|| by Will Galloway ||
Columbia – The candidates for Governor of South Carolina released their fundraising totals for the final quarter of 2017 yesterday, offering a window into where the race stands.
The most recent public poll in the race indicates that incumbent Governor Henry McMaster is the prohibitive favorite in the race, polling at 39.92%, followed by Lt. Governor Kevin Bryant at 11.05%, former DHEC Director Catherine Templeton at 7.92%, and former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill at 3.01%.
The money race seems to solidify McMaster’s status as frontrunner, as he raised just over $1,000,000 in the last quarter of 2018, with over $2.5 million in the bank, following a Greenville fundraiser with President Trump. Recent polling has also indicated a double digit lead for the former Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and US Attorney. McMaster also named Pamela Evette, an upstate businesswoman, as his running mate during the last quarter.
Templeton continues to post strong fundraising numbers this quarter, raising $721,000 with $2.3 million on hand. Unfortunately for Templeton, her poll numbers collapsed from 21% to 7.92% and she lost the second place slot to Bryant. With $2.3 million in her war chest, she can be expected to spend very heavily to regain that ground, and has already demonstrated that she will be hammering McMaster on his longstanding relationship to the political consulting firm Richard Quinn and Associates. Several Quinn clients have been indicted on corruption charges, and the younger Quinn has entered into a guilty plea. McMaster cut ties with Quinn last year.
Kevin Bryant received some good news in the form of the poll that showed him in second place, but he was a distant third in the fundraising race. Bryant raised a paltry $45,815 this quarter, and has around $255,000 in cash on hand, most of which came from Bryant’s personal funds. As an upstate social conservative with fairly high name recognition, but it seems unlikely that he has the cash resources to compete with McMaster and Templeton.
Bryant can take some solace in the fact that he did out-raise one of his competitors. Yancey McGill pulled in only $23,600 last quarter, and had a meager $2,000 on hand. At the moment, McGill does not have sufficient funds to even pay the filing fee to officially become a candidate for Governor.
The one wild card in the race is upstate businessman and Marine veteran John Warren, who opened an account to explore a bid and put $50,000 of his own money into it, but has made no formal declaration and has raised no additional funds. Warren will likely need to act fast if he plans to enter the race as a credible candidate.
Conventional wisdom would hold that State Representative James Smith would be on the fast track to his party’s nomination, but his opponent Charleston businessman Phil Noble appears ready to put up a fight against Smith.
A recent poll showed Smith trailing Noble 25.47% to 20.38%, and Noble just received the endorsement of the only democratic Senator in the deep south, Alabama’s Doug Jones. It is unclear, however, how much weight this will carry against the Biden-backed Smith.
Smith, however, has a significant financial advantage, raising $548,000 (with $370,000 cash on hand) compared to Noble’s $101,000 (with $64,000 cash on hand). Because both candidates have low name recognition, this cash advantage will be a huge plus as the candidates introduce themselves to democratic voters.