Deep-red South Carolina is where the voters haven’t elected a Democratic governor for nearly 25 years. Democrats on Tuesday’s ballot aren’t trying to appeal or moderates aEUR", but rather, they are pushing priorities that are more familiar to blue-state voters.
Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris was at a party fundraiser held in Columbia, S.C. and inspired voters and candidates. She said, "Let's fight to get Democrats up the state ballots."
The incumbent Republican governor should be defeated. It would be a challenge to defeat Henry McMaster in November. McMaster is still popular in the state, where Republicans control both the houses of the state legislature and both U.S. Senate slots. Six out of seven Congress seats are held by Republicans.
Five candidates are on Tuesday's Democratic primary ballot, including Joe Cunningham, former Congressman, and Mia McLeod (state senator).
McMaster is a governor who faces no primary challenge, and has far outraised his most prominent Democratic opponents.
McMaster was the lieutenant governor of the state and took the office as governor in 2017 when former President Donald Trump appointed him. Nikki Haley was appointed ambassador to the United Nations.
McLeod stated that South Carolina Democrats must stop being "scared" and stop acting as "Republicanlites" in Friday's debate. They don't appear to want to be grabbing McMaster's loyalists when it comes down to the issues like the minimum wage, climate change or legalizing pot.
Governor McMaster quietly signed a bill into law this year. McMaster quietly signed into law a bill that prohibits transgender students playing in girls' or womens' sports.
Cunningham stated that Friday's debate should focus on the topic using compassion and empathy.
McMaster is a man of great stature, he said.
McLeod said that it was "amazing" that a Republican majority finds the time to prioritize meaningless bills. "I understand what it feels like to be discriminated against."
Medicaid expansion is a top issue for Democrats. South Carolina is one 12 state aEUR", most of which are located in the south, that has not expanded Medicaid to individuals below 138% of Federal Poverty Level or $17,774 per individual in 2021. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, South Carolina could insure an additional 100,000 people.
Republicans, including Gov. McMaster and other Republicans have been resisting expansion for years. "Expanding Medicaid will cost the state hundreds and millions of dollars each year," McMaster wrote last year on Twitter. "And I will fight any attempt to do it here."
South Carolina has an abortion ban in place for six weeks, should Roe v. Wade be overturned. McMaster signed the law, but it was quickly blocked by the federal court. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently awaiting the decision.
The draft opinion that showed justices were moving towards reverse Roe was leaked to the high court last month. Democrats made abortion the central issue of their campaign in South Carolina. Cunningham published this ad. He says that the stakes of this election are unrivalled. "These healthcare decisions should be made between women and doctors."
McLeod's campaign site highlights McLeod's introduction of something called the "The Viagra Bill" to expose the hypocrisy in the legislature's "war on women." McLeod continues to state that "the attack upon reproductive rights is dangerous, economically and socially."
Seven years after nine Black church-goers were murdered by a Charleston terrorist in a racially motivated massacre, the primary election falls.
McMaster is still a major campaign issue on gun rights. He has been endorsed by The National Rifle Association. The governor signed a law last year that allowed South Carolinians openly to carry firearms.
McLeod stated Friday that South Carolina does not have to "reinvent" the wheel when it comes to guns. McLeod stated that AR-15s should not be left in civilian hands and she supports so-called "red Flag" laws.
Cunningham stated that "our gun violence is out-of control" during the debate. He also highlighted his track record in pushing gun control legislation through Congress.
Acacia Squires, NPR's state editor for government, is Acacia Squires.