From Politico News: Tim Scott has tapped former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam as national co-chair of his imminent presidential campaign, part of a slate of nationwide and homestate allies the South Carolina senator is assembling ahead of his launch next week.
Michael “Mikee” Johnson, a South Carolina-based business leader, is set to be Scott’s national finance co-chair, according to a person familiar with Scott’s plans, while Zac Moffatt, CEO of the Republican political firm Targeted Victory, will have a senior campaign role.
Haslam, who in office gained a reputation as a pragmatic conservative willing, at times, to speak out against Donald Trump, served as chair of the Republican Governors Association from 2017 to 2018, toward the end of his second term.
The former governor’s decision to get on board with the campaign suggests Scott will secure support from high-profile Republicans beyond his colleagues in the Senate — 11 of whom have endorsed Trump, while the majority of GOP senators remain on the sidelines. It also opens the door for Scott to a new network of donors and relationships that Haslam, a billionaire himself, has at his disposal.
“In the end, one of the things I learned from being in elected office is it really does matter who we elect,” Haslam told POLITICO. “The more I talked to Tim, the more I became convinced that he’s got a message that the country really needs to hear right now.”
The two men crossed paths at the same speaking events on several occasions over the last couple of years, going on to develop a relationship. Since then, Haslam has met with Scott more than once in South Carolina.
Johnson, an entrepreneur who currently serves as CEO of U.S. Brick, was also a longtime donor and ally of Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador — and now presidential candidate — with whom Johnson attended high school in Bamberg County.
Haslam’s tenure as governor coincided with both Haley and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is also seeking the Republican nomination. His support of Scott marks the first time Haslam has publicly endorsed a political candidate since leaving office in early 2019.
After launching an exploratory committee last month, Scott said he will make a formal announcement May 22 in his hometown of North Charleston, at his alma mater Charleston Southern University. He’ll join a growing field of candidates attempting what appears to be an increasingly difficult task of overtaking Trump to be the GOP standard bearer.
Haley launched her own campaign in Charleston in February, followed by biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has already begun holding early-state events, is expected to announce his bid in the coming weeks. Former Vice President Mike Pence continues to mull a decision, while Trump critics like Chris Christie and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu are also teasing interest in a run.
Scott enters the presidential field with more than $21 million in his federal campaign account — more than any other Republican in the race. A candidate’s own funds, which receive more favorable advertising rates, go significantly farther than super PAC money. That sets up Scott to get more bang for his buck on TV as DeSantis and other opponents start from scratch in building up new federal campaign accounts.