In the 2018 gubernatorial race, the governor and lieutenant governor will run as a joint ticket, a new development in South Carolina election history. And if the prognosticators have their way, the GOP ticket could feature U.S. Sen. Tim Scott as the nominee for governor and U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy as the lieutenant governor.
While many balked at the suggestion that the duo would join forces — after all, Scott just won re-election to a six-year term in the Senate — the stars might be aligning.
Today at Trump Tower, Gov. Nikki Haley had a face-to-face meeting with Donald Trump, who, word has it, wants her on his cabinet.
Haley is far from a Trump supporter — in fact, she posted a “bless your heart” tweet earlier this year that the anti-Trump crowd cheered. So the move is something of a surprise.
If Haley accepts a post in the Trump administration, current Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster will become governor.
McMaster has long been rumored to be eyeing another run at the governor’s office following his 2010 bid when he lost to Haley, then a little-know state legislator, in the GOP primary.
During that race political operative and website operator Will Folks of FITSNews claimed he engaged in an “inappropriate physical relationship” with Haley. A second accusation came from Larry Marchant, another South Carolina political mover and shaker. Eventually, Folks detailed one alleged encounter in what was supposed to be a then in-development book. That book never surfaced.
At the time, many refused to believe the claims, while others in Palmetto State political circles have speculated the entire episode was a coordinated smear to tarnish Haley, a stunt to boost Haley’s popularity or a case of Statehouse boasting that progressed from a barstool rumor to a perceived truth.
Regardless, Haley won the 2010 race and was re-elected in 2014. Since then, her stock increased in value for her handling of the 2015 1,000-year storm crisis and the deaths of the Emanuel Nine, as well as her call to remove the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds.
In the event that McMaster becomes governor, a position he has long sought, the 69-year-old lieutenant governor may be willing to vacate the governor’s seat and make way for Scott, the U.S. Senate’s lone African-American Republican. Scott would be South Carolina’s first black chief executive. The state’s first and only black lieutenant governor, Alonzo J. Ransie, served for two years during Reconstruction.
As for Gowdy, the Spartanburg representative currently has his plate full. His press secretary, Amanda Gonzalez, says, “Right now Rep. Gowdy is focused on continuing his work in the House. He is likely to be on four committees this year and the House has a robust legislative agenda which begins immediately.”
However, when it comes to Gowdy’s friend Tim Scott, Gonzalez says, “Rep. Gowdy believes Tim Scott is a unique kind of leader, and he looks forward to seeing what the future holds for him.”
Former Democratic lieutenant governor candidate, and current CNN contributor, Bakari Sellers doesn’t put any stock in the rumors that Haley will leave office to join Trump, tweeting, “I personally think
@nikkihaley is meeting with the PEOTUS as a courtesy. This is a play by @henrymcmaster allies to get her out of state.”
As for Haley, the governor is tight-lipped about the details of her meeting with Trump. “Gov. Haley was pleased to meet with President-elect Trump,” Haley Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Godfrey says. “They had a good discussion, and she is very encouraged about the coming administration and the new direction it will bring to Washington.”
Scott has not yet responded to inquiries at this time.