National Review Online sat down with Katon Dawson and talked to him about the race, his vision, and where he wants to take the GOP. The article is here, but I posted some excerpts below.
They start with an interesting factoid: “Only two states in the country had more people vote for John McCain for president in 2008 than voted for George W. Bush in 2004: Louisiana and South Carolina.”
South Carolina is, in the national imagination, deep Dixie and fertile ground for Republicans. But Dawson notes that beating Democrats in this state isn’t as easy it may look from outside: The state had a Democratic governor as recently as 2002, and Democratic senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings held his seat with an iron grip for several terms. Republicans only retook control of the state senate in 2000, and they hold an 8-seat margin; in the state assembly, the GOP has expanded its majority from a 12-seat margin in 1998 to a 22-seat margin today. South Carolina Democrats are rarely foolish enough to run as liberals, and running against a conservative opponent represents unique challenges. Dawson notes that recently five Democratic sheriffs switched parties to the GOP, because they knew the new partisan label could ensure their reelection.
Dawson jokes that back in 2002, when he began running the state party, every time he entered a bar, patrons would move three barstools down, because they knew he would be hitting them up for donations. During his management, the state party has raised $18 million, and expanded its donor base to 18,000 individuals.
While every candidate has talked about strengthening the grassroots, Dawson has laid out perhaps the most ambitious plan, “Project 3141,” which aims to have a viable county party in all of the nation’s 3,141 counties, as well as fielding candidates in each of the 435 congressional districts.
He also says he is offended that his membership in an all white country club has become an issue when he’s been endorsed by 2 of the 3 African American RNC members. Well that’s fine but do we really expect the Democrats to mention that when they are pounding him on it?