Caretaker Governor Henry McMaster is having a modern “identity crises.” Sometimes, he wants South Carolinians to think he’s a southern Donald Trump. Other times, he wants to identify as a female Indian-American (Nikki Haley). Actually, of course, he’s neither. He IS, in fact, what he is; a good ole’ boy politician embedded in a State House landscape dominated by an 87-year-old senator from Florence.
McMaster repeatedly reminds us that President Trump has endorsed his candidacy for governor, a job he inherited when Nikki Haley was tapped to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Trump’s popularity in South Carolina is unquestioned (see also Mark Sanford). McMaster, then Lt. Governor, endorsed candidate Trump in the 2016 GOP primary race (after initially supporting home state Senator Lindsey Graham).
With Trump’s blessing, McMaster wants voters to believe he is Trumpian, though there is little reason to believe it. Oh, he’s taken a few actions that are in line with the President’s policies, but they are meaningless gestures intended to do no more than LOOK good.
Banning sanctuary cities? Please. Is that really an issue in South Carolina? Even if it were, McMaster would be powerless to do anything about it.
Sending the national guard to the border with Mexico? Good grief! A nine (9) person crew out of Greenville. More pandering to the electorate.
He vetoed the gas tax increase. Yep, but he knew very well that it would be over-ridden. If he DIDN’T know that, his familiarity with the state legislature is less than pretty much every voter in the state.
Donald Trump is known for his loyalty to those loyal to him. His endorsement of Henry McMaster is nothing more than a political quid pro quo.
And then there are the Nikki Haley references and those instances in which McMaster conveniently left out his predecessor’s name. Henry talks about working with Governor Haley to co-opt her accomplishments as his own. But, when talking about new jobs and other economic metrics, he conveniently fails to mention that those successes are the effects of Haley’s work promoting the state and recruiting industry. McMaster is as much a beneficiary as the rest of the citizens with about as much contribution to it.
Henry McMaster, like so many other elected officials in Columbia, is also beholding to two very powerful men: Richard Quinn and Hugh Leatherman. McMaster was a decades-long client of consultant, king-maker and corrupt political player Richard Quinn. That name is now well known because of the corruption probe still underway.
The Governor has tried to distance himself from Quinn’s orbit since indictments against Quinn and his son, former state representative Rick Quinn (“former” because of a plea agreement in his part of the corruption investigation). But it’s too late. South Carolina recognizes the Quinn Taint and understands that such a long, close and ingrained relationship as that with Henry McMaster is, at best, questionable. Even if McMaster was pristine, you can’t mix clean water with dirty water and get clean water.
That dirty water is being poured on the airwaves as McMasters’ campaign – or someone on his behalf – spews lies about his competition’s stand on issues such as abortion and gun rights. SOMEone learned well as Quinn’s knee. As with all those of the McMaster/Quinn genre, truth is expendable.
And then there is Hugh Leatherman. The most powerful person in state government, Leatherman is the classic RINO – Republican in Name Only. A Democrat, Leatherman switched to the GOP when it became electorally necessary. His open collusion with the Democrat caucus in the Senate is testimony to his true political self. As President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Leatherman decides who gets what committee assignments. He’s also Chairman of the Finance Committee, the most muscular group in the Senate. With that gavel, Leatherman controls the state’s checkbook, and with it, senators.
Nothing goes through, gets passed or approved or even recognized in the South Carolina Senate without Hugh Leatherman’s approval. The great illusion in the Senate is members advocating or introducing bills that are counter to what Leatherman (and his Democrat colleagues) want. Such “rebellion” is allowed only because Leatherman knows it will not pass. That gives the proposing Senator the appearance of “bucking the special interests” when, in fact, (s)he is doing nothing more than pandering. That magic trick also goes for vetoing a gas tax that is certain to be overridden.
No, Henry McMaster is no Donald Trump. Trump isn’t a puppet of an in-bred, corrupt “consultant,” nor is he being dictated to by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel or Speaker Paul Ryan. On the contrary. What South Carolinians like about Trump is that HE dictates to the legislature and makes demands upon the Senate and the House.
Trump’s unquestioned economic successes (America’s economic successes) and his foreign policy triumphs are the product not of the usual political system, but by innovative, common sense approaches to problems.
That’s also what makes John Warren the better candidate for the Republican nomination for governor. Warren, like Trump, knows that a business approach to governance is not counterproductive, as Democrats and liberals contend, but it is the most logical and fair approach. Warren’s and Trump’s DNA are coded with profit-and-loss molecules. Customer satisfaction, quality of product, cost factors and fair negotiation are in their blood. As we know far too well, these are viruses in the body politic.
McMaster likes to crow about not firing a winning coach, but he is not a winning coach. South Carolina is at the bottom of the country in education and ranks 41st in health care. We are 41st in crime and corrections, 39th in opportunity and 33rd in infrastructure.
We should do better. We deserve better. We can be better. But better will not come if we keep doing the same thing. Better will not come if we keep electing the same political dinosaurs. Better will not come if we continue dipping into the same pit of politicians and think that THIS TIME, it will be different.
If you like Donald Trump, vote for the man who is the most LIKE Donald Trump.
If you like Nikki Haley, vote for the candidate who is the most LIKE Nikki Haley.
If you want better, vote for the man without the puppet strings.
If you think you and the rest of South Carolina deserves better, vote for the man who thinks better.
If you want to put special interest consultants out of business and if you want to neutralize the dictatorial power of Hugh Leatherman and his cronies; vote for John Warren.