- Associated Press - Monday, June 25, 2018

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A wealthy political newcomer challenging South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster for the Republican gubernatorial nomination has been spending the final days before Tuesday’s runoff crisscrossing the state.

Greenville businessman and Marine veteran John Warren planned to make stops across the state on Monday in Simpsonville, Daniel Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill and on Hilton Head Island, a day before voters go to the polls to pick their GOP nominee.

McMaster was the top individual vote-getter in the June 12 primary, but failed to get the majority of votes, which he needed to secure the nomination. Warren finished second with 28 percent of votes cast and was endorsed by the third- and fourth-place finishers, former state agency head Catherine Templeton and Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant.

President Donald Trump was scheduled to campaign with McMaster on Monday evening in West Columbia, making a last push for the candidate he helped elevate to the state’s top office early last year when then-Gov. Nikki Haley became U.N. Ambassador. As lieutenant governor, McMaster was the first statewide elected official in the country to back Trump’s candidacy in early 2016, giving the businessman’s outsider candidacy a key boost ahead of South Carolina’s early primary.

As an entrepreneur and first-time candidate who’s given millions to his own campaign, Warren has said that he’s more similar to Trump than McMaster, long a fixture in South Carolina’s Republican establishment.

“If anyone supported Donald Trump, and they look and truly give an honest assessment of whose resume and whose background is more similar to Donald Trump, they will side with me,” Warren said during a recent interview with The Associated Press. “It is clear I’m an outsider. I am a businessman. I’m a conservative. The establishment doesn’t want me to get elected.”

In the campaign’s closing days, Warren has been making a final effort to get out his message as the candidate who represents a change from what he describes as a gubernatorial administration of government corruption and glad-handing. As McMaster supporters gathered in Conway over the weekend for a campaign rally with Vice President Mike Pence, Warren held a news conference nearby, outlining contributions and appointments that he argued make McMaster a “pay-to-play” governor.

“The career politicians don’t want me to get elected, because they know that I’m going to go down there and just fight for the taxpayer,” Warren recently told AP. “And I am not beholden to anyone.”


Sign up for “Politics in Focus,” a weekly newsletter showcasing the AP’s best political reporting from across the United States leading up to the 2018 midterm elections: http://apne.ws/3Gzcraw.


Reach Kinnard at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP. Read her work at https://apnews.com/search/meg%20kinnard.

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