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CofC Political Science Professor Believes Bannon's Visit Will Benefit SC GOP Candidates

Steve Bannon speaking (WCIV)

As a former chief white house strategist for President Trump, Steve Bannon brings conservative and sometimes controversial credentials with his visit to The Citadel. Still, Governor Henry McMaster and two people who hope to become governor plan to attend.

"Trump is still popular in South Carolina. He still has over 50% approval rating. And Bannon to some is a surrogate of the Trump administration. So that by association could pull in in some votes for the candidates," said Dr. Kendra Stewart, a political science professor at the College of Charleston.

She sees McMaster, Catherine Templeton, and Kevin Bryant's planned attendance as a way to embrace Bannon's role as someone who shook up the Washington D.C. establishment.

"He has definitely been framing himself as an outsider. And we have three candidates who recognize the value of the outside vote. The non-status quo vote in South Carolina," she said.

And as the race for governor heats up, so too will the need for campaign cash. That's another attraction to the former Trump strategist.

"If Bannon followers were to be attracted to one of these candidates it could be very lucrative for the candidate from a fundraising perspective," Dr. Stewart said.

As police patrol the perimeter of the Holliday Alumni Center, Dr. Stewart believes opponents of Steve Bannon won't influence those who support him.

"Having a small minority of folks who don't like you isn't going to be a big problem," she said.

Doctor Stewart is also director of the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Center for Liveable Communities at the College of Charleston. She says she worked with Bannon on a focus group project during the Obama - Romney presidential campaign.

She remembers him as a professional who was well-read and understood the conservative electorate.

“We see shrinking support of both parties. And I think Steve Bannon has been one of the people who's been studying that for a while and understands where that gap is. And is interested in capitalizing on that and taking advantage of that," she said.

Professor Stewart says she keeps in touch with Steve Bannon occasionally, although she doesn't have plans to see him at Friday’s Patriots Dinner sponsored by The Citadel Republican Society.

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