By James Smith
This campaign for governor can sometimes feel like two separate conversations that don’t connect at any point.
Our campaign is focused on South Carolina. My running mate, Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, and I are focused exclusively on real issues facing our citizens here at home. We advocate for a brighter future for our state, one in which no South Carolinian is left behind.
The incumbent seems to dwell in a different universe. In his world, all that matters are divisive national litmus-test issues. He recently vetoed millions in health care for the poor simply to deprive a few thousand for a group that his base objects to — and doesn’t even succeed in achieving his stated purpose. To him, it’s not about the people or the policy — it’s about the pose.
CNBC reported last week that “Poor health care is sapping this state’s Southern charm.” In the same week, though, Henry McMaster vetoed $16 million in health care for our state’s poorest citizens — in order to posture on an unrelated national issue. He tried backtracking on that Friday, but the incident illustrated how thoughtless he has been with regard to critical policy.
As governor, I will understand the impact of my vetoes before I make them.
And when the federal government imposes tariffs that threaten thousands of jobs here in South Carolina, McMaster won’t stand up against them.
We think our approach is the right one: focusing on things that matter to being governor and lieutenant governor. We’d like to just ignore McMaster’s polarizing poses. But he makes that hard.
That’s because the national issues he embraces often have such negative effects on South Carolina. So we have to speak out.
Let’s look at what’s ACTUALLY happening in our state as a result of the national policies that he either embraces or just won’t speak out against:
- BMW is one of the great pillars of South Carolina manufacturing, providing almost 10,000 excellent jobs in the Upstate. But with the U.S. imposing arbitrary tariffs and other nations retaliating, BMW plans to build more SUVs overseas. And McMaster has done nothing.
- BMW is just one of several important Upstate manufacturers that have written to the U.S. Commerce Department expressing deep concern about the harm the tariffs could do to their business, and the jobs they provide. And McMaster has done nothing.
- Volvo, which had planned to start building cars near Charleston later this year, is now questioning whether to add those 2,000 high-paying jobs – because of the tariffs. And McMaster has done nothing.
- Two weeks ago, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said South Carolina would be among the states most harmed by tariffs, as $3 billion of our state’s economy depends on international trade. And McMaster has done nothing.
- Last week, the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce appealed to our state’s congressional delegation to do “whatever it takes to inform the administration about the jobs at risk” in our state. And McMaster has done nothing.
- In its annual “Top States for Business” report this past week, CNBC dropped South Carolina to 30th. Our neighbors North Carolina and Georgia both made the top 10. And McMaster has done nothing.
And that’s just what we’ve seen in the last few days.
The governor has made poor, ill-informed decisions, and in other cases — such as the job-killing tariffs — has taken no action at all. His silence on these important issues is deafening.
James Smith is a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives and the Democratic nominee for governor.