SC-Gov, SC-LG: Republican Sen. Tim Scott was just easily re-elected to the Senate, but he’s reportedly considering running to succeed termed-out GOP Gov. Nikki Haley in 2018. Scott himself hasn’t publicly expressed interest, but his office confirmed he wasn’t ruling out the idea last week when they put out a statement saying that “[a]bsolutely no decisions have been made on this matter.” An unnamed source tells the The Post and Courier that Scott is likely to decide by the end of the year.
2018 will be the first time that South Carolina elects its governor and lieutenant governor on the same ticket, and The Post and Courier reports that Rep. Trey Gowdy, a close friend of Scott, is considering running for the number two spot with the senator. Gowdy’s office also didn’t shoot down the report, only saying that the congressman “is focused on continuing his work in the House.”
It’s odd to see a member of Congress considering a campaign for lieutenant governor, which is rarely a particularly powerful job. However, Gowdy hasn’t done much to hide how little he likes being in D.C. In 2015, Louisiana Rep. John Fleming even said that Gowdy was about to retire, and Gowdy’s team didn’t do much to deny that he was thinking about bailing. While Gowdy ended up running and winning re-election in his safely red Spartanburg seat, he definitely seems to be looking for a way out of the House.
Before Scott started flirting with a gubernatorial bid, several other Palmetto State Republicans put their names forward. State House Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope and ex-Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill are both already in. (McGill held the job for a few months when he was a Democrat.) Last week, Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster, who lost the 2010 primary, said that he hoped to run again, though he didn’t declare anything. Wealthy real estate developer Bill Stern also has publicly expressed interest, and says he’d self-fund if he gets in. Last week, Rep. Mick Mulvaney told the The Post and Courier to check back with him in six months, though he admits he’s much more likely to stay in Congress now that the GOP has won the White House.
The State also names state Sen. Tom Davis, former Department of Health and Environmental Control chief Catherine Templeton, and state Attorney General Alan Wilson (the son of Rep. Joe “You Lie!” Wilson) as possible candidates. If Scott gets in, he’ll likely scare out many of these possible candidates, but that’s still a big if.
South Carolina is a conservative state, but a few Democrats expressed interest to The State back in September. State Sen. Marlon Kimpson and ex-state Rep. Bakari Sellers, who lost the 2014 lieutenant governor race 59-41, both said they were considering. State Rep. James Smith, Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela, and state Sen. Gerald Malloy also didn’t rule anything out when asked.