on July 19, 2007 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

What secret?

CLEMSON — Rep. Gresham Barrett’s gubernatorial interests are a “badly kept secret,” according to Clemson University political scientist Dave Woodard. Rumors of a possible Barrett run for governor in 2010 were stoked by direct mail pieces sent by the congressman’s office to homes well outside his district.

Woodard’s name has also been in the news. Online outlets reported Wednesday that the famed CU pundit had signed on as a consultant to Fred Thompson’s imminent presidential campaign. Although Woodard denied the stories, he wouldn’t rule out future offers.

The Barrett mailers — which concerned immigration reform — were sent in early July. Residents in Richland and Lexington counties were among the non-Third District citizenry to receive the material.

Barrett spokesperson Colleen Mangone denied the out-of-district mailers were used to test gubernatorial waters.

“That’s something he’s done in the past to get a feel how South Carolinians feel on big issues, such as immigration,” Mangone said of Barrett. “Rep. Barrett is flattered anytime anyone mentions his name in regard to (the governor’s) office. But he’s busy working hard for the people of the Third District and preparing for a re-election campaign in 2008.”

According to Woodard, Barrett’s personal integrity and experience in Washington would serve the congressman well if he chose to run for governor.

“He’s been a player in presidential politics before,” Woodard said. “In a political environment where people have become disenfranchised with people like Bill Clinton — you’re not going to have to worry about that with Gresham Barrett. That is his greatest appeal and why people are beginning to gravitate towards him.”

Woodard believe a crowded heat could pose a major challenge to a possible Barrett gubernatorial campaign. But Woodard refuted the notion that hailing from the Upstate would pose political problems.

“At one time where you were located was an issue, but I don’t believe it is in the age of Internet and TV,” Woodard said. “When there’s a good candidate people are going to vote for them.”

Woodard said online media were responsible for chatter regarding his own political future. He called reports of a consultation gig with Thompson as “undocumented.” According to Woodard, the rumors likely started because of his friendship with Barrett, who recently publicly expressed his wishes for Thompson to enter the 2008 White House fray.

A self-professed “political junkie,” Woodard has recently attended presidential campaign events for Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. According to Woodard, early items of note from the 2008 presidential race include: the demise of the Sen. John McCain campaign, Romney overcoming resistance in the South and Obama’s meteoric rise. When pressed for forecasts, Woodard predicted Obama would prevail over Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination and a Republican standoff between Thompson and Romney.