On Tuesday sources close to Det Bowers, a well known Christian pastor, reported that he has raised $417,000 in the two months since he joined the race to defeat incumbent Senator Lindsay Graham in South Carolina’s Republican U.S. Senate primary this June.
Until news of this fundraising success, it appeared that Graham would easily get the 50 percent of votes needed to avoid a primary runoff. But the emergence of Bowers as the first quarter money raising front runner among the Graham’s six challengers is the first news prompting a reassessment.
The unanswered question, for the moment, is whether Bowers can win votes as readily as he can raise money.
According to the Winthrop Poll taken in February prior to Bowers entry into the race, none of the other five challengers received more than 9 percent of the vote against Graham, who polled at 45 percent. While that number is below the magic 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff, a weak field with little money would make it fairly easy for Graham to add 5 percent to his totals by primary day on June 10.
State Senator Lee Bright led the challengers with 9 percent of the vote. While Bright is very popular among libertarians, he has been weighed-down by his debt from a trucking business he operated that went south.
Bowers is not without his weaknesses. In 1988, when he was a Democrat, he served as the State Chairman for the Michael Dukakis for President campaign, a point Graham’s allies are quick to make.
Katon Dawson, former Chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party and head of a Super PAC supporting Graham, said “Det’s a former a Democratic political operative and pretty good at it, except for running Dukakis’s campaign in South Carolina. But he’s a known commodity in the Democratic world.”
According to Dawson, Bowers has “moved into an evangelical world and will easily be able to wash off the Democratic stuff by being pro-life and speaking from the pulpit.”
Bowers, whose full name is de Treville F. Bowers, Jr., wrote and published a leather bound pamphlet in 2009, America Upon His Shoulders, which is sure to raise questions about his views on the relationship between church and state.
“Governments cannot be neutral toward religion,” he wrote. “Secularism is a religion. When the policies of government are divorced from Christianity, the state is ceded to an anti-Christian agenda. Neutrality is myth.”
He also wrote that “the American form of government cannot succeed except in a milieu pervaded with Christianity. An effective democracy requires a voluntary surrender of rights, lifestyles and agenda. A true social contract between the individual units within a nation requires a covenant relationship with Christ.”
“Our government,” he concluded, “should be governed by the principles of historic Protestantism while at the same time giving full religious freedom to those of differing beliefs. That has been the position of our courts until recent years when secularism reared its venomous serpentine head.”
According to his campaign website, Bowers opposes further increases in the debt ceiling, supports traditional marriage between one man and one woman, and pledges to serve no more than two terms if elected. While critical of the Affordable Care Act, he does not call for its repeal.
Bowers practiced law for twenty years before devoting his last twenty years to Christian ministry.
Though neither Governor Nikki Haley nor Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) have endorsed Graham, the national groups who have backed Tea Party challengers in other Senate races–Club for Growth, the Senate Conservative Fund, the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, Tea Party Express, and the Madison Project–have not indicated so far a willingness to back a champion from among the current field of Graham challengers.
News of Bowers’ fundraising success, however, could change that. If so, they will have to act fast, because only two months remain until primary election day.
Image source: The State