South Carolina governor Henry McMaster has drawn extensive criticism for his administration’s disjointed response to the coronavirus pandemic. Flip-flops in policy, combative relations with local governments, unclear directives to the public and the poor performance of his cabinet agencies have conspired to paint a picture of an executive branch ill-equipped to deal with the crisis.
Also, a recent decision by McMaster’s top health official (the leader of the agency managing the state’s response to the virus) to take a three-week leave of absence in the middle of the crisis to address his blood pressure didn’t help this perception … at all.
This news outlet has not piled on McMaster … but we sure as hell haven’t defended his uneven performance.
One top state officials is “all in” for the leader of the executive branch, though.
S.C. speaker of the House Jay Lucas – arguably one of the two most influential elected officials in state government – issued a statement on Monday afternoon aggressively defending McMaster and excoriating his detractors.
“In this current public health crisis, the ability of state and local government to work together is paramount,” Lucas wrote. “Continued and unnecessary criticism of the governor by some local officials is counter-productive.”
Lucas went on to write that McMaster “has been fully engaged in every aspect” of South Carolina’s coronavirus response, and that “real methods to reduce spread have been implemented in a responsible manner across the state.”
“Hospital capacity has been greatly increased at his direction,” Lucas wrote. “Testing capacity is rising.”
According to the speaker, McMaster “has given clear directives to the people of South Carolina based on the best science available.”
And what of McMaster’s detractors?
According to Lucas, some local leaders of sparring with McMaster in the media for selfish political interests.
“I urge local government to work with state government rather than pitting themselves against this governor for personal political gain,” Lucas wrote. “Only together will we successfully navigate the pandemic and the economic and social results from it.”
This news outlet attempted to determine which local leaders Lucas was referring to, but neither the speaker nor any of his top legislative allies would “name names.”
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Banner: Columbia SC Photographer Travis Bell