The Republican National Committee probably needs to move Matt Moore to the top of its short list.
For some time now, the South Carolina GOP chair has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Reince Priebus, who will step down from the RNC chairmanship next year. And Moore has proven repeatedly that he’s just what a party in crisis needs.
Because right now, Matt Moore is the only person acting like an adult in Columbia.
The Post and Courier obtained texts and emails this week that show tremendous pressure on Moore to wade into this fight between Solicitor David Pascoe and Attorney General Alan Wilson.
If you’ve been vacationing in the real world, Wilson appointed Pascoe special prosecutor to investigate state lawmakers. Wilson recused himself to avoid any possible conflict of interest — apparently he has buddies targeted in the probe.
But when Pascoe tried to move forward, Wilson stopped him, “fired” him and called him “tainted.” Last week the AG held a press conference to attack the solicitor’s character, legal knowledge and temperament. Classy.
At the same time, one of Wilson’s top aides was trying to get Moore to use the state Republican Party to beat up Pascoe. They actually told Moore he should publicly call Pascoe a Democratic “party hack.”
Moore said “No.”
So who, exactly, is the party hack here?
Around Columbia, some of us like to call these guys the “bowtie mafia” — a bunch of young Republicans who drift from one political appointment to the next, alternating between campaigns, government jobs and lobbying gigs.
Some of them are really nice, earnest fellows — maybe a little frat boyish — who are the future of the state Republican Party, God help us.
Most of them are just trying to make a living, and some are ideological purists. But they get into the Columbia bubble, the orbit around South Carolina’s largest high school (the Statehouse), and some lose all sense of proportion.
Adam Piper, who is Wilson’s deputy chief of staff, is one of them. Last week, Piper told Moore that it would be “beneficial to the party for years to come” if he would attack Pascoe as a “Democrat political hack and Dick Harpootlian’s mini-me,” a reference to the boisterous former state Democratic Party chair.
Would that be beneficial to the party, or Wilson?
Now, Piper says he’s friends with Moore and sent the email from one private account to another.
But still, he’s also a ranking member of the AG’s staff who was trying to enlist the Republican Party in a fight the AG is losing. Badly.
It doesn’t look good. In fact, Piper looks like the hack, and that reflects on Wilson — whether the AG knew about the conversation or not.
The more Wilson’s camp claims “Boy Scout” status and cries “dirty politics” about Pascoe, it looks more and more like they’re the ones playing politics with a criminal investigation.
In a text, Moore told one Wilsonite that “it’s laughable to think any chairs would run guns blazing into an open criminal investigation.”
That’s great wisdom and maturity for a guy in his early 30s. Another point for Moore.
Yes, the state Democratic Party attacked Wilson for his smear of Pascoe, but they are a toothless entity that rarely gets to crow about anything. So you have to forgive them for piddling on the rug.
If there is any real meddling going on, the kind with power behind it, it’s from Wilson’s crowd — and apparently Moore recognizes that.
But then, Moore has been showing his reasonable political chops for some time. When Republican Party hack Ann Coulter called on Donald Trump to deport Gov. Nikki Haley, Moore was the first to call it “despicable.”
“We have to be a party that’s focused on bringing people into the tent to be successful in November,” Moore said at the time. “And in doing that, words matter, tone matters, and the way we say things matters.”
Wilson’s camp should heed those words. The attorney general may be right on points of law — it really is time for the state Supreme Court to clear this up — but his office has infused seedy politics in what is, at its heart, an open criminal investigation.
That is hackdom at its worst.
And now, because Moore wouldn’t do their bidding, they may turn on him next.
If Moore can survive the mudslinging, perhaps he really is ready for the big time.
Reach Brian Hicks at email@example.com