More Madness from the Palmetto State
It's been quite an election cycle so far for the South Carolina Republican Party.
First you had the Mark Sanford psycodrama, resulting in a failed impeachment effort and lots of material for late-night comics and Democrats.
Then there was the speech by Lt. Gov. (and gubernatorial candidate) Andre Bauer comparing beneficiaries of the school lunch program to "stray animals."
And throughout it all, you had Sen. Jim DeMint ranging around the country intervening in Republican primaries to promote a rightward lurch in the GOP, while his Senate colleague, Lindsay Graham, appears to have been intimidated into curtailing cooperation with Democrats on climate change and immigration legislation.
And now with the gubernatorial primary just two weeks away, the front-runner, arch-conservative state Rep. Nikki Haley, has been hit with allegations of an illicit affair by a former Sanford (and Haley) staffer who is now a self-styled "bad boy" political blogger.
The blogger in question, Will Folks, has a rather sketchy reputation, in part because he left the governor's staff in 2005 after being convicted of domestic violence. Haley, who is married (as she was at the time of the alleged "inappropriate physical relationship") is angrily denying the whole thing, while her friend Sarah Palin has joined other supporters in attacking the allegations as a dirty trick engineered by her political enemies.
Now the web site that published Folks' statement on the affair is rather broadly hinting that it has years of emails and text messages between the two that it will make available if Haley has the guts to sue for libel.
All this is occurring just as a new PPP poll (conducted before this story broke) shows Haley opening up a big lead over the GOP gubernatorial field, though likely heading for a runoff.
Haley had started the race at the back of the pack, with the unwelcome reputation as Mark Sanford's protege. But early backing from out-of-state conservatives (e.g., Erick Erickson of RedState) and then endorsements from Jenny Sanford and Palin had helped earn her the prized Most Conservative mantle in the race.
And now all this.
There's no telling how the latest Palmetto State saga will turn out, but it could be good news for one of the two Democrats (Vincent Sheehan and Jim Rex) in the gubernatorial race. I mean, really, how much craziness from one political party in one state can voters accept?