The first Democratic candidate has entered the race for governor in South Carolina.
State Rep. James Smith, D-Columbia, officially announced the campaign on his website Thursday. “I am running for Governor because I feel like I must do all that I can to fight for the people of South Carolina,” he wrote in the post. “I am running because I want South Carolina to realize her fullest potential and to do that means no one gets left behind.”
The 50-year-old Smith had made no secret about his plans however, previously filing campaign documents with the state Ethics Commission and posting to his Twitter page that he was contemplating a run.
A Democratic candidate has not won the Governor’s Office in South Carolina since then-state Rep. Jim Hodges defeated a sitting governor in 1998. Hodges remains the only challenger in state history to successfully unseat an incumbent governor.
The Columbia attorney and National Guard major has represented central and east Columbia in the South Carolina House since 1997. He is one of his party’s most prominent legislators and has respect from both sides of the aisle in the chamber despite a liberal voting record. Legislation he has sponsored during his time in the House has focused on environmental, veterans and civil rights issues.
Smith served in the Judge Advocate General corps until switching to the Army National Guard after the September 11 attacks. He served as an infantry officer during a 2007-2008 deployment.
“I was privileged to serve with the very best our State and Nation has to offer, alongside real heroes- soldiers who best represent what America stands for,” Smith said in his announcement. “I came home a different man. With a deeper faith. More thankful for my wife and family. Less caught up in the petty politics at the State Capitol. And believing I could do even more. That I was called to do more.”
Three other Republican candidates are challenging incumbent Gov. Henry McMaster for the post: Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, former state Department of Health and Environmental Control director Catherine Templeton and former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill.