South Carolina GOP gubernatorial candidate John Warren has pulled off the first coup of the “Republican” runoff election against incumbent Henry McMaster.
Warren is making four stops across South Carolina on Thursday to unveil the endorsements of Lowcountry labor attorney Catherine Templeton and lieutenant governor Kevin Bryant, the third and fourth-place finishers in this week’s GOP primary for governor.
“I am honored to have the support of Catherine Templeton and Kevin Bryant,” Warren said in a release announcing the endorsements. “We are continuing to build the conservative movement every day to take on the status quo and root out corruption.”
News of the endorsements was first reported by Meg Kinnard of the Associated Press.
Between the two of them, Templeton and Bryant received a little over 28 percent of the vote on Tuesday – roughly equivalent to what Warren got. McMaster received just over 42 percent of the vote on the primary ballot.
Obviously not all of Templeton’s and Bryant’s supporters will heed their advice, but their imprimaturs are exceedingly significant as the two-week runoff race between Warren and McMaster begins to take shape.
Warren will appear in Columbia, on Hilton Head Island, in Aiken and in Anderson, S.C. as he announces the endorsements. Here is his schedule …
11:00 AM – Columbia
8807 Bluff Rd, Columbia | SC 29201
12:45 PM – Hilton Head
HXD/KHXD – Signature Flight
52 Gateway Circle | Hilton Head, SC 29926
2:10 PM – Aiken
IATA – Aiken Aviation
129 Aviation Boulevard | Aiken, SC 29805
3:35 PM – Anderson
KAND – Anderson FBO
5805 Airport Road, Anderson | SC 29626
Bryant’s endorsement of Warren was widely expected. Both candidates are social conservatives who hail from the vote-rich Upstate region of the Palmetto State. But Templeton’s endorsement came as a shock given the ferocity with which she attacked Warren during the waning days of the primary.
Not surprisingly, the bad blood was boiling over as the race concluded. Prior to the final GOP gubernatorial debate last week, Warren refused to shake Templeton’s hand. And as recently as Wednesday morning, it wasn’t clear whether the two erstwhile rivals were even speaking to one another.
How was the hatchet buried?
“Yesterday, I listened to both candidates running for the Republican nomination,” Tempelton said in a message to her supporters. “Both asked for my endorsement and I legitimately listened. I invested two years of my life and all of my relationships in this journey and I don’t want to leave the future of South Carolina to chance.”
What made her decide to endorse Warren?
“John Warren very respectfully traveled to Charleston and allowed me all the time I wanted to ask all the hard questions. I did. Then, I asked him some more. We agreed, disagreed, and even laughed together, but I saw in him earnest passion for what is right,” Templeton said.[timed-content-server show=’2018-Jan-17 00:00:00′ hide=’2018-Jun-18 00:00:00′]
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“John Warren will build a team of experts to help him drain the swamp and I am proud to trust my money and my children with him as our next governor,” Templeton added. “John is the future, not the status quo. We need a bold new generation of leadership that is in this to serve the people of South Carolina, not the good old boys.”
Warren’s endorsements should not only help him eat into McMaster’s lead – they could help deflect from what is expected to be a brutal two weeks of negative campaigning from the embattled incumbent.
In fact, we previewed some of McMaster’s anticipated lines of attack in a post earlier today.
Ironically, the gap between McMaster and Warren is due almost exclusively to the broadsides he took from Templeton. Had all of the “Republican” campaigns stayed positive during the primary cycle, our guess is Warren would have finished in the mid-to-low-thirties … and McMaster would have never cleared the forty percent threshold.
Stay tuned … the “Republican” runoff in South Carolina just got real.
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