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SC Governor’s Race: Meet the Candidates

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The race to be South Carolina’s next governor is heating up following the conclusion of the primary elections earlier this summer. Republicans selected incumbent Governor Henry McMaster in a close race against businessman John Warren in the primary runoff election on June 26. Gov. McMaster chose Pamela Evette, a Greenville businesswoman, to be his running mate in the general election. This is the first year that South Carolina voters will elect their governor and lieutenant governor on the same ticket.

Gov. McMaster initially entered the governor’s office following the resignation of former Gov. Nikki Haley to become Ambassador to the United Nations. During his 30+ year tenure in politics, McMaster has served as U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina, state Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor, and Chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party. McMaster has pledged to cut taxes, put a police officer in every school, and complete the 526 extension. He has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and President Trump.

On the Democratic side, voters nominated Columbia-area lawyer Rep. James Smith, who won his primary election handily against two other candidates. Rep. Smith picked fellow state representative Mandy Powers Norrell as his choice for Lieutenant Governor. Smith has served as a state representative since 1996. He has also maintains a private law practice in Columbia. Over the course of his campaign, Smith has promised to expand Medicaid, ban assault weapons, and introduce ethics reform. He has been endorsed by former Vice President Joe Biden and former Mayor of Charleston Joe Riley. If he wins in November, Mr. Smith would be the first Democratic governor of South Carolina elected in 20 years.

The race appears competitive, with the most recent public poll showing a four-point race. It appears the incumbent is taking the race seriously, as Gov. McMaster launched a number of attack ads against the Democratic candidate in recent weeks.

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