Columbia Democrat James Smith picked up the endorsement Wednesday of a women's rights group in the 2018 governor's race, just a month ahead of the three-way Democratic primary.
Planned Parenthood Votes South Atlantic made Smith, a state representative, its first gubernatorial endorsement in South Carolina. The organization began backing political candidates shortly after forming in 2016.
“Throughout James Smith’s tenure in public office, he has been a staunch supporter in the fight for women’s rights and a vocal advocate on the S.C. House floor to protect the fundamental care Planned Parenthood provides to thousands of women, men and young people in South Carolina each year," the organization's public affairs director, Vicki Ringer, said in a statement.
Smith, who has argued against proposed abortion restrictions on the House floor and pushed to expand HPV vaccinations, said he is proud of the endorsement, which came as a debate over a proposed abortion restriction consumed the state Senate.
“Politicians have no place in the exam room and they have no business making deeply personal, medical decisions for a woman and her family," he said. "As governor, I will be a brick wall against any attempt to roll back the rights of the women or restrict access to care in this state.”
Smith faces Florence attorney Marguerite Willis and Charleston business consultant Phil Noble in the June 12 Democratic primary.