A proposed televised debate in the race for South Carolina’s governor has been canceled after Republican Gov. Nikki Haley declined to take part.
Haley’s Democratic opponent Vincent Sheheen said in a statement Monday that he would also pull out of the October 20 debate in Columbia unless Haley agreed to participate.
“Today we notified ETV that, as with the debate proposed by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, I will participate in the debates when Nikki Haley agrees to join us,” Sheheen said in an emailed statement.
That left only petition candidate Tom Ervin remaining, so ETV said it was canceling the event. The cancellation is significant as SCETV is traditionally the only statewide media outlet to televise political debates in South Carolina. The channel still plans to host the candidates for lieutenant governor, education superintendent, and candidates in both U.S. Senate races (although incumbent Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has indicated he will not participate)
The candidates for governor are still scheduled to appear in two debates. One debate is scheduled for Charleston on October 14, while a second follows a week later in Greenville on October 21. Libertarian candidate Steve French and United Citizens nominee Morgan Bruce Reeves are also running.
Polling has shown Haley as the frontrunner, with Sheheen trailing by anywhere from three to ten points depending on the poll.
Meanwhile, The State newspaper reported Monday that SCETV will try to reschedule the Education Superintendent debate which had been planned for Thursday. The paper reported that Republican Molly Spearman canceled her appearance after her brother’s death over the weekend.