South Carolina

New ads target Upstate voters over abortion, ethics in SC governor’s race

Hear opening statements from the McMaster vs. Smith governor debate

Henry McMaster and James Smith are running for South Carolina Governor. Here are their opening statements from the governor debate in Florence on October 17.
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Henry McMaster and James Smith are running for South Carolina Governor. Here are their opening statements from the governor debate in Florence on October 17.

The candidates for S.C. governor are battling over conservative Upstate voters.

Republican Gov. Henry McMaster’s campaign this week released an ad knocking Democratic state Rep. James Smith over abortion. Meanwhile, a third-party group is targeting Republican McMaster over ethics.

Both ads are running in the Upstate, where McMaster.received 36 percent of the votes in Anderson, Greenville, Laurens, Oconee, Pickens and Spartanburg counties in the June 26 GOP primary runoff.

Democrat Smith and his lieutenant governor-running mate, state Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, D-Lancaster, have spent much of their time campaigning in the Upstate. The pair have said they are eager to turn the conservative stronghold into a competitive playing field for Democrats.

The McMaster campaign’s ad, also airing in the Myrtle Beach market, slams Smith for his opposition to abortion restrictions.

McMaster campaign spokeswoman Caroline Anderegg said the governor “is educating the electorate” of Smith’s record.

However, Smith’s campaign said McMaster is trying to divide S.C. voters.

“From the beginning, Henry has been about trying to divide the electorate along partisan ideological lines, and we’ve been all about the opposite.,” Smith campaign spokesman Brad Warthen said. “We’re talking about roads. We’re talking about schools. We’re talking about public health – about the things everybody wants and expects from state government. … Things we can find agreement on, if only we set our differences aside, and making those things better.”

Meanwhile, a group linked to Tyler Jones, a former spokesman for the S.C. House Democratic Caucus, made a $54,240 ad buy in the Upstate on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to filings with the Federal Communications Commission.

The ads, purchased by South Carolinians for Ethical Leadership, go after McMaster for his ties to Richard Quinn, the former McMaster adviser and longtime Columbia consultant indicted in a State House corruption probe, while playing up Smith as a decorated combat veteran, according to an FCC filing.

“James Smith is a Columbia swamp creature that’s been in public office far longer than Henry McMaster and was mentioned more times in the grand jury report,” Anderegg said.

Jones, who also is helping the campaign of Democratic 1st District congressional candidate Joe Cunningham, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Smith, too, has ties to Quinn. But both Smith and McMaster have said they had no involvement in the pay-for-influence schemes that the state grand jury says Quinn orchestrated in the General Assembly.

Both also say they back strengthening the state’s ethics laws.

Tom Barton: 803-771-8304, @tjbarton83
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