COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is taking on one of his GOP challengers for drawing support from a group that spent millions trying to keep Donald Trump from becoming president.
A 30-second TV spot launched by the American Future Fund this week calls Republican hopeful Catherine Templeton a reformer who will “take on the politics as usual,” and suggests that McMaster is just “another good ol’ boy.”
McMaster responded with a web video pointing out that this same nonprofit repeatedly criticized candidate Trump, running ads calling him a “phony” who can’t be trusted.
McMaster campaign spokeswoman Caroline Anderegg said she wasn’t surprised by the support for Templeton, who Anderegg said is “known for flip-flopping and twisting the truth.” The McMaster campaign said Wednesday that it’s made a five-figure online buy to boost its video, which was first reported by Breitbart News.
McMaster has opposed the president on off-shore drilling and tariffs among other issues, but often points to their relationship as a boon for South Carolina. As lieutenant governor in early 2016, McMaster was the first statewide-elected official to support Trump’s candidacy. He’s received backing from the president in his search for a first full term, with Trump coming to South Carolina in October to raise money for McMaster and give his official endorsement.
Templeton has said she backs the president’s policies but also frames herself as an outsider new to politics, in contrast to McMaster’s decades heading the state GOP and serving as U.S. attorney and state attorney general. Templeton served then-Gov. Nikki Haley as chief of the state’s labor and public health departments and was courted by the Trump administration for a U.S. Labor Department position.
McMaster and Templeton have been nearly matched in fundraising thus far, with both campaigns having more than $2 million cash on hand in the most recent filings.
In addition to McMaster and Templeton, Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill and Upstate businessman John Warren are seeking the GOP nomination. Democratic candidates include Columbia Rep. James Smith, Charleston businessman Phil Nobel and Florence attorney Marguerite Willis.
The two-week filing period for state campaigns officially opens on Friday. Party primaries are scheduled June 12.