The Buzz

There’s a surge in women running for office. Is it happening in SC?

For the first time in 2016, SC elected four women members to the state Senate – Katrina Shealy, Margie Bright Matthews, Mia McLeod and Sandy Senn.
For the first time in 2016, SC elected four women members to the state Senate – Katrina Shealy, Margie Bright Matthews, Mia McLeod and Sandy Senn. Tim Dominick

2018 is shaping up to be a big year for women in politics. But will the national trend hit South Carolina?

A new study shows a surge in the number of women running for political office next year.

The number of women running for the U.S. House and Senate is double what it was in 2016, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. The number of women running for governor is almost triple what it was in 2014.

Nationwide, those numbers are credited to a backlash by women to the election of President Donald Trump despite multiple allegations of sexual assault aired during the campaign.

In South Carolina, women are making a strong showing in races for state office and Congress. But several are not blaming Trump. Instead, they are praising him.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton has played up her Trump-like outsider status, even praising controversial Trump adviser Steve Bannon on the campaign trail.

Not to be outdone, Gov. Henry McMaster named Greenville businesswoman and self-proclaimed “Trump girlPamela Evette as his running mate for the 2018 election – sparking speculation that other candidates for governor would have to follow suit and name women as running mates.

In Charleston’s 1st District in Congress, state Rep. Katie Arrington is running against incumbent U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford in the GOP primary. Arrington says Sanford has been too critical of Trump.

Meanwhile, state Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, R-Saluda – the only woman currently in statewide office and another Trump supporter – could seek a second term.

There are some S.C. women running for office who are critical of the president.

Democrats Annabelle Robertson and Mary Geren, for example, are planning to run for Congress in the 2nd and 3rd districts, respectively, facing (male) Republican incumbents Jeff Duncan and Joe Wilson, both pro-Trump.

South Carolina’s women candidates are already off to a flying start compared to 2016.

That year, only two women ran for federal or statewide office in the Palmetto State.

Former state Rep. Jenny Horne lost to Sanford in a GOP primary, while Republican Laura Sterling lost in the 6th District congressional race to U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn.

In 2014, S.C. women were more active as candidates.

Besides victories by Spearman and then-Gov. Nikki Haley, Ginny Deerin ran for secretary of state and lost, Joyce Dickerson ran against Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and lost, and Barbara Jo Mullins and Gloria Bromell Tinubu both lost bids for Congress.

Eight other women ran in party primaries for statewide or congressional offices that year – six of them in a hard-fought race for the education post that Spearman won.

It’s not yet clear how 2018 will shape up at the S.C. State House, which ranks 47th nationwide in the number of women in the Legislature.

In 2016, 29 women ran for the S.C. House and Senate, and 22 won.

So far this year, women have been successful in special elections to the State House.

State Reps. Wendy Brawley of Richland and Rosalyn Henderson Myers of Spartanburg both won races this year, succeeding men in the S.C. House. Early next year, Nancy Mace and Cindy Boatwright of Charleston and Ashley Trantham of Greenville have a chance to add to the number of women legislators in elections set for January.

Scott and taxes

One S.C. lawmaker will have a pivotal voice on tax reform.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-N. Charleston, was named Thursday to the conference committee negotiating the final version of the GOP’s tax reform plan. The proposal will be voted on by the House and Senate sometime before the end of the year, if congressional Republicans can keep to schedule.

Scott was one of 51 Republicans who voted to approve the Senate version of the tax plan. He now will have a say in how differences between that bill and the House-passed version are reconciled.

GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called Scott one of the “core four” working on the bill for the Senate, along with U.S. Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Pat Toomey, R-Pa.; and John Thune, R-S.D.

“I want to thank the majority leader for the opportunity to continue working on our tax reform package that will help so many hardworking American families,” Scott said. “I have said from the beginning that my goal is to help families keep more of their paychecks at home, and to ensure that the jobs of the 21st century are created right here in America.”

Critics say the GOP proposals add to the deficit, raise taxes on many individuals to cut taxes for companies, and cut or eliminate the inheritance tax, an issue only for the ultra-rich.