I had the honor of addressing the First Monday Republican Lunch Group on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina today. The turnout was great – about 140 people, I was told – but I don’t think that was all just to see me; the candidates in a hotly-contested state House primary addressed the crowd, as well as a much-loved State Senator, Tom Davis. Also, it’s the peak of the state’s political season; tomorrow is primary day, and the twists and turns of this year’s GOP gubernatorial primary make last year’s Appalachian journeys of Gov. Mark Sanford look dull by comparison.
I did an informal show of hands poll on the crowd’s gubernatorial preferences. There was healthy support for State Rep. Nikki Haley and State Attorney General Henry McMaster, but the crowd’s favorite by a significant margin seemed to be U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett. When I mentioned Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer – and yes, I momentarily imitated his no-eye-contact-with-other-candidates-or-moderator-or-camera-or-anyone performance at a recent debate – no one raised their hand in support. That could be that no one of the 150 or so supported him, or merely that no one wanted to say so in front of everyone else. It’s worth noting that the First Monday turnout tends to be the most die-hard among the die-hard, the most politically active and most interested in listening to guest speakers talk about politics.