DOES THE NATION’S GOP GOVERNORS’ GROUP KNOW INCUMBENT IS ON THE ROPES? ONE DONOR REFERS TO RGA AS “BAG MEN” FOR CATHERINE TEMPLETON
The Republican Governors Association (RGA) doesn’t endorse in primary elections. And judging from its social media pronouncements the organization appears to be very friendly toward most “Republican” incumbents. In other words, you’d think its leaders would be all about supporting the 2018 campaign of incumbent GOP governor Henry McMaster in South Carolina.
Of course the RGA has seen what countless South Carolinians have seen over the past fourteen months: That McMaster simply isn’t up to the job.
Both his campaign and his administration have been unmitigated disasters … which is why the 70-year-old good ol’ boy is in serious danger of losing the “Republican” nomination in June to one of three credible challengers, lieutenant governor Kevin Bryant, Lowcountry labor attorney Catherine Templeton or Upstate businessman John Warren.
Of these three, we believe Templeton or Warren are most likely to defeat McMaster owning to their ability to compete with him financially.
We’re not the only ones who think so, either …
McMaster leads in most early polls … but his support has remained well south of a critical threshold: Fifty percent of likely GOP primary voters.
In South Carolina, if no candidate receives the support of a majority of voters on the initial partisan primary ballot – a runoff election between the top two vote-getters commences two weeks later.
This head-to-head runoff election is where McMaster – the very embodiment of a status quo politician – is most vulnerable.
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“It’s simple: People who vote against McMaster once are likely to vote against him twice,” one unaffiliated GOP consultant told us. “If he can’t break fifty percent on June 12 (the date of the GOP primary election), he’s in real trouble.”
Given McMaster’s current positioning, a runoff appears inevitable. Which means “real trouble” appears to be inevitable.
According to our sources, the RGA knows this. And has known it for months. Not only that, the organization already has a clear-cut favorite in the race: Templeton.
But it goes deeper than that, according to our sources. We’re told the RGA’s thinly veiled preference for Templeton – who has been described in the media as a “conservative buzzsaw” – has already morphed into what some are terming “full-blown coordination.” This coordination is said to include extensive information sharing on a wide range of campaign-related activities – including a pair of recent “black ops” related to the 2018 governor’s race.
Details of these “black ops” were not immediately available, but we’re told the alleged RGA affiliation with Templeton’s candidacy is part of a broader show of support from some of the same establishment Republican interests that have previously backed her candidacy – resulting in some blowback against her on conservative social media.
And from McMaster’s campaign …
Speaking of McMaster, multiple members of his inner circle have made it abundantly clear to us that they believe the RGA has been unfriendly to their candidate.
“RGA has been very little help to the governor,” one McMaster aide told us bluntly.
One of the governor’s top donors was even more direct in assessing the situation.
“They are her bag men,” the donor told us, referring to Templeton. “They are doing her dirty work behind the scenes.”
To be clear, no one has suggested to us that RGA staffers are working directly with members of Templeton’s campaign – which continues to land decisive blows against McMaster as she engages in an air war intended to introduce herself more broadly to the state’s GOP electorate.
“It’s all at the donor level – all at the operative level,” a source familiar with the alleged coordination told us.[timed-content-server show=”2018-Jan-17 00:00:00″ hide=”2018-May-18 00:00:00″]
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Neither Templeton’s campaign nor the RGA were immediately available to respond to our inquiries, but if we hear back from either organization we will be sure to update this post with their reaction.
South Carolina GOP voters head to the polls on June 12 to cast their ballots for governor, attorney general, secretary of state and S.C. House of Representatives.
To stay up to speed on the latest coverage of those races, keep clicking on this site …
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