Catherine Templeton isn’t running for governor of South Carolina as a woman, she told a women’s group on Thursday. But being a woman helped her career, she says.
Templeton spoke Thursday – which happened to be International Women’s Day – to a meeting of women in real estate at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
The Mount Pleasant Republican is challenging S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster in June’s GOP primary, a race that also includes Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant of Anderson, former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill of Williamsburg, and Greenville businessman John Warren.
Templeton is one of two women running for S.C. governor this year – attorney Marguerite Willis of Florence is vying with Charleston businessman Phil Noble and state Rep. James Smith of Columbia for the Democratic nomination.
On the campaign trail, the 47-year-old Templeton, who grew up in Lexington, has styled herself as a “conservative outsider.” However, Thursday she talked about how being a woman shaped her outlook as well as her career.
At her first job out of college, “the only reason I got promoted was because I was a woman,” Templeton said.
While working as an inspector at a Jonesville weaving mill – it was the only job she could get with a degree in political economics and philosophy from Wofford College, she joked – her male boss took a meeting with a BMW executive, who happened to be a woman.
“He rounded up all the women and promoted them,” said Templeton, who became a manager in the process.
After graduating from the University of South Carolina law school, Templeton was working for a law firm that was opposing an effort to unionize a Tennessee auto plant. She said she was added to that effort for similar reasons.
A senior attorney “came into the office and said, ‘I need a woman in labor,’ ” Templeton said. “I thought, ‘We also handle sexual harassment, so let’s talk about your words.’ ”
But Templeton said she took the assignment and used it to her advantage. “Because I’m woman, I got to sit at the table that other lawyers wanted to sit at, and I knew enough to be quiet and listen.”
While acknowledging women can see things differently, Templeton also cited her time working with retired U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s education non-profit.
Frequently asked about being the first woman on the Supreme Court, O’Connor always responded the same way, Templeton said. “She said, ‘I hope I was a competent justice,’ and didn’t talk about being a woman.”