Politics & Government

McMaster gives Democrat Smith an ‘F’ in back-to-school ad

A ‘back-to-school’ ad from SC Gov. Henry McMaster’s campaign gives opponent James Smith an ‘F’
A ‘back-to-school’ ad from SC Gov. Henry McMaster’s campaign gives opponent James Smith an ‘F’

As school starts back up, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster is using the occasion to take a shot at his Democratic election opponent.

A new “back-to-school” ad campaign launched Thursday by Republican McMaster’s campaign issues letter grades to James Smith on various election issues. Unsurprisingly, the initial ad, provided to The State, gave the Democrat an “F.”

The ad launched Thursday fails Smith on attendance, saying he “walked out of a vote to cut rates for power customers.”

Smith opposed a compromise 15 percent rate cut for SCE&G customers, arguing the utility’s customers should not have to pay any of the cost of a failed nuclear plant. McMaster also opposed the compromise, vetoing the version passed by the Legislature in June. When lawmakers overrode McMaster’s veto, Smith and his running mate — state Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, D-Lancaster — walked out of the House and did not vote.

“Let’s be clear: Henry McMaster is the candidate of the big utilities,” said Smith spokesman Brad Warthen, pointing to Smith’s support of sharply reducing power rates and renewable energy, including an unsuccessful effort to lift the cap on solar power from 4 percent to 2 percent this year.

“These are the same big utilities that have given Henry more than $100,000 that he refuses to give back,” Warthen said. “Is this how he’s spending that money, on dishonest ads that try to mislead people as to who is standing up for ratepayers?”

Smith has also accepted contributions from SCE&G parent company SCANA — $500 from the company’s employee PAC in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Smith’s campaign previously told The State those contributions have been distributed to neighborhood associations and other non-profits.

The series of ads will appear in voters’ Facebook and Twitter feeds for about a week. It is the McMaster campaign’s first digital ad buy of the fall election season. The campaign did not disclose how much the ad campaign is costing.

McMaster spokesman Caroline Anderegg said ads will run on multiple platforms — on the internet and TV — during the fall campaign season.

“Over the next several weeks, we will introduce voters to the real James Smith — a liberal Democrat that is in line with the most far-left Washington politicians and out of step with everyday South Carolinians,” Anderegg said.