As Republican Nikki Haley took the stage on Election Night to thank her supporters, she apologized because it was a little later than she’d expected. For the first few hours as results came in, the governor’s race was too close to call and it looked like the GOP might not pull it out. And that’s exactly what diehard Republican David Woodard wanted.
In the closing weeks of the 2010 campaign season, Woodard formed a group called Conservatives for Truth in Politics (TIP), along with former S.C. Republican Party vice chair Cyndi Mosteller, Their sole purpose has been to tell the truth about Haley as they see it.
TIP’s message may not have swayed enough voters to cast their ballots in favor of Haley’s Democratic opponent Vincent Sheheen, but Woodard believes the group made an impact.
“A generic Republican running for governor in this state should win 55 percent. She won 51.2. I think we had some affect,” Woodard says. “Of course, we’ll never know.”
He adds, “If I had to do it over again, I’d do the same thing.”
Woodard for one is willing to move on, to a point. “Now that it’s all over, she’s my governor, and I’ll hang in there until she does something stupid,” he says.
A Clemson University political science professor and the co-author of Why We Whisper with U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, Woodard is not dissolving TIP, at least not yet. “We’ve got some money,” Woodard says. “We intend to keep functioning for a while.”
Woodard believes that the media does a poor job of serving as a government watchdog. More often than not, the press acts more like a lapdog. And as for the political blogs in South Carolina — from the newly launched Process Story to the big daddy of them all, FITSNews — their allegiance to the truth is questionable. “The bloggers are all in bed with somebody, in Will Folks’ case, literally,” Woodard says, referring to the blogger’s alleged relationship with Gov.-elect Haley.
As Woodard sees it, TIP will help fill the void left by the mainstream media and the blogosphere by keeping the government accountable. “I think the more groups that can get out there and raise the issues, so be it,” Woodard says.
Woodard, Mosteller, and the rest of TIP may be licking their wounds, but Folks of FITSNews has a reason to celebrate. His candidate won. And with Haley’s spot secured in the governor’s mansion, Folks’ book deal can move forward.
That said, there were perhaps a few iffy moments on Election Day, at least when it comes to one potential publisher. “I got a call from a guy that is actually one of the guys I’ve been talking to, and some the early returns were coming in and he was calling saying, ‘She better win.,” Folks says with a chuckle.
Although Folks has yet to secure a deal, he has been hard at work on the book, which will describe his relationship with Nikki Haley and may go into detail about his time as Gov. Mark Sanford’s spokesman. “There are some competing angles,” Folks says. “I’m leaning more toward the version that looks at both Sanford and Nikki.”
One possible title that Folks mentions, Reformers in Name Only, indicates exactly what sort of angle the blogger is looking at. The title is a play on the oft-used phrase among conservatives, Republicans in Name Only, or RINOs for short.
When talking about the direction of the book, Folks describes what might be the central question of the work. “Are there politicians out there who are just complete frauds as human beings that are using the gullibility of South Carolinians to advance their own career without giving a shit about what happens to the state?” Folks asks. “The obvious answer for the last eight years is yes.”
He adds, “I don’t think anybody really wants to read a Harlequin [Romance], although I don’t know. We’ll have to see.”
Because he still hasn’t decided which direction to take, Folks has been working on sections that would be suitable for either story. “I’ve written a chapter that basically says this is who I am and where I came from, and how in the hell I ended up in this crazy political world,” Folks says.
And he’s started writing about some of the details of his alleged relationship with Haley.
“I thought it was interesting that her election party was right across the street from the bar where we made out the first time,” he says. “I thought that was kind of funny.”
Like Woodard, Folks can’t devote all of his time to just this one project. “The only question is do I try and rush to get something out,” Folks says. “I’ve still got a business to run. I’ve still got a news outlet to run. And I’m only one person. It ain’t like I’m Jenny Sanford and I’ve got absolutely nothing, nothing, to fucking do. I can’t sit on my ass with a team of researchers to vent my estrogen. I’ve got to find the time. But I’m finding it here and there. But I don’t have a time table.”