Voters Guide: SC GOP at a glance

Staff reportsJune 7, 2014 

Mark Sanford

South Carolina’s Tea-Party-before-Tea-Party-was-cool governor from 2003-2011. Term-limited and scandal-ridden, Sanford encouraged then-state Rep. Nikki Haley to run for governor. A Sanford-affiliated political committee aired $400,000 in pro-Haley TV ads before the 2010 GOP primary, when Haley’s campaign was financially strapped. More recently, those close to Sanford say he has, on occasion, been critical of his onetime protege.

Jon Lerner

Sanford’s D.C.-based pollster became a Haley adviser and remains on her campaign payroll.

Tim Pearson

Onetime aide to U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum joined Gov. Sanford’s staff as a communications aide – working for Joel Sawyer, now a Columbia political consultant – after Pennsylvania voters retired Santorum. After Sanford encouraged Haley to run for governor, Pearson left the governor’s office and became Haley’s key adviser and flamethrower, first as chief of staff and now as re-election campaign manager.

Jenny Sanford

Even while separated and later divorced from Mark, Jenny Sanford remained a visible, vocal Haley supporter.

Candidate for governor

Nikki Haley

S.C. governor from 2011 - ??. A back-bench Republican state representative from Lexington who clashed bitterly with House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, Haley overcame questions about her personal and financial ethics to almost win outright the June 2010 GOP nomination for governor. In a runoff, she crushed U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, R-Westminster. In November 2010, she narrowly defeated Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden, becoming the state’s first female and minority governor.

Mitt Romney

Then-state Rep. Haley endorsed Romney in 2008 and in 2012, when the former Massachusetts governor won the GOP nomination. Romney never fared well in South Carolina, however, placing fourth in the state’s Republican primary in 2008 and second in 2012.

Michael Haley

South Carolina’s first “first gentleman” is a captain in the S.C. National Guard.

Robert Livingston

Livingston, the head of the guard and Michael Haley’s ultimate boss, is seeking a second four-year term this year. South Carolina is the only state in the nation to elect the head of its guard. Haley, Livingston and legislators propose instead having the governor appoint the adjutant general, an issue that will be on the November ballot.

Sarah Palin

The former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee came to Columbia to endorse Haley in 2010, seemingly energizing Haley’s then-darkhorse bid for the GOP nomination.

Rob Godfrey, Bryan Stirling and Trey Walker

All three were aides to S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster and/or aides in his failed 2010 bid to capture the GOP nomination for governor. Afterward, they joined the Haley administration as, respectively, spokesman, chief of staff and deputy chief of staff. Today, Godfrey is spokesman for Haley’s re-election campaign and Stirling is her prisons chief. Walker is a lobbyist for the University of South Carolina.

GOP candidates for lieutenant governor

Ray Moore

Former Army chaplain and Tea Partier with no ties to Haley

Mike Campbell

Campbell is running again for a post, having lost the GOP nomination to Andre Bauer in 2002. His father – the late Gov. Carroll Campbell, the patriarch of the modern S.C. GOP – was a champion of restructuring S.C. government, beginning the process in the early ’90s. Haley has sought to assume that mantle and included Campbell in the ceremony, earlier this year, where she signed the law establishing a governor-led Department of Administration to part some of the duties from the abolished state Budget and Control Board.

Carroll Campbell

Governor of South Carolina, 1987-1995; congressman, 1979-1987; legislator, 1971-1978

Mike Huckabee

The former Arkansas governor, who placed second in the 2008 S.C. GOP presidential primary, has endorsed Campbell. “I’d charge hell with a water pistol for the Campbell family.”

Pat McKinney

The retired real estate developer was on Haley’s finance and transition committees in 2010. Subsequently, she named him to the State Ports Authority and the board of her charitable foundation, the Original Six. McKinney – tied to the Kiawah real estate fortune and Charlie Way, commerce secretary under Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges – announced he would run for lieutenant governor last year, challenging GOP Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, a Haley foe, in a move widely viewed as encouraged by Haley. However, the subsequent entries of Campbell and McMaster complicated the race for Haley.

Henry McMaster

The former two-term S.C. attorney general placed third in the 2010 GOP primary for governor but quickly endorsed Haley in the Republican runoff, effectively telling the GOP establishment that Haley, who then boasted primarily Tea Party support, was someone they could work with. Subsequently, Haley named him to her transition committee and the State Ports Authority and to co-chair a committee to recommend ethics reforms, a Haley priority.

Richard Quinn

Head of the Columbia political consulting empire commonly referred to as “The Quinndom.” Helped U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona in his S.C. primary bids in 2000, a loss, and 2008, a win. In 2012, Quinn advised former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman in his abortive S.C. primary bid. Ran McMaster’s two successful campaigns for attorney general and his unsuccessful campaign for the GOP nomination for governor in 2010. Also, a close adviser to Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham – who, in turn, has advised Gov. Haley – and Lt. Gov. McConnell, recently named president of the College of Charleston. Quinn’s son, Rick Quinn, is a member of the S.C. House and former House majority leader.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

S.C. Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston

GOP candidates for superintendent of education

Amy Cofield

The Lexington teacher-turned-lawyer traces her ties to Haley to day care; their children attended the same center. Cofield also volunteered in Haley’s upstart bid for the S.C. House.

Molly Spearman

The onetime state representative who now heads the S.C. Association of School Administrators played a role in Haley’s 2013-2014 rollout of her education agenda, a move that, at least politically, has blunted a traditional Democratic appeal to S.C. voters.

Sally Atwater

Educator and widow of legendary GOP operative Lee Atwater, known for his scorched-earth tactics. (Atwater helped elect Carroll Campbell to Congress by convincing another candidate to question the Jewish faith of Democrat Max Heller, who fled Nazi-held Austria before World War II. Atwater also helped elect George H. W. Bush president, in part by running the infamous Willie Horton TV ads.)

Meka Childs

Under Gov. Sanford, Childs, a onetime teacher, was educator adviser. After Sanford left office, she joined the state Department of Education as deputy superintendent under Republican Superintendent Mick Zais. Zais has endorsed Childs.

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