One of the most daunting challenges for those seeking down-ballot statewide offices is to overcome difficulties in raising funds: some work to recruit and engage large grassroots operations, while others find ways to generate lots of publicity for their candidacies. While campaigns can fall behind in one of these three areas and survive, failing to quickly balance shortcomings in one area with strengths in others can be the kiss of death for statewide candidates.
News that Republican Attorney General candidate Alan Wilson finished last of the three GOP candidates in fundraising in recent campaign finance reports made some observers wonder if he was about to fall behind in the race. As early stumbles can fatally wound statewide candidates, Wilson's announcement of the endorsement of sixteen of the state's 46 Sheriffs couldn't have come at a better time:
Ed Carroll (Barnwell), Wayne DeWitt (Berkeley), Thomas Summers (Calhoun), Richard Smith (Chester), Sam Parker (Chesterfield), Randy Garrett (Clarendon), Herman Young (Fairfield), Tony Davis (Greenwood), Ricky Chastain (Laurens), James Metts (Lexington), Mark Richardson (Marion), Lee Foster (Newberry), James Singleton (Oconee), Jason Booth (Saluda), Chuck Wright (Spartanburg), and Bruce Bryant (York)
While their support has been courted by Attorney General candidates, landing the support of any sizable number of them is often difficult.
Even more interesting is that half of the endorsers are Democrats. One of them - Thomas Summers from Calhoun County - represents one of three counties of the First Circuit, whose Solicitor (David Pascoe), is widely expected to be the Democratic candidate.
As one of the other two Sheriffs from the First Circuit, Dorchester Sheriff L.C. Knight, is the political nemesis of one of Pascoe's big supporters - former Dorchester Sheriff Ray Nash - it seems likely that should Wilson win the GOP nod, at least two of the three Sheriffs in Pascoe's judicial circuit won't be supporting him.
It's hard to imagine that point wouldn't be used against Pascoe in the fall.
While the race for the Republican nomination is far from over, Wilson's endorsements were a much-needed shot in the arm for his candidacy, helping signal that the three-way primary race for this office is still very much on.