T&D: Democratic gubernatorial candidates take stage in Orangeburg

March 22, 2018
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Democratic gubernatorial candidates take stage in Orangeburg
Orangeburg T&D
Martha Rose Brown
March 22, 2018

The three Democrats seeking to become governor of the Palmetto State were represented in Orangeburg on Thursday night.

Phil Noble, a business and technology consultant from Charleston; Marguerite Willis, an attorney from Florence and Rep. James Smith, an attorney from Columbia are seeking the office.

Noble and Willis, and a representative for Smith, spoke during the Orangeburg County Democratic Party convention on Thursday night.

Noble told the crowd, “We have a system of plantation politics that’s running this state.”

“And you know what plantation politics is, right? It’s the folks in the big house, they get together and the first thing they do is they take care of each other and then they tell everybody else, ‘This is what it’s going to be and if you don’t like it, too bad, that’s the way it is,’” Noble said.

Noble said the citizens of South Carolina have “lived under that for too long.”

“We don’t have to,” he said. “We can change that because the people in this state want to change that.”

Noble noted, “The education system is a fraud for our children.”

He said the way to keep South Carolina from being ranked last in the nation in education is to elect Democrats.

“We, as Democrats, have lost seven out of eight of the last elections,” he said.

Noble also claimed that Smith, “four times has had an A-rating from the (National Rifle Association) and three times he’s been endorsed by the NRA.”

Next to take the stage was Willis, who said, “I’m running against Henry McMaster and his puppet master Donald J. Trump.”

“I am sick to death over what is going on in the president’s office in this country and I’m sick to death of what’s happening in the governor’s office in this state,” she said.

“We’re going to change all of that,” she added.

Willis said five years ago, she heard a sermon about the familiar Bible story of the Good Samaritan.

In the story, a Samaritan takes a wounded man to an inn to get aid to get back on his feet again.

She said the government can be like the inn featured in the story.

“Nobody’s going to be poverty-stricken, sick or lost on the road in the state when I’m governor,” she said.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the wall Donald Trump wants to build isn’t between this country and Mexico, it’s between all of us. It’s between old and poor, young and healthy, black and white,” Willis said.

She said her career as an attorney has provided her with opportunities to solve expensive problems involving companies in litigation. She said she’s ready to work out the state’s problems with the same skills.

“If you don’t get out and vote, you’re electing a Republican and nobody wants to do that,” she said.

Rep. James Smith, who chose to attend an event in Horry County on Thursday night, was not in attendance. Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, spoke on his behalf.

Hutto said that Smith cares about public education, economic development and the environment.

He credits Smith’s eight years of service as a JAG officer and 12-month deployment in Operation Enduring Freedom as examples of the leadership that he brings to the S.C. House of Representatives and that he’ll bring to the governor’s office.

“If he can fight the Taliban, we know he can fight the Republicans,” Hutto said.