Let’s all welcome Henry McMaster to the 2010 gubernatorial contest. Or, if you won’t, I will.
I like Henry. For a guy who was our fourth choice for attorney general back in 2002 (we endorsed Jon Ozmint in the primary, Larry Richter in the runoff and Steve Benjamin in the general), I think he has turned out very well. This is partly by comparison with his predecessor, but on the whole I think Henry’s done well.
Then there was the fact that Henry backed John McCain through thick and thin. In the darkest days of his quest for the GOP nomination, when everybody was saying he should quit, Henry was proud to stand up and support the senator from Arizona. And since McCain was to me the only guy in the GOP contest worth considering, that counts for a lot with me.
For me, those two considerations — the job he’s done as AG, and his sticking with McCain when almost no one else would — more than cancel the qualms I had about Henry back when he was best known as a party chairman who regularly traded partisan silliness with his counterpart Dick Harpootlian.
At this point, Henry seems clearly the strongest candidate on the GOP side — especially after my interview with Gresham Barrett early on gave me the strong impression that he hasn’t even thought about what he would do as governor, and nothing I’ve heard since has disspelled that.
Not that Henry is chock full o’ specifics yet, either. And this seems to be an occupational hazard for Republicans. They know they have to live down the disaster that Sanford has been, but they are fearful of alienating the support that the governor continues to enjoy, bizarrely, among the GOP rank-and-file (which is to say, among Republicans who don’t actually have to deal with the guy, which is always where his greatest support has lain).
So they tiptoe. So we have Henry, in the video above, speaking vaguely, and awkwardly, about how “there’s been too much dishonesty and too many scandals…,” implying he’d get us away from all that. But what dishonesty? Which scandals? What is it that YOU, Henry McMaster disapprove of? Let us know where you stand. We all disapprove of “scandals” and “dishonesty,” but tell us where you see those bad things, so we can decide whether we approve of YOU.
The State seems to believe the “scandals” Henry refers to have to do with Sanford. But I don’t know that — not until Henry SAYS that’s what he means. And if so, he needs to go further: Which aspects of the governor’s behavior does he find scandalous? His affair? His use of the state plane as a personal taxi when he’s telling state employees to double up in hotel rooms? How about the fact that as governor he does not govern, in the sense of taking responsibility for the course of our state? Is that scandalous? And if so, why?
Beyond that, his initial platform seems remarkably like that of uber-Democrat Dwight Drake: Jobs. Again, not exactly a controversial position, not a defining trait, not a chisel that will help sculpt a clear image in the voter’s mind.
So I go into this inclined to like Henry, but wanting to hear more.