ROCK HILL, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is facing a spirited challenge as he bids for a second term against former Congressman Joe Cunningham in a race defined by key issues, including the economy and abortion access.
McMaster, a Republican, touts his past four years of work when making his pitch to voters while Cunningham, the Democrat in the race, says residents are ready for a change.
Channel 9′s South Carolina reporter Tina Terry spoke with both candidates as they made their final push to swing voters in their favor.
McMaster was met by a cheering crowd at a campaign event in Rock Hill last week on the first leg of a 19-stop tour before Election Day.
“South Carolina’s on a roll and it’s because we use common sense,” he told the crowd. “Cutting the income tax … the largest cut we’ve ever had. Paying law enforcement officers more, paying teachers more.”
A Democrat hasn’t been South Carolina’s governor since 1998, but recent polling shows Cunningham within striking distance.
“We never think about the polls or anything else. We just work hard, tell the people what we stand for, what we’ve done -- we have a record,” McMaster said.
Last month, Cunningham told Channel 9 his campaign is putting key issues like abortion rights, Medicaid expansion and sports betting at the forefront.
“Putting aside partisan politics, we’re putting out the message of freedom, and getting rid of career politicians is something that Democrats and Republicans can get behind,” Cunningham said.
Some of Cunningham’s supporters are hopeful that moderate women will show up to vote this election and give the Democrat the momentum he needs to pull off an upset victory.
“I’m from the generation of Roe v. Wade,” Barbara Styer told Channel 9. “We fought for the women’s rights in the 70s, and you’re gonna find the baby boomers are a big supporter of this situation because women don’t like their rights taken away.”
Cunningham says he is against efforts by lawmakers in South Carolina to put more restrictions on abortion in the state.
“We’re running a campaign on more freedom. Giving women the freedom to run their own bodies,” Cunningham said. “I think the state had it right under Roe before they passed the six-week abortion ban with the 20-week abortion ban giving women the opportunity and adequate freedom to control their very own body.”
McMaster has been outspoken about protecting the lives of the unborn. He said lawmakers are just listening to the people.
“Whatever changes they make will be reasonable,” he said. “They’re not going to be radical. They’re going to be reasonable and acceptable to most of the people in the state.”
The governor also said he’ll focus on the economy.
“People want jobs, careers,” McMaster said. “They want their children to have great opportunities.”
>> In the video at the top of this story Channel 9′s full interview with the candidates contending to be South Carolina’s governor.
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