A year ago South Carolina wouldn’t have even been in the top half of my list of states with the craziest politics. But in the interim a lot has happened, and South Carolina is now in my top 10 and after this morning’s developments it’s making a strong bid for top 5.
The day started with a prominent South Carolina politics blogger named Will Folks confessing on his blog to having had an “inappropriate physical relationship” with state Rep. Nikki Haley, who happens to be seeking the GOP nomination for governor. The affair took place before Folks was married, he says, but apparently while Haley was married. She remains married to this day, and Folks subsequently married.
Before becoming a blogger, Folks was a press aide for Gov. Mark Sanford, he of Appalachian Trail fame. But Folks had a falling out with the governor, left the governor’s office, and in the course of Sanford’s meanderings last year Folks was one of the most aggressive and relentless chroniclers of the Sanford saga.
The story might end there, outside of South Carolina: a married state legislator and mother of two aspires to be governor had an affair with a Republican political operative. But Haley is emphatically denying that any such thing ever happened. “I have been 100% faithful to my husband throughout our 13 years of marriage. This claim against me is categorically and totally false,” Haley said in a statement released a short time ago.
Haley blames what she calls “these attacks” and “this disgraceful smear” on her political opponents and the fact that she is leading in the most recent poll of the Republican gubernatorial primary. But what makes her blistering denial so odd is that Folks is a Haley supporter and says as much in the same blog post in which he admitted to the affair, calling her “the one S.C. gubernatorial candidate who, in my opinion, would most consistently advance the ideals I believe in.” So it doesn’t stand to reason that Folks would be attacking her. But this is South Carolina, so just because it stands to reason doesn’t make it so.
They don’t call themselves the Gamecocks for nothing.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.