It’s no secret South Carolina governor Henry McMaster has run an uninspired reelection campaign up to this point …
As we noted back in January, “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.”
Will he survive that battle? At this point we believe it’s a fifty-fifty proposition …
McMaster’s recent staffing upheavals and underwhelming fundraising totals highlight the turmoil facing his organization – which is run by an assemblage of status quo operatives whose loyalties are clearly aligned with everything McMaster pretends to be against.
One of these operatives? Scott Farmer – the longtime aide-de-camp to uber-liberal U.S. senator Lindsey Graham.
Farmer came on two months ago to stabilize McMaster’s campaign, although we’re told he’s been only marginally successful in that effort.
Several of the governor’s top financial donors remain deeply concerned with the overall direction of McMaster’s reelection bid – which is facing credible challenges from S.C. lieutenant governor Kevin Bryant, Lowcountry labor attorney Catherine Templeton and Upstate businessman John Warren.
Specifically, there is growing concern that McMaster – who ran unsuccessfully for governor back in 2010 – has failed to create the sort of statewide grassroots organization necessary to be victorious in the June 2018 GOP primary.
“Grassroots” in politics refers to a network of loyal volunteers and paid staff who work one-on-one in their local communities on behalf of a candidate – identifying potential supporters, informing them of the candidate’s message and (ideally) convincing those individuals to turn out at the polls and vote for the candidate.
Successful campaigns are built on good grassroots organizations (a.k.a. the “ground war”). These efforts are then supplemented by earned media (television, newspaper and internet coverage) and paid media (television, newspaper and internet advertising).
“Your messaging through earned and paid media should be driven toward turnout,” said David Carter, a strategist with Charleston, S.C.-based Capital Consulting Group. “And your turnout is driven by voter identification and targeting at the grassroots level. If you don’t have a good grassroots operation, you will never get the maximum value for your paid media.”
Indeed … which is why McMaster donors are nervous.
According to our sources, Farmer recognized immediately upon taking over the McMaster campaign in mid-January that its grassroots efforts were … lacking.
Frankly, that’s surprising to hear considering McMaster has been in Palmetto politics for the better part of four decades and has mounted multiple successful statewide campaigns – including victorious bids in 2002, 2006 (for attorney general) and 2014 (for lieutenant governor).
Of all the candidates seeking the GOP nomination, his grassroots should be the broadest … and best-rooted.
They’re not, though …
According to our sources, Farmer bluntly told several top donors that the campaign’s ground operation “should have been set up” several months ago – but that for whatever reason it wasn’t. Rather than scramble to create such a ground game, Farmer assured donors that McMaster would be able to make up for this deficiency with a sustained “air war.”
“We’re going to blow them all out on television,” he told one donor in the Lowcountry. “Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump.”
McMaster’s campaign clearly believes the support he has received from U.S. president Donald Trump – including an October 2017 fundraising appearance at which extensive video footage was shot – is the key to his reelection bid.
In fact they’re betting everything on that …
Obviously Trump’s endorsement will help (even if the president is losing support amongst his base at the moment), but the lack of a large, well-oiled ground operation is yet another glaring deficiency we’ve uncovered related to McMaster’s foundering reelection bid.
In fact, it’s just the sort of thing that could potentially keep him from receiving more than fifty percent of the vote in the initial GOP primary vote on June 12. If McMaster fails to reach that threshold, it would force a runoff election between him and whichever one of his challengers finishes second in the first round of voting.
That’s where McMaster is most vulnerable to being defeated, we believe …
Stay tuned … #SC2018 is heating up.
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