COLUMBIA, SC — John Warren of Greenville collected the endorsements of Catherine Templeton and Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant on Thursday, announcing "we are the new conservative movement for South Carolina."
RESULTS: Full SC Primary Election Results
Gov. Henry McMaster and Warren are in a runoff for the GOP nomination for governor, after McMaster failed to win a majority of the votes in Tuesday's primary.
McMaster collected 42.32 percent of the vote to Warren's 27.83 percent and Templeton's 21.39 percent, according to unofficial returns. Bryant got 6.73 percent of the vote and former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill collected 1.73 percent of the vote, according to the State Election Commission.
"Fifty-eight percent of South Carolinians said they don't want Gov. McMaster as their governor, very similarly to eight years ago," Warren said Thursday. "I think there is a pattern here that South Carolinians do not want someone who has no vision for our state, who has been tied to Richard Quinn for 30 years. We are the new conservative movement for South Carolina."
Quinn, who Bryant once dubbed the "Godfather" during a debate, is a political consultant at the heart of a Statehouse corruption probe that has been ongoing for five years. McMaster cut ties with Quinn earlier this year.
In response, McMaster's campaign issued a statement.
"John Warren is wrong when he says that South Carolina is losing and it doesn't come as much of a surprise that Governor McMaster's challengers, who don't understand that our state is headed in the right direction, support him," said Caroline Anderegg, a spokeswoman for the campaign. "The governor is proud to have the support of President Trump and the more than 150,000 South Carolinians who gave him a great victory on Tuesday."
McMaster's campaign also hosted a press call Thursday afternoon with state Sen. Katrina Shealy, a Lexington County Republican who supported Bryant in the primary but now supports McMaster.
"I think being an outsider, all those things are great, but I think we need experience," she said. "I think coming in with no experience at all is not what South Carolina needs. Gov. McMaster has brought more than 20,000 new jobs to this state in just two short years. I believe he deserves another term to show us what else he can do."
Templeton said the trio like McMaster.
"We like Henry but Henry's the past," Templeton said."John is the future."
Templeton said she sat down with Warren Wednesday and asked him a series of "hard" questions and was satisfied with his answers.
"I saw in him an earnest, true leader who actually wants to take care of this state," she said. "So I am excited, I am proud and I am confident to leave my children and my money with John Warren's leadership over the next decade," she said.
Asked how she could endorse someone whose views on abortion she attacked during the primary, Templeton replied, "John is pro-life. John is pro-Second Amendment."
Bryant said he is "extremely excited" to campaign for Warren.
"I sponsored personhood. John Warren supports personhood," he said, referring to legislation that would outlaw almost all abortions. "I sponsored constitutional carry (a bill to allow gun owners to carry their guns without a permit). John Warren supports constitutional carry."
He said McMaster's executive order concerning Planned Parenthood "does not defund Planned Parenthood."
"John Warren supports defunding Planned Parenthood and not spending one penny of your money with evil organizations like Planned Parenthood," Bryant said.
Shealy said she supported Bryant because they are friends and have worked together on issues but she also has worked with McMaster.
"I will tell my people who supported Lt. Gov. Bryant with me that I'm now supporting Gov. McMaster and I think he is the best person for the job," she said.
Templeton said she has heard the runoff is "getting ready to get even uglier" with attack ads against Warren.
"We had a campaign that looked into John Warren," she said. "That's what you do in politics. And I'm telling you right now, this gentleman is honorable. This gentleman has served our country. The thought that anyone would attack him on something as amazing as defending our liberty and freedom is so dishonorable."
Templeton asked those who voted for her "to vote for John Warren now because he is a conservative outsider business person and he's a Christian."
Warren said the three candidates fought during the campaign because of a passion for the state but that their opposition to each other "is in the past."
"Both Catherine and I and Kevin love our state and care so passionately for it and I think that came out during the debates," he said. "The one thing you can rest assured is that we're all unified now."
Warren said he believes his support will "absolutely grow" beyond the Upstate with the endorsements of Templeton and Bryant. Warren carried Greenville and Pickens counties Tuesday, while Templeton carried four counties.
Asked about President Donald Trump's endorsement of McMaster, Warren said the president endorsed him before he entered the race.
"I think if the only thing you have to brag about on your record is the fact that the president has endorsed you, it's a short record of accomplishment," Warren said. "When you look at my record, it is much more similar to Donald Trump than someone who has been tied to Richard Quinn for 30 years, someone who has been part of the Columbia swamp for 30 years."
Templeton said she is the only candidate who Trump actually offered a job.
"John Warren is an outsider, he's a successful businessman," she said. "He doesn't owe anybody anything or need anything from anyone. We voted for Donald Trump because he was going to drain the swamp and clean it up. That's why I'm with John Warren. Henry McMaster is not Donald Trump."
Shealy said Trump is a "huge" supporter of the governor.
"He may even be in the state campaigning for Gov. McMaster," she said. "If it plays a role in this campaign, it will certainly be in Gov. McMaster's favor, not in John Warren's favor."