Gubernatorial debate coming to Florence

October 4, 2018

FLORENCE, S.C. – Florence will host the first of two gubernatorial debates between incumbent Republican Henry McMaster and Democrat James Smith.

The debate is scheduled for 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 17, at the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center in downtown Florence. The debate will take place less than three weeks before the Nov. 6 general election.

Matt McColl, director of media relations for Francis Marion University, said Wednesday afternoon that the university is excited to play host to the debate.

Caroline Anderegg, a spokeswoman for the McMaster campaign, said in a news release that the state needs a leader who understands what it takes to build on the momentum of 23,000 new jobs added and a record low unemployment rate and that the governor looks forward to sharing how his plans stand in contrast to Smith’s.

Brad Warthen, a spokesman for the Smith campaign, said the candidate was looking forward to visiting the Pee Dee and seeing the areas impacted by Hurricane Florence again. Warthen added that Smith is excited about presenting voters with a choice between the candidates. He called the decision to hold the debate in Florence a “great choice.”

McMaster was elevated to governor in January 2017 following Nikki Haley’s resignation after she was appointed and approved as ambassador to the United Nations. McMaster was elected to the lieutenant governor position in 2014. From 2002-2010, he served as South Carolina’s attorney general. McMaster also has unsuccessfully run for governor, lieutenant governor and the U.S. Senate.

Smith is a longtime member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from House District 72, which includes a portion of western Richland County. He is a native of Columbia and served in the Army as both a JAG officer and an infantryman. He is currently a member of the South Carolina Army National Guard. Smith also operates his own law firm in the Columbia area.

According to a news release issued Wednesday by Francis Marion University, a limited number of tickets are available free of charge at the Performing Arts Center’s box office during business hours. There will be no reserved tickets for the debate, and there will be a limit of two tickets per person coming to pick them up.

The doors are scheduled to open at 6 p.m., and the audience will be required to be seated by 6:30 p.m.

The other gubernatorial debate is scheduled for 7p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, at the Greenville Technical College Technical Resource Center Auditorium.

The two candidates’ running mates, Pamela Evette and Mandy Powers Norrell, will participate in a lieutinent governor debate at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29 at the SC ETV studios in Columbia. Evette, McMaster’s lieutenant governor nominee, is an upstate businesswoman who co-founded a company along with her husband. Norrell, Smith’s lieutenant governor nominee, is the representative for South Carolina House District 44 in her home county of Lancaster. She also is a lawyer.

The debates are being hosted by the Post and Courier and South Carolina ETV.

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