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RGA ad critical of South Carolina governor nominee on taxes

August 30, 2018

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A Republican group is doubling down on criticism of South Carolina Democratic gubernatorial nominee James Smith for supporting higher taxes.

The ad is a follow-up to a website the Republican Governors Association launched this summer accusing the longtime state representative of “consistently and shamelessly” supporting tax hikes. The website included no citations, but the ad references bills pertaining to clothing, groceries and income tax.

Audio features Smith saying that he has “supported increases in taxes,” adding after an edited pause, “It was the right thing to do.” The comment echoes statements that Smith has made about a gas tax increase that passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support in 2017.

Smith was one of many lawmakers who backed raising the state’s gas tax to provide reliable revenue to fix South Carolina’s deteriorating roads and bridges after weeks of contentious debate last year. Republican Gov. Henry McMaster fulfilled a pledge to veto any increase, which lawmakers in both chambers then combined to defeat by more than 80 percent.

Republican Governors Association spokesman Jon Thompson tells The Associated Press that the 30-second TV ad starts Thursday in the Columbia media market. It’s funded by State Solutions, an advocacy group affiliated with the RGA.

Smith and McMaster face each other in the general election in November. McMaster, elevated to the state’s top slot last year when Nikki Haley became U.N. Ambassador, is seeking his first full term in office.

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