S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster raised $160,250 in one day for his 2018 bid to keep his new job, according to a campaign filing.
The fundraising haul came to light as McMaster is easing into running the state.
In his first public comments since being sworn in two weeks ago, McMaster doubled-down Wednesday on any gas-tax increase to repair the state’s crumbling roads, calling a tax hike a “last resort.”
But, talking briefly with reporters after meeting with his cabinet, the Richland Republican revealed nothing more about what positions he will take on the big issues facing the state.
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McMaster has a long way to go in fund-raising to compete for the state’s highest office.
McMaster’s predecessor, Republican Gov. Nikki Haley of Lexington, spent $8.5 million on her 2014 re-election campaign. Her Democratic challenger, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Kershaw, spent $2.6 million.
McMaster’s fundraising report, filed earlier this month, includes 70 contributions. All were made on Jan. 27, three days after McMaster took office, including 29 donations from businesses and political action committees. Twenty-eight contributions were for the $3,500 maximum that a donor can give in an election cycle.
McMaster had a reception at his house two days earlier, a day after he was sworn in as governor, following Haley’s resignation to join the Trump Administration.
Among the new governor’s supporters are David Wilkins, a former S.C. House speaker and U.S. ambassador to Canada, Charleston attorney Bart Daniel and Columbia attorney Leighton Lord.
Michael Brenan and Pamela Lackey, state presidents for BB&T and AT&T, respectively, also gave to McMaster.
Two-thirds of McMaster’s haul came from S.C. donors. But donations also came from Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia.
McMaster faces a primary fight.
Republican Yancey McGill, a former S.C. lieutenant governor, was the first candidate to start raising money for the 2018 race.
The former Democratic state senator from Kingstree has raised $329,000, including $91,316 in the last three months of 2016, according to his most recent state campaign finance filings.
McGill had nearly $150,000 on hand as of the beginning of the new year.
Catherine Templeton of Charleston, a former S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control chief, also has filed a campaign report indicating that she plans to run for the GOP nomination, giving herself $3,500.
McMaster on gas tax
On Wednesday, McMaster said again that he did not favor raising taxes, which he told House Republicans on Tuesday, The State reported.
“We should not raise taxes on anybody or anything except as a last resort,” McMaster said, meeting with reporters for about three minutes after holding his first Cabinet meeting.
Asked whether the state has reached the point of a “last resort,” McMaster said, “We must examine all sources, all facts and make a decision as to the best way to improve the roads. But raising taxes is the absolute last resort, only when we’re in desperate straits.”
Asked by a reporter, McMaster did not say whether he would veto a gas tax increase.