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Powerful South Carolina Senate Leader Luke Rankin Draws A GOP Challenger

Socially conservative businessman seeking GOP seat held for pas three decades by fiscally liberal ex-Democrat …

One of the most influential members of the South Carolina Senate will face a primary challenge this spring. S.C. judiciary committee chairman Luke Rankin – a fiscally liberal party-switcher who has consistently opposed reform efforts in the Palmetto State – will be challenged in the GOP primary election by pro-life activist John Gallman, a devout social conservative who brands himself as “a Christ-follower, father, business leader, and community activist.”

Gallman kicked off his campaign for the gerrymandered S.C. Senate District 33 (.pdf) on Monday at Rioz Brazilian steak house in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

He hopes to defeat Rankin, who is running for his eighth four-year term in the S.C. Senate.

According to a release from Gallman’s campaign, he vowed to be a champion for the “heartbeat bill” – H. 3020 – which is currently stalled in the S.C. Senate.

Social conservatives welcomed his candidacy …

(Click to view)

(Via: John Gallman for Senate)

“We need a strong conservative representing us!” Gallman backer Eva Long said in a statement. “John is not afraid to stand up for the unborn, and I believe he will stand for justice for the residents of Horry county!”

Rankin and fiscally liberal S.C. Senate finance chairman Hugh Leatherman – another “former” Democrat – have both voted against pro-life legislation in the past, and are widely believed to be the roadblocks to passing the heartbeat bill out of the chamber.

Their opposition is significant (well, sort of), seeing as S.C. governor Henry McMaster has indicated he would sign the heartbeat bill the moment the legislation were to reach his desk.

In addition to vowing his support for the heartbeat bill, Gallman also pledged his support for “reforming Santee Cooper” – while generally advocating on behalf of “infrastructure” in this coastal district.

Wait … reforming Santee Cooper?

Who in their right mind still believes this agency can be “reformed” while it remains under state ownership/ leadership?

Well … aside from Rankin.

(Click to view)

(Via: John Gallman)

Seriously: Does Gallman (above) really think an agency responsible for this level of duplicity is somehow salvageable?

Because we don’t ... and frankly, we need GOP challengers who understand this reality. Not more apologists for Santee Cooper (like Rankin).

According to Gallman, he opposes monopolies “period – whether that be a publicly owned monopoly or privately owned monopoly.”  

“Free market competition is what our state needs,” he added. “The question remains, how do we create a free market competitive system that has legislative oversight?”

Also, we look forward to quizzing Gallman during the course of his campaign as to whether his stated support for “infrastructure” includes the notorious Interstate 73 boondoggle.

Because if it does, that would constitute strike two as far as we are concerned …

Fortunately, one Gallman staffer told us the candidate was focused on getting “paving trucks on (S.C. Highway) 544 and on Lake Busbee and repair(ing) our roads in Conway before we make I-73 a priority.”

Still, the fact he supports this road at all is concerning …

Don’t get us wrong: Rankin needs (and deserves) to be defeated. The 57-year-old attorney has held this seat since 1993 – for eleven years as a Democrat and for the past sixteen years as a “Republican.” Over that time he has done literally nothing to make South Carolina safer, freer, more prosperous or more competitive.

Although he has certainly prospered on a personal level …

In fact, next to Leatherman we cannot think of any sitting member of the Senate who has done more over the past decade to hold the Palmetto State back from reaching its full potential (while simultaneously enriching themselves in the process).

Definitional self-service over public service …

Despite this, Rankin handily beat back a GOP challenge in 2016 from Scott Pyle, whose candidacy was endorsed by then-governor Nikki Haley. After defeating Pyle, he ran unopposed in the 2016 general election – which was not surprising considering he is essentially a Democratic vote. In 2012, Rankin was unopposed in both the primary and general election cycles.

As we often note in recapping races like this, every single seat in the 170-member S.C. General Assembly is up for election in 2020. That includes all 46 S.C. Senate districts and all 124 seats in the S.C. House of Representatives. 

Unfortunately, as we have frequently pointed out, very few of these races wind up being competitive.

Will this be one of them? We shall see …

Candidate filing for legislative seats opens at 12:00 p.m. EDT on March 16, 2020 and closes at the same time on March 30. Partisan primary elections will be held on June 9, 2020 – with runoff elections held on June 23, 2020, if necessary (if no candidate receives a majority of votes in a partisan primary election in South Carolina, the two top vote-getters advance to a head-to-head matchup two weeks later).

Once major party nominees are selected (and any petition candidates are certified), the general election will take place on November 3, 2020.

We will continue to keep an eye on this particular primary race as filing approaches … assessing developments as best we can and (as always) offering our microphone to Rankin, Gallman and any other candidates who may file for this seat.




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