South Carolina gubernatorial candidates Catherine Templeton, Yancey McGill and Kevin Bryant gathered for a forum in Myrtle Beach on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. Chloe Johnson/Staff

It’s too bad Gov. Henry McMaster blew off the tea party convention in Myrtle Beach — he could’ve learned a thing or two about fixing government, and campaigning.

Including the first lesson: They talk about you when you don’t show up.

GOP gubernatorial hopefuls Catherine Templeton, Kevin Bryant and Yancey McGill took turns bashing the current South Carolina chief executive in front of a crowd of nearly 200 tea partiers on Monday.

The crowd would have been larger, but no doubt many folks were tired after a trip to Greenville on Saturday to see the First Mistress of the United States (FMOTUS) at a strip club near the airport.

McMaster’s three challengers for the Republican nomination beat him up for myriad things: He accepted campaign donations from a Democrat; it’s his fault there’s corruption at the Statehouse; he gave Kim Jong Un nuclear weapons ...

But mostly they attacked him for vetoing money to replace our highly flammable school buses. Which was a bad call.

All the candidates did well, but Bryant won the nomination — even if most don’t realize it yet. He wins because he came up with a solution to all our problems that was exactly what everyone wanted to hear.

We don’t need taxes to fund government.

“I say we pay for it with freedom,” Bryant proclaimed.

National currency

The most recent polling shows McMaster with nearly 40 percent support in the Republican primary. Bryant is a distant second with 11 percent.

But that is bound to change when folks realize they can keep all their money and run state government on freedom.

It’s all right there in Bryant's Contract With South Carolina, which is in no way a retread of the 1994 Republican Congress’ Contract With America.

See, fixing ethics won’t cost money. Bryant says we just need integrity — which is free. He’s put the definition of integrity right there on his campaign website for anyone who doesn’t know what that means.

You know, like some state lawmakers.

Repairing our roads only requires Department of Transportation restructuring. That idea is free, too, since Sen. Tom Davis decided not to run for governor.

And education? Why, the answer is choice! Which is kind of like freedom.

Now, that definition isn’t on Bryant’s website, but here it is: Choice means the government reimburses people for sending their kids to private schools with money that would otherwise go to public schools.

So how do you then pay for public schools?

With freedom, of course.

The same goes for health care. Who needs state-subsidized medical insurance when we have freedom?

WARNING: Freedom may not protect you from the flu, broken limbs, diabetes, heart disease or cancer. Does not cover neonatal care, nutrition programs or the gout (but dying is free). Anyone with continuing symptoms or questions should call their doctor immediately.

Ask her if she accepts freedom.

With friends like these ...

Yes, McMaster missed his chance to connect with real primary voters.

He could have announced all the new jobs that will be available cleaning rooms at Mar-a-Lago once immigration deports all them foreigners.

Too bad he was, as McMaster campaign spokeswoman Caroline Anderegg said, “focused on his job: being governor.”


McMaster could have pointed out that, unlike Templeton and Bryant, he didn’t cozy up to that traitorous Steve Bannon just a few weeks ago. You know, when he was a tea party hero.

And he could have noted that this field of three self-proclaimed outsiders collectively includes two lieutenant governors, two state senators and a woman who was department head of two state agencies.

But McMaster chose not to do that, probably because he realized he can’t get any farther to the right than Bryant — who wouldn’t even rule out offshore drilling.

Because, you know, freedom. And he's way behind in fundraising and oil lobbyists pay a little better than freedom.

If McMaster had gone, he would have been forced to admit the president has thus far ignored his pleas to exempt the state from offshore drilling, and defied his request to not put heavy tariffs on solar energy and new washing machines. Which the governor said would be bad for business.

McMaster knew he would be wasting his breath.You can't argue with freedom.

Besides, GOP primary voters already know these new federal tax cuts will almost cover the extra freight on washing machines.

And they can pay the balance with freedom.

Reach Brian Hicks at