The Public Policy Organization (PPO) hosted gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton Feb. 1 as the South Carolina Republican June primary approaches.
Templeton stressed her conservative values during her speech in front of students, supporters and members of the media gathered in Levinson Hall.
Templeton said that during her time as South Carolina Director of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, she fought government bureaucracy and the Obama administration.
She said she angered enough members of the establishment that state law enforcement asked her to start carrying a firearm for defense.
“Can you imagine having a job where you’re doing the right thing and people are so upset that you have to carry a gun to protect yourself,” Templeton said.
Templeton also emphasized her connection to former Gov. Nikki Haley as a member of Haley’s cabinet.
“Gov. Hailey didn’t recruit me initially because I had a long history of fighting unions,” Templeton said. “She recruited me because I had a long history of beating unions.”
A large section of Templeton’s speech called out both political corruption in Columbia and a Republican opponent, Gov. Henry McMaster.
“Nikki Hailey took on the good ol’ boy system, but now they are comfortably back in these smoke-filled rooms,” Templeton said. “When we were going in the right direction, we lost our governor, and now we’re stuck with the ‘goodest’ of the good ol’ boys [as governor].”
Templeton promised a transparent government and safer state if elected.
She said BJU students who are South Carolina residents should consider voting for her because she is a political outsider.
“We need a conservative outsider, someone who can’t be bought,” Templeton said. “[Someone who is] not afraid to fight for our values, not afraid to call out the corrupt good old boys and most importantly, take us into the future we deserve.”
Zachary Heltsley, president of the PPO, said the purpose of the visit was to allow students an opportunity to interact with one of the candidates they will soon have the option to vote for in the primary.
“I love to give [BJU]students the opportunity to get to know the candidates who are running,” Heltsley said.
He said staying informed on elections may be hard during busy college schedules but hosting candidates is one way to help.
“[BJU] has a lot of students from South Carolina,” Heltsley said. “While we are in school, we get caught up in chapel, classes and the daily grind, we may forget that there are other important things going on.”
Randy Page, chief of staff for President Petit, said a rise in the political participation of college students has sparked incentive for gubernatorial candidates to visit the University.
“I think by virtue of the fact that college students are more involved, as well as the Upstate being a huge hub for conservative Republican votes, you’re seeing [an increase in candidates visiting campus].”
Templeton is the third gubernatorial candidate hosted by the PPO this election cycle, following visits by Gov. Henry McMaster and Lt. Gov. Kevin L. Bryant last fall.