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#SC2018: Henry McMaster Trying To Delay Fourth District Race

Incumbent governor hoping lawsuit will push back fourth district runoff …

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Aides working on behalf of incumbent South Carolina governor Henry McMaster reportedly reached out to the third place finisher in this week’s Upstate congressional race – offering to fund a lawsuit on his behalf.

What sort of suit?

Specifically, these aides are said to have told the candidate in question – state representative Dan Hamilton – that donors loyal to McMaster would subsidize a formal protest of last week’s “Republican” primary election in the Palmetto State’s fourth congressional district (map).

The goal of this legal challenge?  To delay the June 26 GOP runoff election between former state senator Lee Bright and (presumably) current state senator William Timmons – the two top vote getters in Tuesday’s twelve-person primary election for the seat being vacated by U.S. congressman Trey Gowdy.

Because Hamilton finished within one percentage point of Timmons in this race, a mandatory recount of all 67,089 ballots is scheduled for later this week.

Hamilton has the right to challenge the results of this recount, should he choose to do so, but that decision must be made no later than June 18.

Basically, McMaster was offering to pay the freight for such a challenge …

It’s not clear how Hamilton responded to the McMaster overture – if he responded at all.  We reached out to him but didn’t immediately receive a response, which is not surprising considering the recent contentiousness between this news site and his congressional campaign.

Make no mistake, though: His decision could have potentially far-reaching implications for the entire state of South Carolina.

How so?  First, some background on how we got here …

In South Carolina partisan primary elections involving three or more candidates, if no one receives a majority of votes cast on the first ballot (i.e. fifty percent plus one) a runoff election between the two top vote-getters is scheduled for two weeks later.

McMaster should know all about this: Despite enjoying all the advantages of incumbency (and an endorsement from U.S. president Donald Trump), he attracted only 42 percent of the vote in this week’s GOP gubernatorial primary.  Now he finds himself in the midst of an increasingly competitive runoff election himself against Upstate businessman John Warren – who drew just under 28 percent of the vote.

(Click to view)

(Via: Warren for Governor)

Warren (above) performed exceedingly well in the Upstate, drawing a whopping 46.1 percent of the vote in Greenville County on Tuesday.  If there is a congressional runoff on the same day as his runoff with McMaster – i.e. what the current election schedule calls for – most of these voters are likely going to come back out and cast their ballots for him again.

That would provide Warren’s campaign with a huge home-field advantage in his bid to make up the fourteen-point gap between him and McMaster.

Conversely, if McMaster can get the date of the fourth district runoff pushed back then he would dramatically suppress Warren’s support – materially elevating his own electoral prospects in the process.

Will he be successful? 

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Obviously we don’t think there is any way Hamilton can make up a 350-vote gap (the current margin between him and Timmons), but the decision to file a protest is ultimately his to make.

As for McMaster’s efforts to compel his decision one way or the other, though, we find such overtures highly inappropriate.

McMaster is fighting for his political life – and the stakes are clearly higher than ever.

But this sort of maneuver smacks of desperation on the part of the incumbent if you ask us …

UPDATE: The latest …  

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