Tags: Henry McMaster

The Contenders to Replace DeMint


Jim DeMint’s sudden resignation from the Senate to head up the Heritage Foundation makes a lot of sense for him (the preeminent position at one of, if not the, most preeminent conservative think tanks, his to enjoy for perhaps decades) and a lot of sense for the organization.

But there’s reason for a lot of conservatives to feel disappointed. There’s been an accusation – sometimes fair, sometimes not – that some conservative lawmakers want to take a pure and uncompromising stance, but who prefer to do so safely from the metaphorical sidelines. Conservatives complain that they never get one of their own in leadership in the House or Senate, but any conservative who did would run the risk of acknowledging the hard truth of the job: sometimes the best deal you can get is half a loaf. And once you became the guy who negotiated the “half a loaf” deal, you lose your “true conservative” street cred.

I’m hearing some folks say DeMint will be able to fight for his causes better at Heritage than from within the U.S. Senate, and that strikes me as debatable. He’s going from a position where he can influence the writing of legislation to a position where he can influence the writing of white papers. Is he really going to have more success persuading lawmakers as a head of a think tank – even one as respected and well-regarded as Heritage – than as a colleague?

In the meantime, this sets up a free-for-all in the sharp-elbowed world of South Carolina Republican politics, and greatly lessens the chance of a serious conservative challenge to Lindsey Graham.

Governor Nikki Haley is going to have a lot of options to choose from in the coming days or weeks:

  • Congressman Tim Scott, the only African-American Republican in Congress starting in January 2013. CNN is reporting that DeMint has indicated he would prefer Scott as his successor.
  • Congressman Mick Mulvaney, a Tea Party favorite who pulled off an upset victory over longtime incumbent Democrat John Spratt in 2010.
  • Congressman Trey Gowdy, who beat incumbent Bob Inglis in the 2010 primary in his district, who has proven a tenacious fighter on the Judiciary Committee and Government Reform Committee and sometimes feuded with the House Republican leadership.
  • Former State Attorney General Henry McMaster, a former U.S. Attorney under Ronald Reagan who ran for governor against Haley in 2010 and endorsed her in the runoff.
  • State Sen. Tom Davis, popular in his Low Country district and once frequently-mentioned as a possible challenger to Graham; surprised some Republicans by backing Ron Paul in the 2012 GOP presidential primary.
  • State Attorney General Alan Wilson, the son of Rep. Joe Wilson. The younger Wilson was just elected in 2010 to a four-year term, and he may not be eager to leave so soon.

Rep. Joe Wilson has been asked about running for statewide office many times and indicated he’s happy with his role in the House.

Keep in mind that any of the above figured who are not picked as DeMint’s interim successor could very well challenge the picked successor or Graham in the 2014 primaries.

I can’t begrudge DeMint or Heritage this decision, but a lot of headaches are going to flow forth from this…

Tags: Henry McMaster , Jim DeMint , Lindsey Graham , Mick Mulvaney , Tim Scott , Republican National Convention , Trey Gowdy

Finally: Huntsman 2012, The Musical!


He’s low in the polls, but he’s having fun: Jon Huntsman is joined by some South Carolina Republicans, Rep. Tim Scott and former state attorney general Henry McMaster, singing “Hit the Road, Jack” to President Obama.

Maybe he can play at the Inauguration…

(HT: Tina Korbe.)

Tags: Henry McMaster , Jon Huntsman , Tim Scott

Forget the Gubernatorial Primary! Somebody Stole From Paula Deen!


Tonight is my last night in Hilton Head, South Carolina, where I’ve been able to get a sense of how the Palmetto State governor’s race is being covered locally. While we political junkies wonder if Nikki Haley will emerge victorious, whether Gresham Barrett or Henry McMaster will catch up, or whether Andre Bauer will invent some new innovative technique in mudslinging, the race isn’t always the biggest issue on the minds of the locals.

Tonight, the top story on the 11 p.m. news broadcast on the Savannah, Georgia, ABC affiliate, which broadcasts into this part of South Carolina, was . . .  the arrest of a housekeeper for stealing from celebrity chef and Savannah resident Paula Deen. The same story was the top item on the CBS affiliate. On the NBC affiliate, they were touting Matt Lauer’s interview with President Obama, where he talked about how he wants to know whose ass to kick.

A billboard depicting an unhappy face made out of oil-slicked shrimp in Okatie, South Carolina, is the next big story.

Eight minutes in, NBC affiliate WSAV did their wrap-up story. Todd Shaw, a University of South Carolina political-science professor, noted that the backlash against the affair allegations may have helped Nikki Haley slightly. They also noted that, surprisingly, voter turnout is expected to be low, based on the number of absentee ballots returned so far.

There’s a whole world outside of politics, even the night before a big, dramatic primary.

