Is it a two-person race? Because it sure is starting to feel that way …
The 2018 “Republican” gubernatorial election was supposed to be a coronation of incumbent Henry McMaster – who was gifted the office by U.S. president Donald Trump (and then endowed with Trump’s endorsement and boatloads of cash from a presidential fundraiser).
None of it has mattered …
McMaster’s campaign has been one of the worst-managed operations we’ve seen in our dozen years covering Palmetto politics … making it not unlike his inept, results-challenged administration.
According to the latest gubernatorial polling shared with this news site, McMaster is currently supported by just over 39 percent of likely GOP primary voters – well below the fifty percent (plus one) threshold he needs to hit to win the nomination outright on June 12.
(In South Carolina partisan primary elections, races in which no candidate receives a majority of votes on the first ballot advance to head-to-head runoffs two weeks later).
Barring a seismic shift in the electoral landscape over the next three-and-a-half weeks, McMaster is headed for a runoff election on June 26 against one of his primary rivals. Which one, though?
According to the polling we’ve seen, Lowcountry labor attorney Catherine Templeton is currently supported by just over 21 percent of likely GOP primary voters while Upstate businessman John Warren is clocking it at around 11 percent (and climbing). Lieutenant governor Kevin Bryant is polling just under 8 percent, while former lieutenant governor Yancey McGill is at five percent.
The remainder of the GOP primary electorate – around 13 percent – is undecided, we’re told.
The race for the runoff against McMaster certainly seems to have boiled down to a battle between Templeton and Warren … especially when you consider neither Bryant nor McGill have the resources to compete on television down the stretch.
Who will prevail? Good question …
McMaster has made it abundantly clear which candidate he perceives as his biggest threat, though.
A week ago, the incumbent launched his first negative television ad against Templeton. Four days later, a political action committee supporting (and possibly coordinating with) McMaster’s campaign followed suit – although its ads were yanked from the state’s airwaves after Templeton challenged their veracity.
Effectively, it would seem.
That’s right … the anti-Templeton attack ads were pulled. Which is unheard of in this business …
Pressing her advantage, Templeton is running an ad this week entitled “Desperate Politicians” that takes McMaster to task for his botched offensive.
“The press call Henry McMaster’s attacks false – and Nikki Haley backs up Templeton,” the ad’s narrator states, referring to a dust-up in which The (Charleston. S.C.) Post and Courier used anonymous sources to allege that Templeton had been fired from her job at the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC).
That allegation was repeated in the pro-McMaster attack ad.
Anyway, here is Templeton’s spot responding to the negative barrage …
(Click to view)
(Via: Templeton for Governor)
“McMaster is desperate,” the narrator continues, citing the incumbent’s proximity to #ProbeGate, a lingering investigation into corruption in state government.
The ad also slams McMaster for “billions in rigged utility hikes,” a reference to the ongoing #NukeGate scandal.
“Four decades as a career politician – fading away,” the narrator concludes.
The ad closes with Templeton speaking to the camera …
“It’s time for a governor as bold and conservative as the people of South Carolina,” she says.
Not a bad counter … although Templeton (who whipped out a snub-nosed .38 caliber revolver and fired it at a rattlesnake in her previous ad) probably won’t generate quite the same buzz with this spot as she did with her last one.
Also, Warren just dropped a pair of effective spots as he looks to close the gap between him and Templeton …
Bottom line? We could be headed toward a photo finish on June 12 …
WANNA SOUND OFF?
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