In the “Republican” runoff election for South Carolina’s Senate District 16 (.pdf) – which is scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday June 23, 2020) – one of the two GOP candidates recently attempted to gain some ground on his rival by touting his proximity to U.S. president Donald Trump.
Tom Nichols – who has branded himself as a “straight shooter” – appears to have misfired badly in this instance, though.
(Click to view)
Nichols’ latest mailing (above) featured a picture of Trump firing off a double “thumbs-up” gesture below the following caption: “Conservatives are giving Tom Nichols two thumbs up.”
Unfortunately for the “straight shooter,” though, his mail missive was not well-received by the president’s reelection campaign. In fact, it prompted a cease and desist letter from that organization which accused Nichols of having “misappropriated the President’s name, image and likeness” for his own “political gain.”
The letter goes on to say Nichols’ “deceptive use” of Trump’s image and likeness is “unfair to the President’s loyal supporters who may be considering voting for you on the false belief that the President backs your efforts.”
“Your mailer appears clearly designed to mislead South Carolina voters into believing that the president endorses your campaign, but that could not be further from the truth,” the letter concluded, instructing Nichols to “immediately cease and desist all use of the President’s name, image, or likeness that in any way suggests that either the President or his campaign endorses or otherwise supports your candidacy for the South Carolina State Senate.”
To his credit, Nichols took the rebuke in stride.
“Because I fully support President Trump, my campaign is happy to comply with the request made in this letter,” he said in a statement forwarded to this news outlet. “At no time did we ever suggest we had received Mr. Trump’s endorsement; only that I enthusiastically stand with our President. Yet you can’t help noticing my opponent has been strangely silent about Mr. Trump. So in this campaign’s closing hours, I again call on Michael Johnson to answer the following question on the record: Do you stand with President Donald Trump without reservation, yes or no? The people of Lancaster and York Counties are waiting for your answer.”
Nichols captured 31.86 percent of the GOP vote in the primary election two weeks ago. That was good for first place in a four-way field for the “Republican” nomination for this seat – which is being vacated by fiscally liberal senator Greg Gregory. In second place with 27.16 percent of the vote was York county council chairman Michael Johnson – who narrowly edged businesswoman Kristen Blanchard (who received 26.41 percent of the vote).
Because no candidate cleared the fifty percent threshold, Nichols and Johnson advanced to a head-to-head runoff this week – which is shaping up as one of the few competitive primary battles this election cycle.
A Democrat – Ram Mammadov – also filed for the seat and will be on the ballot in November.
Both Johnson and Nichols have high-profile support in this race – with the former receiving the endorsement of ex-White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and the latter reportedly receiving support from U.S. congressman Ralph Norman.
Which one will prevail? We shall see … but as this race enters its final 24 hours it certainly appears as though the “straight shooter” may have shot himself in the foot …
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