Catherine Templeton is selling herself as a "conservative outsider" in the race to be South Carolina's next governor. But a new ad from Gov. Henry McMaster's campaign is taking aim at the Republican challenger by going after her Democratic "friends."
In the new commercial, entitled "Friends," Templeton is called out for voting for a Democrat for governor in 2010 and for receiving the support of an organization that previously opposed President Donald Trump.
"Templeton says she voted against Nikki Haley because Nikki's Democratic opponent was her friend," a voice-over in the ad says.
The Mount Pleasant labor attorney has tied herself to Haley on the campaign trail, after serving in two Cabinet posts under the former GOP governor. But Templeton told The State in October she voted for Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden in the 2010 governor's race over Haley, then a little-known state representative.
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Templeton said she supported then-U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett in the GOP primary, who finished runner-up to Haley, but flipped to Sheheen afterward in the general election. Templeton said she did vote for Haley in 2014, after serving in her administration for four years.
The ad also says "the same group that spent $7 million trying to defeat Donald Trump is giving Templeton millions of dollars in support."
That's a reference to the American Future Fund, a conservative advocacy group that spent $1 million on an ad campaign supporting Templeton.
The same group also supported U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the 2016 GOP presidential primary. Templeton originally supported former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in that race.
The "Friends" ad also highlights Trump's endorsement of McMaster, who endorsed the billionaire businessman before the S.C. primary. "We know who Henry McMaster's friends are," the ad says.
In response to the ad, Templeton campaign manager R.J. May III said McMaster is "the only governor in America who has gone negative before his challengers," showing "how corrupt, desperate and full of yesterday he really is."
May noted Templeton was chosen by Haley to run two state agencies and was interviewed by Trump for a job in his administration after his election.
"The McMaster attacks are exactly what we’ve come to expect from career politicians who will say or do anything to keep power," May said.
"Of course the Templeton campaign has heartburn from us telling the truth about Catherine's record," said McMaster spokeswoman Caroline Anderegg.
At the same time, McMaster's campaign has released a second ad, touting job growth under his tenure, his support for cutting funding for Planned Parenthood, setting new requirements to qualify for Medicaid and his support for banning sanctuary cities, which, critics note, do not exist in South Carolina.
Combined, the McMaster campaign will spend six figures on the two ad buys, his campaign said.