Campbell plans to stay in SC runoff race against McMaster for lieutenant governor

ccope@thestate.comJune 13, 2014 

COPE, CASSIE

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A day after Charleston developer Pat McKinney dropped out of the Republican race for lieutenant governor, Mike Campbell said he is not going anywhere.

Campbell, son of the late Republican Gov. Carroll Campbell, will face former S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster in the June 24 runoff for the GOP nomination.

“We’re in this race to stay ... and to win it,” Campbell said.

In Tuesday’s GOP primary, McMaster finished 20 percentage points ahead of both McKinney and Campbell.

A recount had been scheduled to determine whether McKinney or Campbell would advance to face McMaster in the runoff. But McKinney withdrew Thursday, leaving the runoff slot to Campbell.

Campbell said Friday that McMaster’s lead in Tuesday’s primary was irrelevant.

“This is a new race so you can’t really focus too much on the percentage points of what happened last time as opposed to the race that we’re now in,” Campbell said, adding voter turnout in the runoff will be much lower.

Richard Quinn, a spokesman for McMaster, said internal polling of voters who plan to cast ballots in the runoff shows McMaster with a comfortable lead over Campbell – 55 percent to 27 percent.

McMaster will continue to try to win over voters, Quinn said. “We’re not taking anything for granted. We’re going to campaign hard.”

Campbell said he was proud of what his campaign has accomplished so far with limited resources.

Going into the June 10 primary, Campbell had about $22,000 available to spend, according to pre-primary campaign filings. McMaster had almost five times that amount – about $100,000.

Campbell said his campaign plans to air a new TV commercial soon. He also said some of McKinney’s financial contributors now are supporting him.

McMaster claims the same thing, releasing a list of former McKinney supporters who now are supporting the former attorney general. The list includes former S.C. Gov. James Edwards, former U.S. Rep. John Napier and Billy Wilkins, former chief judge of the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Former S.C. Republican Party chairwoman Karen Floyd said Friday Campbell should quit the race.

“It is in the South Carolina Republican Party’s best interest for unity to occur and to get behind Henry McMaster, knowing that the general election should be the party focus,” Floyd said.

However, current GOP chairman Matt Moore disagreed.

“Voters have a constitutional right to be heard, and we should not silence them,” Moore said. “It is their election.”

Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657.

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