With about ten weeks to go before South Carolina holds it’s primary which continues to become more and more important with each presidential election cycle, CNN reports that Newt Gingrich has established the largest campaign organization in the state of all his Republican presidential rivals. Of course the numbers that determine this footprint are all in the single digits. The two second largest campaign organizations in the state goes to Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Texas Governor Rick Perry. They have seven staffers a piece. Newt Gingrich has two more, for a total of nine.
Herman Cain currently has four paid staffers in the state, while former ambassador and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s campaign has three people on staff, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has just two.
This CNN report stemmed from a Newt Gingrich inspired press release that his campaign issued early on Monday. In it, Newt’s campaign announced that two long term advisors recently moved to South Carolina to direct Newt 2012′s First in the South primary bid. they are Adam Waldeck who will serve as State Director and Vince Haley who will serve in the capacity of Policy Director.
Newt’s campaign already had seven paid staffers which included several veteran activists and tea party leaders. And it also has in place a statewide team that will serve as Regional Directors. That organizational effort will include Joshua Putnam, the youngest state representative currently serving in South Carolina’s legislature as the Upstate coordinator, DeLinda Ridings. Ridings was the South Carolina filed director for Jon Huntsman as recently as last week. Newt’s South Carolina organizational team will also include Myrtle Beach TEA movement Gerri McDaniel (aka: GeekGirl2U), will help organize the so-called Pee Dee region, Chris Horne, a TEA movement veteran, preacher and internet marketing expert will lead the effort in Charleston, and also hailing from the Charleston area is Joanne Jones, Vice Chairman of the Charleston Tea Party. Jones who will organize coalitions for the campaign.
Newt’s South Carolina Deputy State Directors are Ruth Sherlock and Leslie Gaines, the managing partners of Sherlock and Gaines Consulting Group based in Greenville.
While Newt’s campaign simply announced the the addition of the latest new additions to the South Carolina team of staffers, it was CNN which decided to declare that Gingrich now has the “largest campaign footprint” in South Carolina and although the story is factually true, it is an inaccurate depiction of the real picture.
In truth, it is Mitt Romney who has the best campaign footprint in South Carolina. It is the impression that he left since he first ran for President in 2oo8. Even though that organization has not yet been activated, let there be no mistaking the ability for mit to materialize, especially if popular South Carolina Governor Niki Haley endorses Mitt Romney.
Several weeks ago, Haley made it clear that will she be endorsing a Republican in the Republican presidential primary. She also added that she will be backing a true business leader. That has left White House 2012 wondering if her emphasis on a business leader meant Herman Cain or if it was specifically designed to emphasize Mitt Romney’s business background. Either way, it looks like Newt won’t have the advantage of Niki Haley behind him. However, if the organization he has established in South Carolina is as coordinated and well managed as his structure is, he could turn South Carolina into the last stand for other candidates like Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum. In fact a win by Gingrich in South Carolina will upset the apple cart greatly and make Florida a a primary that seals the deal for someone.
But to make that scenario even more possible for Gingrich, he should also start organizing Iowa and doing so aggressively. If Newt can take first place in Iowa, not only will his chances for victory in South Carolina be better, winning there will make him the undeniable frontrunner.
All this is speculation, but as polls have Romney mired in the mid twenties and as the air slowly escapes from Herman Cain’;s balloon, which it will continue to do, Newt is quickly becoming the alternative to Romney. As Leslie Gaines, one of Gingrich’s South Carolina deputy state directors put it to CNN: deputy state directors put it;
“In 2008 Mitt was the conservative choice to McCain,” Gaines said. “I think Newt is our conservative choice this time around.”
And Gaines should know. In 2008 she briefly served as a fundraising consultant for Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential candidacy.
Newt’s statewide headquarters for South Carolina will be having officially be opening this Saturday, November 12, 2011.
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