Tags: Andre Bauer , Gresham Barrett , Henry McMaster , Nikki Haley

So Far, Voters Still Hail Haley


I told you there wasn’t any affair-claim fallout down here in South Carolina:

Nikki Haley hasn’t suffered any damage whatsoever after accusations of multiple extramarital affairs and is headed for an easy first place finish in Tuesday’s Republican primary for Governor of South Carolina.Haley has a 20 point lead, getting 43 percent of the vote. Gresham Barrett looks like the favorite for the second runoff spot. He’s at 23 percent, followed by Henry McMaster at 16 percent, and Andre Bauer at 12 percent.

I think 12 percent of South Carolinians have yearned for a governor who, during debates, avoids eye contact with the moderator, other candidates, camera, or any other direction.

By the way, for those in the lower South Carolina/northeastern* Georgia neck of the woods today:

Jim Geraghty, who writes for the conservative magazine National Review and serves as a commentator on CNN and Fox News, will speak Monday to the First Monday Republican Lunch Group at Aunt Chilada’s on Hilton Head Island.

Candidates in the upcoming S.C. House District 123 primary race also will be on hand, as will Doug Henderson, who is collecting signatures to get on the ballot as a petition candidate for Beaufort County treasurer in the fall general election.

Reservations are not required for the lunch, which starts at noon. The lunch, which includes beverage, tax and tip, costs $10.

* A reader argues that Savannah isn’t really “northeastern” Georgia. Well, it’s northeast of some part of Georgia…

Tags: Andre Bauer , Gresham Barrett , Henry McMaster , Nikki Haley

The Palmetto State Circus, a.k.a. the GOP Gubernatorial Primary, Enters Its Final Weekend


Here in Hilton Head, South Carolina, the print edition of today’s Island Packet has nothing on the state senator’s “raghead” comment about gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley (probably too late for their deadlines), and one sentence referring to the affair allegations. I’ve seen letters to the editor complaining about giving the claims any attention beyond the initial story, and the editors seem to be handling the charge with increasing skepticism.

While I’d feel more confident about Haley’s chances if there were more recent polling, I think this probably helps front-running Haley. The next 48 hours or so are almost guaranteed to be dominated by discussion of the “raghead” comment, and/or candidate and current state attorney general Henry McMaster’s contention that the campaign has hurt the state’s image:

“The behavior of my opponents, their campaigns and their supporters over the last few weeks has not served our state well,” McMaster said in a statement issued by his campaign. “In fact, it’s been embarrassing. . . . They should rein in their attention-starved surrogates, re-focus on the important issues at hand, and renew their commitment to putting South Carolina’s interest above their own self-interest.”

It’s been a long and hard-fought campaign, with plenty of mailers, ads, and debates, so I suspect there aren’t that many undecided voters left. I suspect this spurs what remaining undecided who are certain to vote to go with Haley, as a sort of rebuke to the dubious accusers. Alternatively, we could see a late surge for McMaster as he’s trying to position himself above the fray. Right now, I suspect the two go to a runoff.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer has decided he wants to close out his campaign by challenging Haley to take a polygraph test.

Tags: Andre Bauer , Henry McMaster , Nikki Haley

Oh Nikki, Polls So Fine, Polls So Fine She Blows Our Minds


One race that’s been on my to-do list for a while is the South Carolina governor’s race; their primary is June 8. (If no candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote in the primary, a runoff will be held between the top two vote-getters.)

Rasmussen has some new numbers that are surprising:

With South Carolina’s Republican Primary for Governor less than three weeks away, State Representative Nikki Haley, coming off a fresh endorsement by Sarah Palin, now leads the GOP pack.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary voters shows Haley earning 30% support. She’s followed by State Attorney General Henry McMaster who picks up 19% and Congressman Gresham Barrett with 17%. Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer captures 12% of the vote.

Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate in the race, but nearly one-in-five potential primary voters (18%) remain undecided.

To conservatives, the choices range from pretty good to good to really good. Nikki Haley is one of those great rising stars in the GOP; she took on her own party over the importance of having recorded votes (instead of voice votes, where it’s simply done by saying “aye” or “nay,” leaving no record of which lawmakers approved and which opposed a particular bill or amendment). Henry McMaster was one of the first state attorney generals to challenge the constitutionality of Obamacare. Gresham Barrett has a lifetime ACU rating of 98.

And Andre Bauer? I know some Republicans in the state aren’t thrilled with him — comparing the needy to stray animals generally strikes most folks as harsh — but during the Sanford mess, he took the high road and said that if Sanford was removed from office, he would not seek a full term. (Some Republicans’ reluctance to see Bauer become governor was a contributing factor to the decision not to impeach Sanford.)

Three Democrats are running for governor in South Carolina: state senator Robert Ford, education superintendent Jim Rex, and state senator Vincent A. Sheheen.

Tags: Andre Bauer , Gresham Barrett , Henry McMaster , Nikki Haley

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