As executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, Nathan Daschle can expertly spin his party’s chances of winning any of the 37 gubernatorial races on tap this fall.
But ask him to name a “sleeper” race where the party has a chance to steal a statehouse, and the first state he cites: South Carolina.
The deep-red Palmetto State holds its primary Tuesday, and Mr. Daschle in an interview said the result could only increase his party’s chance of winning the governor’s race, a post Democrats have held for just four of the past 23 years.
“It looks like we will be getting a varsity-level candidate, probably as strong a candidate as we could hope for, while given what’s happening on the other side, the voters of South Carolina might just be looking for a change,” Mr. Daschle said.
The woes on the “other side” start with the ethical and romantic trials of outgoing Republican Gov. Mark Sanford, whose approval rating plummeted in the wake of the international scandal over his extramarital affair and very public divorce.
The Republican primary campaign to succeed Mr. Sanford has brought more unwanted notoriety to the state. Front-runner state Rep. Nikki Haley of Lexington has angrily denied two charges of infidelity while being called a “raghead” by a Republican state legislator and supporter of one of her main rivals, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer. An Indian-American, Mrs. Haley was born a Sikh but converted to Christianity in the 1990s.
Mrs. Haley categorically denied the infidelity charges, calling them “South Carolina politics at its worst.” She said the attacks were being leaked by operatives for her rivals in the Republican primary race, a countercharge her opponents promptly denied.
Mr. Daschle has an interest in playing up GOP divisions in the race, but his opinion was seconded late last week by one of the very Republicans seeking the nomination.
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