Who is Pamela Evette?
For starters, she is S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster's running mate and his pick for the state's next lieutenant governor. She also is an entrepreneur with a business with revenues of nearly $1 billion a year and a “Trump girl,” who says she never has made a dime off of government.
McMaster announced Tuesday that Evette, a business owner and executive from Travelers Rest, will join his campaign and be named the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor if he wins the Republican nomination for governor in June.
Evette is “ready, willing and able to go to work with me to see that all of our people have the opportunity to accomplish their dreams,” McMaster said, introducing his running mate at a news conference at Mavin Construction in Greenville.
With her husband, three children and other family nearby, Evette said she was honored to share a ticket with McMaster who is “devoted to serving the people of our great state. He has always favored action over rhetoric.”
Despite their different backgrounds, Evette said she and McMaster have complementary skill sets that will serve the state well.
Evette is the president and chief executive officer of Quality Business Solutions, a payroll firm she started with her husband, David. She also is the president of Sunkiko, a human resources and payroll management company.
Evette’s experience in corporate finance and business could help McMaster bolster his campaign theme of economic development. Evette’s company has revenues of almost $1 billion, and 33 full- and part-time employees serving clients in 48 states.
Evette never has run for office before. However, according to the state Ethics Commission’s database, she has donated $3,500 to McMaster’s gubernatorial campaign, and she and her husband gave $40 to former Gov. Nikki Haley’s 2014 campaign.
McMaster met Evette at President Donald Trump’s inauguration – the first inauguration that she ever has attended, Evette said in an interview with The State after Tuesday’s announcement. Evette said she and the governor connected instantly over their early belief Trump would be the next president.
“I was a Trump girl from the beginning,” Evette said. “We laughed about it. When friends were saying, ‘You’re crazy. There’s no way,’ I kept thinking, yes, yes. The silent masses are going to wake up and they are going to want something different, and they did.”
McMaster and Evette said they see her lack of political experience as an asset.
“I deal with so many types of businesses around the country and through the state that I know what people feel,” Evette said. “I know what hurts them and what makes it hard to run their businesses.”
Evette also is a true political outsider, McMaster’s campaign added, contrasting her with GOP rival Catherine Templeton. The Mount Pleasant lawyer, the top challenger to McMaster for the Republican nomination for governor, has been claiming the outsider mantle despite having run two state agencies and, after stepping down, winning two lucrative consulting contracts from state agencies.
“We're so far removed from the political world. We've never had a government client,” Evette said Tuesday. “We've never really taken a dime from any government agency across the country.”
Evette’s selection also:
▪ Brings ties to the GOP voter-rich Upstate that could benefit McMaster, whose roots are in the Midlands. McMaster said while Evette has not been active politically, she is well known in the Upstate as a civic and business leader.
▪ Contrasts to McMaster’s long history in politics — first, as an appointed U.S. attorney under Ronald Reagan; then, as S.C. attorney general; lieutenant governor and, now, governor.
▪ Provides, at 50, a more youthful counterbalance on the campaign trail to the 46-year-old Templeton, who has said McMaster, 70, represents the past.
Reading from prepared remarks during Tuesday’s news conference, Evette delivered an anti-status quo speech, promising to give power back to people.
“Sadly, it (government) has become an obstacle rather than a partner for families in our state,” she said. “Hard working, decent people have not just given up, they’ve concluded that politics is their problem.”
McMaster faces two other challengers so far for the GOP nomination.
Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant of Anderson County and former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill of Williamsburg County also are running.
Bryant cannot seek re-election as lieutenant governor after voters changed state law to require the governor and lieutenant governor to run on the same ticket. Next year is the first time that candidates for the state’s top two offices will run on the same ticket.
No other candidate for governor — Republican or Democrat — thus far has named their running mate.
S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster’s running mate
Name: Pamela Evette
Hometown: Travelers Rest
Job: President and CEO, Quality Business Solutions; president, Sunkiko
Family: Married to David Evette; three children
Education: Cleveland State University, bachelor’s in business administration, accounting and finance
Political experience: None