State Representative Nikki Haley and her allies made the move VUI predicted against Congressman Gresham Barrett by running clever ads attacking Barrett's record in Congress. As stated before, VUI believes that Haley sees Barrett as her main opposition in gaining a runoff spot.
That said, Congressman Barrett has sparked some controversy in recent media reports about his own ads. Barrett has issued ads defending his record in Congress using funds Barrett had left over in his Congressional campaign account. The ads in question fired up Barrett critics and got the media asking whether or not it is right for Barrett to run such ads with Congressional campaign account money when Barrett is running for Governor.
Frankly, such a question misses the bigger issue. Is Barrett right or wrong in what he is doing legally or ethically? Who knows? The bigger point is Barrett is spending resources and defining himself on the Haley camp's terms. Put plainly, the Barret camp is dancing to the tune the Haley camp is playing.
Before all of you Barrett supporters get set to blast off nasty comments or emails about such an assertion, read the rest of this post and think a minute. After the last Gubernatorial debate, Gresham Barrett walked of the stage the clear winner. Barrett talked about state issues and jobs and seemed more like a Governor than anyone else on the stage. VUI dubbed Barrett's performance "refreshing."
Then, came the attack ads against him from allies of the Haley camp. After those ads, the Barrett camp chose to define Barrett with ads suitable for a re-election campaign to a Congressional seat. State issues were lost. Worse, Gresham Barrett appeared to be reactive to the candidate in last place in all the current polls instead of challenging the front runner on state issues.
Indeed, it seems as if Barrett lost his sense of mission in the last debate and became a candidate who lets someone else define the discussion. That drift is much more important than whether or not the ads are "right" to do.
If Barrett is going to drop out of the race for Governor and run for re-election against the relatively weak field seeking to replace him, then the ads being ran by his operation are smart. But, if Barrett means to be Governor, then he needs to drop the ads he has up now and go back to talking about state issues and aim for McMaster and stop letting the Haley operation dictate his course. The Haley crowd is defining the Barrett campaign now. To become Governor, Barrett has to take control of the debate back. Millions spent on Congressional re-election type ads will not do that. Indeed, all the Barrett team is doing is playing into the hands of Haley. A Governor has to see such things coming. It appears Barrett did not. Instead, Congressman Barrett took the bait hook, line and sinker and now he is hooked into the discussion Haley wants.