McMaster hires consultant to lead his re-election campaign

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster address a crowd at Coastal Carolina University on...
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster address a crowd at Coastal Carolina University on Friday, November 8, 2019.(WMBF)
Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 10:38 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has officially hired a Columbia-based political strategist to lead his campaign for a second full term in office.

The campaign tells The Associated Press on Thursday that Mark Knoop is on board as McMaster’s campaign manager.

The 33-year-old served as political director for U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s successful campaign last year against former South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison.

Knoop also helped lead Victory 2020, the South Carolina Republican Party’s overall election effort, which had a cascade of wins across the state.

That year, he consulted for U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson and has previously served as campaign manager for Attorney General Alan Wilson, now in his third term.

Last month, former U.S. First Congressional District Rep. Joe Cunningham formally announced his run against McMaster. Cunningham, a Democrat, lost his re-election bid for his U.S. House seat to former South Carolina State Rep. Nancy Mace.

On the heels of news that Cunningham would run against McMaster, Graham described Cunningham as a hard worker and “a nice guy.”

“As a Republican, I would take his candidacy seriously,” Graham said. “I think he’ll take the state in a different direction than I would prefer it to go. I think his politics are different.”

Graham then praised the job McMaster has done as governor and said McMaster would have his vote.

McMaster was the first U.S. attorney appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. He was later elected as the state’s attorney general in 2002 and was reelected in 2006.

In 2017, McMaster, who was then serving as the state’s lieutenant governor under then-Gov. Nikki Haley, became the state’s chief executive when President Donald Trump appointed Haley as United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

McMaster was elected to a full term as governor in November 2018.

Cunningham is listed along with McMaster, James E. Smith Jr., and Gary Votour on the State Ethics Commission’s website.

Copyright 2021 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.