WASHINGTON — South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson, the conservative Republican best known outside his home state for yelling “You lie!” at President Obama as the president spoke to a joint session of Congress, will co-chair Tim Pawlenty’s campaign in South Carolina.
Said Wilson in a statement: “As South Carolinians get to know Governor Pawlenty, as I have, they will see someone with a remarkable record of conservative accomplishments in a politically tough state for Republicans, and someone who has the kind of bold vision for America’s future that we need to defeat Barack Obama.”
Pawlenty, in turn, hailed Wilson as a “strong conservative voice for the people of South Carolina over the past decade.”
Two really important things to note here. First, Wilson is the first member of Congress outside of Minnesota to back Pawlenty.
Second, Wilson’s endorsement shows that Pawlenty’s alignment and contributions strategy in South Carolina may be paying off. Here’s what we wrote in July of 2010:
Freedom First donated almost $84,000 this quarter, with much of that going to very conservative GOP candidates. Perhaps the best example of that is in South Carolina.
Pawlenty’s PAC gave $2,000 to South Carolina’s Joe Wilson (the guy who yelled “You Lie” when President Obama spoke to Congress last September), $2,000 to Trey Gowdy (who knocked off the very-conservative-but-apparently-not-enough Rep. Bob Inglis in a primary), $3,500 to gubernatorial candidate and rising star Nikki Haley and a further $3,000 to Sen. Jim DeMint (with no dollars set aside for his counterpart, the more moderate Lindsay Graham).
The South Carolina GOP has an ascendent right wing that has made it a goal to overhaul the Republican brand in that state, and eventually across the nation. The crown jewel endorsement will be DeMint, the conservative GOP kingmaker in the upper house who has financed Tea Party challengers to more moderate U.S. senators, and a guy whom even Michele Bachmann says she wants to emulate.
Getting Wilson on board is a sign that the strategy has worked out initially, at least in part.