By Gregg Bragg, Senior Staff Writer for The Island Connection
Catherine Templeton is running for governor undaunted by the need to win a primary against an incumbent from her own republican party. She didn’t let the aftermath of South Carolina’s version of “snowmageddon” stop her from getting the word out either. Templeton met with the Island Connection on a day best described by the stereotypic opening to a bad novel. She good naturedly declined committing to remedy the weather if elected, then jabbed that some politicians might actually make such a campaign promise. Templeton is an SC native born in Columbia in 1970. She received a BA from Wofford, and a JD from the University of SC. She took her law degree to Ogletree Deakins, specializing in union avoidance. Her experience with state government began in January 2011 when Gov. elect Nikki Haley appointed her Secretary of Labor. She served there until March 2012, when she took over the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control until early 2015. Templeton’s experience with DHEC brings some local issues to the front of the line. “I support president Trump’s energy policy but to your point about tourism; there are so many other places where there are known oil reserves that we should be taking advantage of before we even talk about South Carolina,” responded Templeton. “I’m for jobs and prosperity, of course, tourism is a known commodity in SC and there are known oil reserves in other states. Quite frankly the business community, the private sector will make the decision.” Asked about DHEC’s baseline or “critical line debate,” Templeton said “interestingly when the law was passed there were a number of legislators that [said it – S-139] was not what they intended. The problem is you can’t draw a critical line after two events. The data after two events is always suspect. The law requires that the critical line be frozen and not ever move seaward again, and that’s what was incumbent on DHEC to do. What the new line that they drew did was cut across private property, and you can’t do that. The governor wrote a letter and said to put the line on hold, but regs [sic] don’t trump statutes and opens DHEC to more lawsuits. At the end of the day it was a simple fix… The law didn’t say redraw the line, the law said don’t move the line seaward.” Templeton didn’t flinch when asked directly about running against an incumbent from her own party. Asked if she was apprehensive about the vote just five or so months away, she said, “No, I’m excited! We have elected outsiders nationally and locally in SC. The party’s not even treating the governor as the incumbent. The chips that go to the incumbent; like the incumbent speaks at the state GOP party meeting and no one else can. Well, they invited me to speak as well. This is a gentleman who is a placeholder. He has run for governor, lt. governor, both unsuccessfully. Didn’t come in second. I think he wanted to be a senator and ran for that. We like Henry, we know his name, but we didn’t choose him. “I spent virtually my entire life in the private sector and the only reason I’m involved in government is because Governor Haley asked me to come help her.
She did a great job of taking on the establishment, the corrupt ‘good ole boy’ system, and when she left the forest started growing back. We worked hard to make change and bring resources and attract talent to SC, and we have to have someone to manage that. It can’t go back to the way it’s always been. “And, don’t my take word for it. I know that raising money doesn’t mean you win by any stretch of the imagination, but here’s the message it does send; we out raised that incumbent last quarter. We’ve broken every record in the book. We’ve raised more money than any challenger in the history of SC, because people are hungry for someone who will actually serve without selfdealing.” Asked about her plan to create jobs Templeton responded, “government doesn’t create jobs, government gets out of the way so jobs can be created. Government defends our right to work so people can take those jobs and get paid. When I worked for governor Haley I can give you a list… of the thousands of jobs that because we were there, are here now. Boeing, for example, that’s why she hired me. I used to fight labor unions. [No], I didn’t fight them, I used to beat them… I used to win. You gotta be able to back up the sale.” She also framed her time with DHEC as an exercise in clearing obstacles hampering projects. The question on domestic violence wasn’t even out there before Templeton cut in saying “we’re number one,” with an incredulous shrug. Her sympathies on the issue started with her mother, who opened a temporary shelter in Columbia for abuse victims, and she shrugged again in acknowledging the tri-county area has only 36 beds to serve the region. “It’s the most dangerous situation you can put a police officer in, is a criminal domestic violence call.” She went on to explain that SC doesn’t train police to deal with this, saying the funding for any training they do receive comes from tickets. She hopes to change how training is funded calling it “the most horrible, circular mismanagement,” but without compromising access to guns. Templeton proudly has a concealed weapons permit. She is convinced not only that restricted gun access for documented abusers would be impossible to enforce, but also ineffective; a determined abuser would simply find another way, she said and has no plans to restrict access to firearms. Pressed for time, Templeton answered a quick question about education in the state. “The money should follow the child,” said the candidate. RJ May, an operative with the Templeton campaign responded to an email request for clarification saying, “Money should follow the child to the learning environment of their parents choosing that best fits the students needs and abilities so he/she can meet their god-given potential whether that be home school, private school, charter school, etc.” May also addressed rumors about an endorsement from Steve Bannon saying there hadn’t been an endorsement, only that “Mrs. Templeton introduced Mr. Bannon at the request of the Citadel Republican Society,” at its annual Patriot Dinner held last November.