The 49-year-old attorney – who has spent the past two decades in the S.C. House of Representatives – announced this week that he was launching a website in the hopes of gathering “support and input from South Carolinians” as he considers a gubernatorial run.
The website – JamesSmith.com – will provide those who click on it “an opportunity to learn more about James’ service to our state and nation and to allow feedback on the direction of our state.”
A war hero who re-enlisted to fight in the “War on Terror” in Afghanistan, Smith has been touted as a statewide candidate for nearly a decade. In fact many Democrats believe he should have run in 2010 or 2014 as opposed to two-time gubernatorial nominee Vincent Sheheen.
Sheheen’s second campaign against incumbent GOP governor Nikki Haley, in particular, was an unmitigated disaster – and the veteran State Senator now finds himself staring down a credible challenge of his own in 2020.
Smith has represented S.C. House district 72 (map) for the past two decades – including his active duty tour in Afghanistan from February 2007 to May of 2008. He served as minority leader for four years of his tenure.
“I am humbled by the support I have received from South Carolinians across our beautiful state to consider higher office,” Smith said in a statement. “As I travel the state, I continue to hear that they are simply not happy with their current choices for Governor in 2018. I believe South Carolinians deserve leaders who care more about doing their job than keeping their job, serving the people of South Carolina first and always.”
Smith said he will make a decision on the race sometime next month.
So far there are four announced candidates seeking this office, all of them running as “Republicans.” They are: Incumbent governor Henry McMaster of Columbia, S.C. (the career politician), attorney Catherine Templeton of Mount Pleasant, S.C. (the attractive newcomer), lieutenant governor Kevin Bryant of Anderson, S.C. (the social conservative crusader) and former lieutenant governor Yancey McGill of Kingstree, S.C. (the former Democrat).
Three Democrats – Smith, State Senator John Scott and state representative Justin Bamberg – are considering running.
Given the decidedly “Republican” partisan lean of the Palmetto State, any Democratic candidate faces long odds in a general election. In fact it’s been nearly twenty years since a Democrat last won the South Carolina governor’s office – a trend that’s unlikely to change anytime soon despite years of GOP corruption and incompetence.
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