Democrats James Smith, Mandy Powers Norrell campaign across Aiken County
State Rep. James Smith’s gubernatorial campaign spent Thursday blazing through Aiken.
Smith, D-Columbia, and his running mate – state Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell of Lancaster – visited the party’s county headquarters and the Clyburn Center for Primary Care; discussed environmental stewardship, voter turnout and youth engagement with conservationists and USC Aiken students downtown at What’s Cookin’; and held a town hall at Friendship Baptist Church.
Elise Fox, a Democrat running against state Rep. Bart Blackwell, R-Aiken, served as the campaign’s guide.
The tour was capped at the Aiken County Democratic Party’s 16th annual fish fry where Norrell spoke in place of Smith, the original lead speaker.
In introducing Norrell, state Rep. Bill Clyburn, D-Aiken, described the lieutenant governor candidate as different – in a good way – and as a legislative genius.
“If you don’t know her,” Clyburn said, “you’re going to get to know her. You’re going to get to know her well.”
Norrell’s 35-minute speech was well-received and, at multiple points, elicited laughter and supportive groans from the audience.
Norrell’s speech touched on the Charleston church shooting, the Confederate flag – “Y’all, we’ve come a long way” – and attaining a Democratic majority at the legislative level.
Her speech also addressed the campaign’s progress and energy.
“Everywhere we go we feel this energy and this happiness, and I always feel that among Democrats,” Norrell said.
Earlier in the day, Smith said his gubernatorial bid continues to gain traction.
“So going into this and where we stand right now, I mean, we couldn’t feel better about our chances,” Smith said. “We’re encouraged by the financial support that we get, and we’re encouraged by the energy that we see, and I think there’s a real enthusiasm gap in this race.”
Smith, facing two opponents, was the clear Democratic favorite in Aiken County, according to primary results. S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster, facing four opponents, secured less than 40 percent of Aiken County’s Republican vote during the primary and more than 64 percent of the county’s Republican vote during the party runoff.
Smith said the Aiken County visit served many purposes, including meeting party leaders and connecting with university students.
“We’re doing a push in all of our institutions of higher education,” Smith said.
On Sept. 19, Smith and Norrell attended an event at Benedict College. The campaign has also made a fair share of college football stop-ins.
“We’ve come a long way,” Norrell said. “We’ll sleep on Nov. 7, because we have 46 days to go to win this election and change our state for the better.”