The Campaign Spot

The Decision Facing Gresham Barrett Tonight

Chatting on Fox News with the boss, William Kristol suggested that the second-place finisher in South Carolina’s gubernatorial primary, Rep. Gresham Barrett, may drop out tomorrow and concede the GOP nomination to Nikki Haley, who finished just short of the threshold to avoid a runoff.

On South Carolina television, Barrett has denied that he’s considering that option. Of course, he will probably get a lot of phone calls tomorrow, probably some from national Republicans who would prefer that their nominee’s campaign not spend the next two weeks spending more money fending off attacks. Nick Ayers, executive director of the Republican Governors Association, Tweeted tonight, “Two stars born tonight, Strausberg and Nikki Haley. One good for baseball. The other great for Republicans and South Carolina.”

Then the RGA distributed this statement from Ayers:

The voters of South Carolina made a clear choice in Nikki Haley, notwithstanding the possibility of a runoff.   The outcome is all but certain.

Nikki Haley withstood a barrage of innuendoes and slurs in the closing days of the primary season and persevered to the finish with dignity, determination and confidence. Moreover, receiving half of the votes against two other statewide incumbent Republicans and a sitting Congressman speaks volumes of her strength as a candidate and bodes very well for her in the General Election. We congratulate Nikki for her grit and determination. Meanwhile, South Carolina Democrats have again served up the same old Washington, D.C.-style solution to any problem: expanded government. Vincent Sheheen promises more regulatory interference, bureaucratic red tape and impediments to free enterprise. Exactly what The Palmetto State does not need.

I don’t think a Barrett withdrawal will happen, and I don’t think it should happen, but I wouldn’t begrudge Barrett that decision if he made it. Haley has to earn it, in accordance with the rules and laws that were established beforehand. Sometimes you finish just short of enough to avoid a runoff, and sometimes the ump botches his call and costs you a no-hitter. But Barrett has, at this hour, a little more than 91,000 votes; Haley has more than 204,000 votes. He’ll probably get the support of the anti-Haley establishment, but at this point he has to ask himself whether he really wants it. He’s a good man, a good congressman, a solid conservative, is not part of the problem in Columbia, and would probably make a fine governor. But most nights, if you finish with less than 22 percent, you’re giving a concession speech. He has to make up an enormous amount of ground in two weeks. If he does withdraw, he’ll be hailed as a gentleman in a state that has seen no chivalry lately, and the near-certain next governor will owe him one huge favor.

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