Trump offers early endorsement for loyal SC governor

AP Political
Henry McMaster

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster listens as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, after winning re-election, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump on Friday endorsed South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s bid for a second full term in 2022, continuing their yearslong alliance in a move to strengthen ties with the early-voting state that Trump won twice.

In a statement through his Save America PAC, Trump commended McMaster’s efforts on behalf of the military, veterans and law enforcement, saying the Republican “has my Complete and Total Endorsement as he runs for re-election!”

The endorsement, along with other recent moves, continues to signal Trump’s desire to maintain ties with South Carolina, home of the first presidential primary votes in the South. Earlier this week, Trump formally endorsed U.S. Sen. Tim Scott in his own 2022 reelect bid, also complimenting Scott’s work on behalf of the military, law enforcement and veterans.

Last month, Trump gave backing to Drew McKissick for a third term as chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, signaling a desire to wade not only into state-level politics but also to play a role in maintaining the local party framework in places that backed his presidency and where his support remains steady.

But the former president’s relationship with McMaster goes deeper, predating either man’s administration. In early 2016, then-Lt. Gov. McMaster threw his support behind Trump’s presidential bid, becoming the first statewide-elected official in the country to do so. That summer, McMaster was one of two speakers to formally nominate Trump at the Republican National Convention.

The move helped boost Trump to a double-digit victory in South Carolina’s early primary. It also surprised many allies and friends of McMaster, a longtime member of South Carolina’s establishment GOP circles. But McMaster’s wager paid dividends a year later, when Trump picked Nikki Haley as his U.N. ambassador, allowing McMaster to ascend to the governor’s office, a post he had long sought.

In 2018, as McMaster sought his first full term in office, Trump campaigned for his ally roughly 12 hours before polls opened in a GOP runoff race, which McMaster ultimately won.

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Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.

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