The latest campaign filings show, at least financially, a Republican challenger to incumbent Gov. Henry McMaster appears to be holding her own in the fundraising game.
Catherine Templeton’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign reported the former state health and environmental chief had raised $750,000 in the quarter that ended June 30. The haul was just behind the $806,000 McMaster’s campaign claimed in the same period. McMaster also has slightly more money in the bank from previous cycles.
McMaster became governor after then-Gov. Nikki Haley stepped down to become United Nations ambassador in January. Prior to that, he served two years as lieutenant governor and eight years as attorney general. Templeton was appointed by Haley to lead the state’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation in 2011 before she was tapped to head the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) later in the year. She left the agency in 2015.
Meanwhile, a third declared candidate former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill reported raising just $34,000 from April to June. He spent $123,000 in the same cycle. He has $101,500 on hand. McGill is a former Democratic state senator who stepped down after 26 years representing Williamsburg County to become lieutenant governor for a few months in 2014. He switched to the Republican Party prior to this most recent campaign.
Templeton’s support comes from a number of Haley appointees, including Santee Cooper board chair Leighton Lord, III, former Board of Economic Advisors chairman Chad Walldorf, and current DHEC board member R. Kenyon Wells.
The Charleston Post & Courier reports current Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant is considering a run for the state’s top office himself. The 2018 election will be the first election under a 2012 constitutional amendment that has the candidaye for governor pick his or her choice as a lieutenant governor running mate. Previously the office was elected separately. Bryant has raised $101,000 as of June 30, despite not formally declaring his candidacy for any race yet. He gave up his state Senate seat representing Anderson County to take the current job after McMaster became governor.
As of yet, no Democrats have yet announced a run for the position. The party has not held the office since Jim Hodges was defeated in his 2002 reelection campaign. McGill was the last Democrat to hold a statewide office, although he only filled in after then-Lt Gov. Glenn McConnell resigned to become the College of Charleston’s president. A Democrat has not won a statewide election in South Carolina since Jim Rex was elected education superintendent in 2006.