – who led the legislative resistance to the gas tax hike – told us he is closely watching the debate in Washington in the event there is a need “to mitigate the disproportionate treatment” contained in the GOP tax bill.
Davis has previously supported broad-based individual income tax relief for Palmetto State citizens and small business owners. He’s argued (correctly) that South Carolina not only has the highest marginal income tax rate in the southeast – but that this rate is regressive in that it kicks in on all income over $14,600.
Templeton has yet to roll out her 2018 tax plan, but we believe the issue represents an opportunity for her to bolster the populist credentials she recently embraced. It also represents an opportunity for her to gain additional ground in her battle against McMaster – a scandal-scarred, status quo incumbent who is unlikely to endorse anything resembling real tax relief as part of his reelection bid.
McMaster was supposed to cruise to victory in 2018 after the governor’s mansion was gift-wrapped for him by U.S. president Donald Trump back in January. Trump recently came down to raise money for McMaster, an October endorsement which clearly failed to move the needle for the incumbent.
Any other candidate would have translated these advantages into guaranteed reelection. McMaster, however, remains exceedingly vulnerable due to his fiscally reckless “leadership” (here and here), his gross incompetence in leading state government (here and here) and his inability to reverse the state’s pervasive economic stagnation (here and here).
McMaster is also increasingly weighed down by his proximity to #ProbeGate, an ongoing, multi-jurisdictional investigation into corruption in state government that has ensnared many of his political allies.
Partisan primary elections in South Carolina will be held next spring. To follow our continuing coverage of this race (and other statewide elections), click on articles tagged #SC2018.
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