Politics & Government

Libertarian joins SC governor’s race

Steve French, a Charleston-area businessman, said Friday that he will run for S.C. governor this year as a Libertarian.

The 33-year-old father of one said he supports a “fair” tax that eliminates the income and corporate taxes in favor of a sales tax on all items, legalization of marijuana, ending restrictions on gay marriage and abortion rights. “I am the only pro-choice candidate,” he added.

French operates a business that collects used cooking grease from restaurants to sell to companies that convert it into biofuel.

The North Carolina native has lived in South Carolina for six years. This is his first run for political office. French launched a website and social media pages this week.

French was a Democrat until 9/11 when he said he was converted by President George W. Bush’s call for a strong reaction after the terrorist attacks. He worked with Republican Elizabeth Dole’s unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign in North Carolina but grew disillusioned with both parties during the financial crisis. “They weren’t speaking for me any more.”

French voted for the Libertarian presidential candidates in 2008 — Bob Barr — and 2012 — Gary Johnson.

French said he does not consider himself a potential spoiler for either of the two presumed major party S.C. gubernatorial candidates, Republican Gov. Nikki Haley or Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen.

He said he wants to increase transparency in state government — something not happening as well as he would like under Haley.

French said he envisions voters angered at current politics, who might have been inclined to sit at home on Election Day, coming out to vote for him.

“I don’t think everyone has a voice,” French said. “I want to be the pragmatic, rational candidate and shine a light on all of this.”

2014 elections: Steve French, the Libertarian candidate for S.C. governor

Age: 33

Residence: Mount Pleasant

Family: Wife, Beth; son, Charlie

Occupation: Chief executive of Lowcountry Grease Service

Hometown: Born in Raleigh; raised in Wilmington, N.C.

Education: Attended N.C. State University, left just shy of getting a business/political science degree

Previous political experience: None

Political role models: Ron Paul for domestic issues and former President Bill Clinton for foreign policy and as a politician