Politics & Government

Charleston's Phil Noble chooses running mate in the Democratic race for SC governor

Charleston businessman Phil Noble said Thursday that Gloria Tinubu will join him on the ticket in the Democratic race for S.C. governor.

In an interview with The State, the 66-year-old Noble said Tinubu fits all three criteria for the person he wanted as his running mate.

Noble said Tinubu has the background, skills and talent to "be the governor if I got run over a bus."

"I wanted someone who was not a part of the State House system," he said. "I wanted a woman for obvious reasons. Women have been shut out of the process. They have been marginalized and have been discriminated (against). The one single thing I could do is pick a woman to say, 'We're going to change that.' "

Candidates for S.C. governor can run on a joint ticket for the first time this year, choosing their lieutenant governor-running mate who acts as a surrogate on the campaign trail.

Noble will face state Rep. James Smith of Columbia and Florence attorney Marguerite Willis in the June 12 Democratic primary. Smith and Willis also have selected their running mates — state Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell of Lancaster and state Sen. John Scott of Columbia, respectively.

A self-proclaimed underdog who never has held elected political office, Noble's addition of Tinubu to his ticket adds a breadth of political experience. However, not in South Carolina.

A Georgetown native, Tinubu, 65, twice ran unsuccessfully for the 7th District seat in U.S. House in 2012 and 2014. But most of her political experience came in Georgia. There, she was on Atlanta City Council and the Georgia Board of Education. She also was elected to the Georgia Legislature and ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Atlanta.

A Howard University graduate, Tinubu also holds master's in economics and doctorate degrees in agriculture economics from Clemson University.

Tinubu is a longtime educator, having chaired the economics department at Spelman College in Atlanta, and taught at Coastal Carolina University and in Georgetown County's public schools. Most recently, she was economic development director for the city of Georgetown.

"She's very much a representative of this 'new South Carolina' that is what we've got to build," Noble said.

Maayan Schechter: 803-771-8657, @MaayanSchechter