Governor Henry McMaster is nominated as 5 Democrats running against him
COLUMBIA, SC — Republican South Carolina governor Henry McMaster won his party’s nomination for a second full term on Tuesday, while five Democratic gubernatorial candidates vied for their party’s nomination.
If McMaster wins the November general election and completes the term, he will become the longest-serving governor in the state’s history.
The governor defeated Harrison Musselwhite, a trucker and former businessman who said he was running to allow open carrying of guns, prevent any government vaccination requirements and eliminate state income taxes.
McMaster let his administration do most of his campaigning, reminding voters how the state’s economy is booming and how he tried to carefully adjust COVID-19 restrictions early in the pandemic. He raised $5 million for his re-election bid.
South Carolina governors are limited to two four-year terms, but if McMaster wins the primary and November election, he has a chance to serve an unprecedented 10 years in office. That’s because he was automatically promoted to the role from his seat as lieutenant governor in January 2017 when Nikki Haley resigned to accept a position in then-President Donald Trump’s administration. McMaster spent Haley’s last two years before being self-elected in 2018.
Five candidates are running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination: Joe Cunningham, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Senator Mia McLeod, Health Administrator Carlton Boyd, hairstylist and musician Calvin “CJ Mack” McMillan, and Vietnam veteran and former postal worker William H. “Cowboy “. Williams.
Most of the attention has been focused on Cunningham and McLeod, who also raised the most money. Cunningham received $1.8 million while McLeod took in about $500,000.
Both candidates have spent time at local party meetings trying to generate grassroots support and emphasize their differences with McMaster rather than each other. In their only debate on Friday after early voting ended, Cunningham and McLeod again spent more time targeting the Republican governor than their three Democratic opponents – only one of whom accepted the invitation to the debate.
McLeod also had a personal falling out on Twitter with Democratic House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, who pointed to infidelity and nepotism after Rutherford supported Cunningham and said McLeod had done little in her 10 years in the General Assembly.
McLeod often envisions herself as the first black woman to run for governor in South Carolina, although she says her primary purpose in running isn’t to make history, but to make a difference. She said South Carolina needs an alternative to the lineup of Democratic men of the “Republican light” who have run and lost the last five gubernatorial races.
Cunningham has struggled with a string of splashy promises like legalizing sports betting and recreational marijuana use.
He also insists he is best positioned to beat McMaster. Citing his ideas and youthfulness, Cunningham has repeatedly highlighted the 35-year age difference between himself and the governor. Cunningham is 40. McMaster is 75. Cunningham also claims that everything the incumbent governor hopes to achieve with four more years of public service should have been done in his first four decades as a politician.