S.C. Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant jumped into the 2018 governor’s race Friday, vowing to fight the “culture of corruption in Columbia” on behalf of S.C. taxpayers.
“Your government lacks the basic integrity to spend your money in your best interest,” the anti-tax, anti-abortion Anderson Republican said.
Bryant’s announcement follows months of speculation he would join Gov. Henry McMaster, former DHEC chief Catherine Templeton and former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill in the GOP primary.
Bryant was a limited-government voice in the state Senate for nearly a dozen years before becoming lieutenant governor in January. His popularity with the GOP’s Tea Party wing and evangelical bases make a runoff in next year’s GOP primary more likely.
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Bryant joined a Templeton theme Friday, vowing to weed out State House corruption – hinting at a years-long investigation now targeting McMaster’s former political consultant.
“The government needs to be returned to the taxpayer,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s not. It belongs to the special interests and cronies.”
Bryant has some fundraising to do before he catches up with his GOP primary opponents. Earlier this month, he opened a campaign account for the 2018 governor’s race, depositing $25.
Incumbent McMaster has raised nearly $1.8 million. Templeton, from Mount Pleasant, has raised nearly $1.5 million.
Bryant expects to get a $100,000 boost when he transfers donations from his campaign account for lieutenant governor. He also said he plans to “put a significant amount” of his own money into the race “because we’re getting in so late.” He would not say how much.
No Democrats have announced for governor.