Nikki Haley, Will Folks: South Carolina politics as usual

There was never a point at which I thought South Carolina politics would get boring or clean. It would be like expecting a profitable whore to come off the streets or Lt. Governor Andre Bauer to work for a living: a practice in futility.

[I couldn’t get past this sentence before my wife jumped up in Bauer’s defense. “He works very hard,” she proclaimed, “at not working. No one is going to knock on more doors than Andre Bauer!”]

But even I, among the most jaded for former political reporters in the Palmetto state’s past decade, found this morning’s developments to be more tawdry and generally icky than usual.

Will Folks, Governor Mark Sanford’s former spokesman, announced on his popular website this morning that he once had an “inappropriate physical relationship” with Nikki Haley.

Darling Nikki? Say it ain’t so. Sticky Nikki? So sad.

Sarah Palin and Nikki Haley

For those who aren’t fortunate enough to live in the Soap Opera State, you should know South Carolina is about to conduct its Republican primary for Governor. Nikki Haley, a state representative, was the dark horse in the race. However, in the past few weeks–especially after receiving endorsements from Jenny Sanford (yes, Mark Sanford’s ex-wife) and Sarah Palin, Haley jumped out to a surprising and scary lead. Something had to be done, apparently.

See, it is generally assumed that whoever wins this primary will be the next South Carolina Governor (the Democrats are off polishing their bleeding heart, hugging trees, and protecting the rights of black folk, or so I hear). So many people had laid claim to the seat, no one thought to look at Sticky Nikki. I’ll admit, I’ve been around the scene for a long time and I didn’t know who she was until a few weeks ago. I did know her opponents, however, and all too well.

  • Henry McMaster–The South Carolina Attorney General, a position for which he ran only as a stepping stone to the head of state. Loves everything I hate and hates everything I love.
  • Andre Bauer–Likes to drive fast, uses his role as a state leader (Lt. Governor) to get out of tickets, and crashes planes. Look up pandering in the dictionary and you’ll see a picture of Bauer’s head sticking out of a shirt that is two sizes too big for him.
  • Gresham Barrett–Milquetoast. Congressman. Named Gresham. The target of an infidelity smear of his own.
  • One of those guys was almost certainly going to be Governor (I figured McMaster, but I don’t know much about much anymore). Then came Nikki Haley, her high-profile endorsements, and her meteoric rise through the polls. Then came the story that is almost certainly being titled by old school GOPers as The Bitch and the Blogger.

    Will Folks (courtesy Barbecue and Politics)

    The short version: After Will Folks (picture at left) left Sanford’s office and dealt with a few problems of his own, he started up a website that has since become The Place for political muckraking in South Carolina. It became a pretty popular blog and Folks made even more enemies than he had when he worked for Sanford. He seemed to revel in the role.

    Today he reported that political operatives were threatening to out his prior relationship (which he says occurred before he was married) with the presumably already-married Haley. Folks decided to just drop the ball himself and admitted to it.

    Haley, for her part, was unequivocal. “I have been 100% faithful to my husband throughout our 13 years of marriage. This claim against me is categorically and totally false,” she said.

    So.

    Well, holy hell.

    See, it’s a crazy situation. Here are the possible scenarios.

    1) Will Folks is telling the 100% truth and Nikki Haley is a liar.
    2) Nikki Haley is telling the 100% truth and Will Folks is a liar.

    While the first scenario would be pretty tawdry, it would also be pretty standard. Politicians lie, they screw around on their spouses, and they get caught. The second scenario, however, would be just downright filthy.

    Under Scenario #2, Folks would be working on behalf of another campaign to stick a dagger in Haley’s chest just weeks before the election that would more than likely decide who will head our state for the next four years.

    Welcome to South Carolina folks. Come for the boiled peanuts, stay for the show. Tomorrow we’re going to slaughter a pig and drink its blood.