South Carolina

Here comes the second chapter of the SC GOP presidential race

Scott Pyle (left) holds signs that went viral with his son, Dylan, at the NCAA National Championship football game in January in Arizona. Pyle is running for the S.C. Senate for a seat in Horry County.
Scott Pyle (left) holds signs that went viral with his son, Dylan, at the NCAA National Championship football game in January in Arizona. Pyle is running for the S.C. Senate for a seat in Horry County. Photo courtesy of Scott Pyle

The S.C. GOP presidential primary was a month ago, but the fight in the Palmetto State is not over.

At least one campaign is lining up consultants to get friendly S.C. delegates elected to this summer’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

With Marco Rubio officially pulling out of the race for the GOP nomination, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has endorsed Ted Cruz for the nomination. Haley said she does not see a path to the presidency for John Kasich, despite his Tuesday win

All 50 S.C. GOP delegates must vote for primary winner Donald Trump on the convention’s first ballot. But if no candidate wins a majority in first-round voting, the S.C. delegates can vote for any candidate in subsequent rounds.

That gives campaigns that are able to get their backers into delegates’ seats the chance to sway the nomination in subsequent votes.

With a chance of the first brokered convention in decades, Charleston political consultant Andrew Boucher said he and his partner in RightVoter, Mike Biundo, have been hired by John Kasich’s campaign to get S.C. supporters of the Ohio governor named as convention delegates.

Biundo was a senior adviser to former GOP hopeful Rand Paul’s 2016 campaign. Boucher was national political director for Rick Santorum’s 2012 presidential campaign.

There was no word last week whether Trump or U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas have hired staffers to get allies named convention delegates in South Carolina. But there is chatter they are looking around.

In South Carolina, 21 delegates will be elected during local meetings next month, three from each of the state’s seven congressional districts. Another 26 delegates will be elected at the state party convention in May.

The other three delegates are S.C. GOP chairman Matt Moore and the state’s two national committee members, Cindy Costa and Glenn McCall.

“I suggest candidates run through to the finish,” Moore said.

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is the ComicCon of conservative politics. Republicans of all ages, from all over America, come dressed in their best - or craziest - to hear panels of conservatism’s brightest minds. We went to C

There is one catch, however, for candidates trying to stack the S.C. delegation in their favor.

S.C. delegates to the Republican National Convention must have been delegates during the state’s GOP convention in May 2015.

Kasich and Cruz can count on some backing from supporters, including state lawmakers, who were S.C. delegates from last year.

Trump does not have that kind of support among last year’s S.C. delegates, said Tony Denny, a Columbia public relations consultant who has been a delegate at Republican national conventions.

The New York billionaire’s only major legislative endorsement came from Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster.

These Senate hopefuls have interesting backstories

After the first three days of filing for state elections next November, a look at three interesting legislative candidates:

▪  Culver Kidd, Senate District 41: The Republican managing 9th Circuit solicitor – who hopes to win the seat being vacated by Charleston Republican Paul Thurmond – is the scion of a famed Georgia political family.

Kidd’s father is Rusty, the only independent in the Georgia General Assembly.

His grandfather, Culver, was a legend in the Legislature. Known as a dealmaker, he brought a Playboy bunny onto the House floor in the 1960s as a joke. He later wore pants made of Crown Royal whiskey cloth bags during a floor speech against drunk driving.

Despite the toll politics took on his family, Kidd, a College of Charleston graduate, said he wants to give back to the community after working in the solicitor’s office for nine years.

“Part of the reason I’m here (in South Carolina) is to get away from it,” Kidd said of his family’s political legacy in Georgia. “If I were there, people would say someone made a call or pulled a string. I always thought I would never do it, run for office. But I have always been public-service minded.”

▪  Scott Pyle, Senate District 33: The owner of a Myrtle Beach financial services company, Pyle is challenging incumbent Horry Republican Luke Rankin in the GOP primary.

But Pyle might be best known for a viral photo from Clemson’s appearance at the NCAA National Championship football game in January. The shot featured Pyle’s son, Dylan, holding a sign, “Sorry Mom, I spent my tuition to be here.”

Pyle is standing next to his son with another sign, “Sorry honey, I let him!”

Clients from across the country called when they saw the photo. “It was all tongue-in-cheek,” Pyle said. “The only thing that would have been better is if Clemson had won.”

Pyle’s viral fame shows the influence of social media in sports – and elections. “If the photo helps unseat a 24-year senator, we’ll take it,” he said.

▪ Robert Ford, Senate District 42: The Democrat wants to regain the seat, representing Charleston and North Charleston, that he vacated in 2013 during a Senate ethics investigation into allegations that he misused campaign money.

Ford later pleaded guilty in state court to misconduct in office, forgery and ethics violations. He was ordered to pay nearly $70,000 in restitution, but is behind on his payments, according to the Associated Press. And he remains on probation, which lasts through 2020.

Now Ford wants to unseat the Democratic lawyer who succeeded him, Marlon Kimpson. Asked for comment, Ford emailed fliers touting his accomplishments during his 20-year tenure in the Senate and calling himself “the real Democrat” in the contest.

Filing continues through March 30.

Meet law professor, John Crangle

John Crangle, state director for the government watchdog group Common Cause, will start teaching a class in the fall at the University of South Carolina’s law school on government ethics law.

Crangle, a USC law school grad, will offer lessons in federal and S.C. ethics laws, and bring in guest speakers from the S.C. State House and Capitol Hill. Part of his class will focus on Operation Lost Trust, the 1990 scandal that rocked the General Assembly, as well as more recent misdeeds, including former S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell’s legal problems.

USC Law School dean Robert Wilcox said the course – the first of its kind that he said he could recall in his three decades at the school – will not be partisan and will provide “a well-rounded perspective of the issues.”

Crangle should have an attentive audience for his class.

One of every five S.C. legislators is an attorney who graduated from USC, he said. “This is a good place to do it.”

Andrew Shain: @AndyShain

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