The 2018 South Carolina governor’s race has been heated, with several Republican candidates gunning for incumbent Gov. Henry McMaster in the GOP primary.
His top rival just threw gas on the fire, and some prominent S.C. Democrats have noticed.
Catherine Templeton has been aggressive in branding herself as a political outsider and the best option to fix the “corruption” in Columbia. It is an attempt to move to the right of McMaster and the other Republican candidates, while courting conservative voters.
The Charleston attorney came down strong on a wedge issue Wednesday, to bolster her standing.
Never miss a local story.
Templeton was critical of Columbia leaders who took the first step Tuesday toward banning the use of controversial bump stocks, trigger cranks and similar devices that attach to guns.
“Columbia politicians are completely out of touch with our conservative values. You come for my guns, and I’ll come for your seat!” Templeton posted on Twitter, with a link to The State’s article on the City Council vote.
The four City Council members present at Tuesday’s meeting – Mayor Steve Benjamin, Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine, Councilman Sam Davis and Councilman Howard Duvall – voted unanimously in favor of the ordinance. It will require one final council vote to become law.
McMaster is in Washington this week, and hasn’t publicly responded to Templeton. But a few Democrats have, including prominent political pundit Bakari Sellers.
The former South Carolina representative, who spends his time these days as an attorney in Columbia and as a commentator on CNN, was quick to point out Templeton won’t be running against Benjamin, or any of the council members.
“Templeton announces a run for Columbia Mayor?” Sellers joked in a retweet of Templeton’s post, which she likely intended as more of a threat to endorse candidates for those political seats, or campaign strongly against the incumbents.
But Sellers’ levity was short lived, as he cited gun law issues that have impacted South Carolina.
“Alternatively she doesn’t know how gun loopholes have killed South Carolinians,” Sellers wrote.
Sellers, who usually saves his harshest condemnations for President Donald Trump, might have been alluding to Dylann Roof. The convicted killer of nine black people at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston used the “private sale” loophole to get the murder weapon. There are also issues with the “gun show” loophole.
In addition to Sellers, another S.C. Democrat challenged Templeton’s tweet.
Austin Jackson, the Young Democrats of South Carolina secretary and vice chair for SCDP Labor/Progressive Caucus, said Templeton’s guns were safe in her possession.
“No one wants your guns, Catherine. Or your bump stocks. We’re saying don’t slap them together while you’re in Columbia,” Jackson wrote in a retweet.
He proceeded to up the rhetoric, responding to Templeton’s general challenge with a specific one of his own.
“Columbia isn’t conservative. We would hand you and any candidate you endorse their own (behind),” Jackson tweeted.
The issue with bump stocks, and trigger cranks, is that the firearm attachments that can turn legal guns into weapons that simulate illegal, fully automatic gunfire.
Columbia’s proposed ordinance would make it illegal to attach bump stocks or trigger cranks to any guns within the city, except by military or law enforcement personnel. It would still be legal to own those devices, so long as they are stored in separate containers from firearms.
“I’m thankful the city of Columbia is taking a leading role in addressing this issue,” Benjamin said Tuesday. “I hope we will find other cities, other states and members of Congress of the United States addressing this serious loophole.”