With less than two weeks to go until South Carolina’s GOP primary election, Senate candidate Wes Climer has picked up the endorsement of Republican Gov. Nikki Haley in his bid to unseat Wes Hayes, who is seeking a seventh full term representing Senate District 15.
Haley will visit Rock Hill next Thursday, June 9, for a barbecue fundraiser at the Climer family home.
“Wes Climer is a conservative businessman who is leading the fight for term limits, lower taxes and good government reform,” Haley said in a news release announcing the endorsement. “If we are going to change the way the Senate works, we are going to have to change Senators.”
In picking up the endorsement, Climer joins with other Republican candidates who have received the governor’s backing against longtime GOP incumbents, with hopes from Haley and her supporters to place more allies into the Legislature for the 2017-18 session.
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Climer welcomed Haley’s endorsement on Wednesday.
“I have been running on fixing the Senate, on making sure government works better and solves problems,” he said. “So there’s a lot of commonality there.”
Climer has received support from a campaign group tied to Haley. TV ads backing Climer are on the air, produced by A Great Day SC, a 527 political advocacy group named after the governor’s catch phrase.
Hayes said he wasn’t surprised Haley got involved in the race behind Climer, since “she’s basically been paying for his TV for the past week.”
Hayes said he was “disappointed,” since he said he’s worked to support the governor’s priorities this year on funding a roads plan without a tax increase, restructuring the Department of Transportation and reforming ethics and education.
“I’ve been with her on all those initiatives,” he said, “but this won’t change how I’m going to campaign. I’m still going to talk about those issues.”
‘Trying to erase the senior leadership’
Climer is only the latest candidate to get the governor’s endorsement in a contested primary calendar.
Haley is also backing former Florence County GOP chairman Richard Skipper in his challenge to Sen. Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, the Senate’s president pro tempore and one of the most powerful members of the Legislature; and Myrtle Beach businessman Scott Pyle in his bid to unseat Sen. Luke Rankin, chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee.
Leatherman and Haley have often clashed on the governor’s legislative agenda, and Haley has criticized Rankin for opposing her preferred track on ethics reform. Haley is also doing fundraisers for both Pyle and Skipper this week.
In Georgetown, Haley is endorsing attorney Reese Boyd in an open GOP contest against current state Rep. Stephen Goldfinch, who voted to raise the gas tax without lowering state income taxes as Haley wanted.
Hayes said he doesn’t see any commonality between himself, Leatherman and Rankin other than all three are long-serving members of the Senate.
“It seems like she’s trying to erase the senior leadership,” he said.
Anyone hoping to attend the Haley fundraiser in Rock Hill at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 9, can RSVP online at bit.ly/1r2TIRu.