More candidates still may jump into the 2018 race to become South Carolina’s next governor, but it looks like only one Democrat, ultimately, will throw his hat into the ring.
State Rep. Justin Bamberg, D-Bamberg, suggested he would join the race in a tweet last Sunday. After criticizing Republican Gov. Henry McMaster’s support of President Donald Trump, Bamberg wrote, “Maybe I should challenge him SC.”
But Bamberg told The Buzz he wouldn’t jump ahead of fellow state Rep. James Smith, D-Richland, who also is considering a campaign for governor.
“I’ve met with him. I admire him and it’s been a pleasure serving with him,” said Bamberg of Smith. “If he pulls the trigger, undoubtedly I’ll support him 110 percent.”
However, until Smith announces that he is running, Bamberg added, “I’ll continue to consider it.”
Bamberg is in his second term in the S.C. House. He has gained a national profile as an attorney for victims of police shootings, after representing the family of slain motorist Walter Scott in a suit against the city of North Charleston.
Smith, an Afghanistan war veteran, says he still is considering running for governor but has no deadline to make a decision.
“It’s a very deliberative process,” the Columbia Democrat said.
“My passion to serve South Carolina is as strong as it’s ever been, but it’s a tremendous decision,” Smith added, citing the strain a campaign would put on his family. Plus, “I’m not independently wealthy.”
At the same time, Smith said, “there’s not a lot of satisfaction with the choices” for governor now being offered S.C. voters.
Bamberg says he would make a decision by Oct. 1 but plans to run for re-election to his House seat regardless.
Another Republican candidate may join the race before then.
State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, plans to make an announcement the week of Labor Day, he confirmed to the Buzz.
Davis, a former chief of staff to then-Gov. Mark Sanford, has said he wants to see a candidate with a more “limited government” point of view.
If Davis runs, he would be the fifth Republican in the race, joining McMaster; Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, like Davis a libertarian; former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill, a onetime Democratic state senator; and former state agency head Catherine Templeton.
Sanford draws a GOP primary opponent
U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-Charleston, may face his own challenge in the 2018 election.
State Rep. Katie Arrington, R-Dorchester, is asking 1st District Republicans to attend a 10 a.m. kickoff event Wednesday, according to the Post and Courier.
Arrington, a defense industry worker in her first term in the Legislature, filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission earlier this month to create a congressional campaign committee.
Sanford has held the 1st District seat since winning a special election in 2013. It is his second stint representing the district, having formerly held the seat from 1994 to 2000 before his two terms as S.C. governor.
The winner of a GOP primary between Arrington and Sanford would face Charleston attorney Joe Cunningham, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 1st District seat.
How’s your pension?
Public employees will have their say Tuesday on the state’s pension system.
The joint House-Senate committee reviewing the Palmetto State’s pension situation will turn the floor over to the State Employees Association, the State Retirees Association, and the Public Safety Coalition, which represents law enforcement officers, at a 10 a.m. meeting at the State House. Public pension experts also are scheduled to speak.
A state law, passed this year to shore up the pension system, requires state and local government workers, including teachers, to chip in more for their pensions. It also requires bigger contributions from public employers — the state, its agencies, counties, cities and schools — and, ultimately, taxpayers.
Other activity at the State House this coming week includes a meeting of:
▪ A House education reform committee at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday
▪ The state’s procurement review panel at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.