Nikki Haley’s progression from backbench bomb-thrower to Establishment figure

Kristin Sosanie over at the state Democratic Party resurrects this from the archives today:

Well, this could be awkward. Today Nikki Haley is holding campaign events with the SC Chamber of Commerce, but take a look at how she slammed them less than four years ago:

‘The state Chamber is a big fan of bailouts and corporate welfare, so it’s no surprise that they would prefer a liberal like Vincent Sheheen over a conservative like Nikki Haley,’ Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said earlier this week, according to the AP.”

Question of the day: Do Nikki Haley and her staff still think the state Chamber is “a big fan of bailouts and corporate welfare.”?

Well, we know that she doesn’t. Or at least, wouldn’t say so now. And that has implications that extend far beyond her relationship with business leadership, and point to why the incumbent is a more formidable opponent for Vincent Sheheen than when she barely squeaked by him four years ago.

That petulant statement from Rob Godfrey was standard operating procedure for the Haley team back then. She was all about being the darling of the Tea Party, the Southern answer to Sarah Palin, “going rogue” by slapping at the Establishment as much as at perceived “liberals.”

She’s learned better since then. The successes of Bobby Hitt’s Commerce Department (for which she can legitimately claim credit, since she chose Bobby) has more than persuaded her that embracing the economic development community is her best path to continued electoral success.

Along with that shift from the fringes to the establishment has come a significant shift in communication style.

I touched on this in a post a couple of days ago, one which y’all seem to have utterly ignored (whine, mutter, moan). That mature, professional, focused op-ed piece was a real departure from the style of the Nikki Haley who threw red meat to the Tea Partiers. It stands 180 degrees from that Godfrey quote four years ago, which accurately reflected the attitudes of the Haley camp at the time.

I urge you to go look at it again. Yes, I know I’m reading a lot into style and tone, but that’s what I do. And I’m telling you, this new mode of expression reflects a strategic shift for Nikki Haley. And this is significant…

4 thoughts on “Nikki Haley’s progression from backbench bomb-thrower to Establishment figure

  1. Doug Ross

    Chamber endorses Haley this time. Sheheen whines about the Chamber supporting big business. Guess what, big business provides the jobs that support small businesses.

    Will The State get on the bandwagon and admit they were wrong like the Chamber did? Or will they back a candidate who will not win?

    “Asked about the chamber’s endorsement of Sheheen four years ago, Columbia banker Mike Brenan, a Haley ally on the chamber’s board and her representative on the state Board of Education, told the Anderson Independent Mail: “We got it wrong.”

    Read more here:

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      But The State wasn’t wrong. And neither was the Chamber.

      My impression watching this from the outside is that Mike Brenan was a dissident voice before, when the Chamber endorsed Sheheen for very good reasons. Now, he apparently has the votes on the board to support his position.

      And, as I said before, that is almost certainly due to the success of Bobby Hitt’s Commerce department. Swing votes on a Chamber board would quite naturally have a strong tendency to follow ecodevo success.

      Before, Brenan was in the minority. Now, Agape’s Scott Middleton is the guy offering the minority opinion:

      Scott Middleton, chief executive officer of Columbia-based Agape Senior, said Sheheen “has proven time and again that he is the type of leader South Carolina needs, one who will put the best interests of the state ahead of politics.”

      In a press release, Middleton noted Sheheen’s support for expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and praised Sheheen for speaking out against the Legislature’s “foolish” effort to nullify the federal health care law, saying “Gov. Haley played politics and stayed quiet.”…

  2. Ralph Hightower

    The great news is that South Carolina has term limits for governors; unlike Iowa where they have had Terry Brandstad for 6 to 8 terms. When I was in Iowa in 1994, he was running for his third term.

    1. Doug Ross

      All elected officials should be term limited. New blood, new ideas, break the influence that comes with extended tenure. Our problems are due to the power held by long serving politicians.

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