South Carolina governor Henry McMaster didn’t have a good year in 2017. After having the governor’s mansion gift-wrapped for him, he went from being a “lock” for reelection to finding himself in a pitched battle for his very political survival.
So far 2018 isn’t shaping up much better for the guffawing, establishment politician – who remains tainted by his proximity to a lingering anti-corruption investigation.
Two critical data points show the 70-year-old Columbia, S.C. native in an exceedingly vulnerable position as the 2018 “Republican” gubernatorial race heats up (and that’s before his longtime consultant Richard Quinn gets hauled back before the statewide grand jury later this month).
Last week, a survey conducted by the widely respected Trafalgar Group out of Atlanta, Georgia showed McMaster polling at under forty percent against a trio of lesser-known opponents. That’s an extremely disappointing number given his status as an incumbent with more than four decades of political experience.
It’s even more disappointing considering none of McMaster’s opponents have appropriated substantial resources to boost their own name identification over the past few months.
Speaking of resources, that’s McMaster’s other problem …
This week, the scandal-scarred “Republican” waited until the very last second to post his campaign finance report for the fourth quarter of 2017. According to that document, filed with the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC) late Wednesday, McMaster raised $1 million from October 1 to December 31 of last year.
Is that a good number? Yes and no … but mostly “no.”
McMaster’s print was well below the $1.5 million Palmetto politicos were expecting from him – and $1 million is an unbelievably underwhelming haul when you consider his campaign hosted a fundraiser starring U.S. president Donald Trump in mid-October.
Having played his “Trump card,” what does McMaster have left?
Entering 2018, McMaster has approximately $2.6 million in his bank account – only $264,000 more than his main rival, Lowcountry labor attorney Catherine Templeton.
Against all odds, Templeton has managed to keep up with the incumbent in the all-important money race … even after McMaster hosted an event with the president.
“Dead governor walking,” one national consultant following the 2018 race told us.
Obviously anything can happen between now and June 12 (the date of the GOP primary) but McMaster backers have to be deeply concerned with where their candidate finds himself at the start of the new year. Meanwhile, our guess is Templeton supporters are ecstatic at their candidate’s unexpected fundraising prowess.
Stay tuned … and be sure to click on our #SC2018 tag to follow the very latest news on this race (and other statewide races this year).
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our stories? Please feel free to submit your own guest column or letter to the editor via-email HERE. Got a tip for us? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question? CLICK HERE. Want to support what we’re doing? SUBSCRIBE HERE.