Warren wins straw poll at Greenville forum

Warren wins straw poll at Greenville forum
May 15 09:28 2018 Print This Article

Republican Gubernatorial candidate John Warren, a Greenville business owner, won the straw poll at the Greenville Tea Party candidates forum Monday. Warren received 75 votes (40%). Lieutenant Governor Kevin Bryant placed second with 58 votes. Each of the approximately 200 conservative activists in attendance was given a paper ballot with the names of all five Republican candidates on it and Undecided and None of the Above options. Governor Henry McMaster, who declined to participate, received only three votes.

The forum was moderated by WORD radio talk show hosts Tara Servatius and Bob McLain at Zen in downtown Greenville. The stage was set with a cutout of a smiling McMaster face in the center chair. Servatius mocked a McMaster radio ad which claims that no state dollars go to Planned Parenthood and that more people are working in South Carolina than ever before, citing the state’s 58% worker participation rate. A House/Senate conference committee meets Tuesday to determine if Planned Parenthood funding remains in the state budget.

The four challengers agreed on most issues, including term limits for legislators (which would require an amendment to the state constitution), the need to fight corruption, restructuring state government, improving vocational education, the right to life for the unborn and registration by party. None of the challengers went after each other. Several went after McMaster’s ties to lobbyist and political consultant Richard Quinn, who has been at the center of the ongoing state corruption probe. Here are some of the highlights from the forum, which was live-streamed by Greenville Tea Party and WORD.

John Warren. Warren is the only Republican candidate who served in the military. A decorated Marine combat veteran, Warren led more than 300 combat missions against Al Queda insurgents in Iraq. He founded Lima One Capital in Greenville, which lends money to real estate investors and now has more than $1 Billion in capital investment. Warren said he would fire the entire board governing state-owned utility Santee-Cooper, which recently squandered $4 Billion in a failed nuclear reactor project. He pointed out that McMaster appointed former Attorney General Charlie Condon, a former Quinn client, as Santee-Cooper Chair. He favors overhauling our state tax system and cutting income and sales tax rates in half. Pointing to a dysfunctional education system, Warren said a major South Carolina corporation has to interview 26 applicants to find one qualified candidate. He pledged to raise money and campaign for opponents of Senate President Hugh Leatherman and other legislators who he views as holding South Carolina back.

Kevin Bryant. A 12-year state Senator from Anderson County and current Lieutenant Governor, Bryant is a pharmacist. He said that the state can realize significant cost savings by establishing a sliding income scale for Medicaid patients. Bryant is the only candidate who called for eliminating the state income tax, offering consumer choice options for utilities and conducting seismic testing offshore to determine if natural gas reservoirs exist there. He called for expanding the state’s school choice program, stating that it would lower the cost of education and improve the quality. Bryant held up a picture of Quinn, calling him “The Godfather.” He said that South Carolina’s government structure, with a dominant legislature, makes it a breeding ground for corruption.

Catherine Templeton. Templeton headed two state agencies under Governor Nikki Haley, the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). She cited her success in fending off a lawsuit involving the federal government and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union, which attempted to block Boeing from opening its aircraft assembly plant in North Charleston. Templeton also pointed to her record of firing bureaucrats and cutting costs in state agencies. She said that putting the Governor in charge of education and roads would improve outcomes. Noting the 66,000 unfilled job openings in the state, she said that more stringent work requirements would trim the state’s welfare roles. She shared a personal story to demonstrate her commitment to the unborn. When pregnant with twins, her doctor said one of the twins would have to be aborted to protect her life. She said that she and her husband Morgan placed the situation in God’s hands, and she gave birth to healthy fraternal twins.

Yancey McGill. A long-time Democrat Senator representing Williamsburg County in the Pee Dee region, McGill switched parties after replacing Glenn McConnell as Lieutenant Governor when McConnell became President of College of Charleston. McGill proposes increasing the homestead property tax exemption from $50,000 to $100,000 for residents 65 and older. He noted that his wife is a retired teacher and that a lot could be done to improve education if administrators would listen to teachers more. Known as a fiscal conservative during his time in the Senate, McGill called for forensic audits in state agencies. He also said that there is plenty of money to maintain our roads and that better management is needed.

McMaster is also skipping the Wednesday Republican candidates forum at College of Charleston, to be moderated by WCIV anchor Dean Stephens. The event will be broadcast live at 7 pm on WCIV, WACH Fox 57 in the Midlands, WPDE in the Myrtle Beach area and WLOS in the Upstate.