South Carolina: Governor’s race will be a battle

South Carolina: Governor’s race will be a battle

By Hastings Wyman – South Carolina has an incumbent governor, but as lieutenant governor, Henry McMaster acceded to the office upon the resignation of Gov. Nikki Haley (R), now Ambassador to the United Nations. As a result, other ambitious Republicans do not feel obligated to stand aside and give McMaster a free ride back into office. “There are a lot of South Carolina leaders waiting their turn to run,” says Charleston Mercury publisher Charles Waring, “and they are going to run.” Nevertheless, McMaster has major assets. Greenville consultant “Chip” Felkel says that McMaster is “going to have some deference” as the current governor. “The power of incumbency is incredibly important,” especially in fundraising. McMaster had raised $160,000 by the 4th Quarter, a figure sure to grow. In addition, McMaster will be in the news on a regular basis. Most of the publicity will be good, although the indictment of prominent Republican state Sen. John Courson for allegedly depositing a refund of unspent campaign funds into his personal account won’t help. The scandal could expand to affect McMaster, since he and Courson use the same campaign consultant, Richard Quinn & Associates. McMaster has stood by both Courson and the Quinn firm, which has not been indicted. McMaster, 69, has run for statewide office six times, winning three and losing three. He was elected attorney general and lieutenant governor, but he lost his 2010 gubernatorial bid. “Henry is well-liked,” says Club for Growth’s former president Chad Walldorf, who touts the prospects of potential contender Catherine Templeton, “but a lot of people comfortable with him as lieutenant governor did not expect him...
South Carolina: Mulvaney vacancy draws 15 hopefuls

South Carolina: Mulvaney vacancy draws 15 hopefuls

By Hastings Wyman – Seven Republicans have filed to run for the 5th District congressional seat left vacant when Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) resigned to become director of President Trump’s Office of Management and Budget. Three Democrats have also filed in this heavily Republican district. In addition, three Libertarians are running, and one each from the American, Constitution and Green Parties. The primaries will be held on May 2, with runoffs, if needed, on May 16. The General Election is set for June 20. The Republican field includes four candidates from York County, the district’s most populous county; two from Kershaw County and one from Newberry County. The York County candidates are: Tommy Pope of York is the former speaker pro tempore of the state House of Representatives, a post he resigned to make the run for Congress. Pope, 54, originally gained notice in 1994 when, as a circuit solicitor, he successfully prosecuted Susan Smith for the murder of her two young sons. He had previously announced he would run for governor in 2018, but has since said that prospect is “on hold.” Ralph Norman of Rock Hill is a native of the county and a successful real estate developer. He resigned from the state House of Representatives in February to run for Congress. He ran for this seat once before in 2004, losing to Democratic incumbent John Spratt. Ray Craig of Lake Wylie is making his second bid for Congress. In 2016, he challenged Mulvaney in the Republican Primary, contending that Mulvaney was “too right of center, and I’m just right of center.” Among issues he cited were Mulvaney’s...
Georgia’s governor’s race begins soon.

Georgia’s governor’s race begins soon.

By Hastings Wyman – When the Georgia legislature finishes up on March 30, candidates for governor in the 2018 election are expected to begin their campaigns in earnest. With Governor Nathan Deal (R) term-limited, there is an open seat and interest in the race is high, especially on the Republican side. The most likely candidate is Lt. Casey Cagle (R), 51, the early frontrunner. Cagle has already amassed a significant war chest – a reported $3 million on hand or pledged. He has written a book, “Education Unleashed,” published last September, which puts forth a plan to transform public school education, a theme he may well make the centerpiece of his campaign. Other major political GOPers are also expected to run for governor. Secretary of State Brian Kemp is finishing up his second term in that office and is likely to seek to move up to the governorship. Kemp, 53, addressed the National Federation of Independent Businesses in Athens last month, and said he would like to see more “business-minded people in office.” He stressed the need to reduce regulations. He has been a real estate developer and “Kemp Means Business” has been his slogan. He is from Athens. Like Cagle, he has name ID from running statewide before. Former US Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R) has held office in Peach State politics, either in the legislature of Congress, for 24 years. He has not made any concrete moves toward a run for governor. At age 67, now is probably the last year he could run for governor. But he may decide he has had his fill of elective politics....
Florida Governor’s race draws a crowd

Florida Governor’s race draws a crowd

By Hastings Wyman – Florida will elect a governor in 2018. Incumbent Rick Scott (R) is term-limited, so there is an open seat, which always draws a crowd. There is already a line of politicos in each party anxious to win the state’s top job. The ferment is especially rampant on the Democratic side, since the last Democrat to win the governor’s office was Lawton Chiles in 1994. There are at least seven Democrats who are getting mentioned as potential candidates, including several who have announced and a number of others who are likely contenders. Three are mayors, which is unusual for a statewide race. The first Democrat to officially enter the race was Andrew Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee. Described as a “rising star” by the Miami Herald, Gillum, 37, gained attention when he spoke at the national Democratic convention last year. “He’s a young, fresh face,” notes Professor Susan MacManus, political scientist at the University of South Florida. Gillum will be the only minority in race, which could be an asset in the primary. He has had some controversiesin Tallahassee. Moreover, no African American has ever won a statewide election in Florida, so there is a school of thought that Gillum is positioning himself to be chosen as a running mate for one of the other gubernatorial candidates. He’s already campaigning, and headed to Broward County last week, the day after he announced. Former US Rep. Gwen Graham has not announced, but she is an early, though not certain, favorite to win the primary. Like her father, former US Senator and governor Bob Graham (D), she is a...
Georgia 6: GOP favored, but not a safe bet

Georgia 6: GOP favored, but not a safe bet

By Hastings Wyman – The special election to replace US Rep. Tom Price (R), who is now Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Trump Administration, will be the first test of the Democrats’ ability to win over Republican voters who did not support Donald Trump last November. The open seat race has attracted 18 candidates, eleven Republicans and five Democrats. The “jungle primary,” which means all candidates, regardless of party, are listed on the same ballot, will be held on April 18; if no candidate receives a majority – highly unlikely with 18 candidates in the race, a runoff will be held June 20. The 6th District covers the northern suburbs of Atlanta and includes parts of Fulton, Cobb and DeKalb Counties. Some two-thirds of its residents were not born in Georgia; it has almost half of the state’s Jewish population and a large Catholic component. Combined with more traditional “country club” Republicans, it is easily the most moderate of the state’s ten Republican districts; it was the only GOP district that did not vote for Trump in the primary, but was won by Marco Rubio. Although it gave an average of 64% of its votes to the GOP’s statewide candidates in 2014, Trump carried it by a very slim one percentage point last November. The strongest Republican candidates include former Secretary of State Karen Handel, who carried the district in her close but losing race for governor in 2010 and has the most name ID. In second place is probably state Sen. Judson Hill, who has been in the Senate for 12 years and represents about...