JOE ON THE ROAD
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June 15, 2021 | Spartanburg, SC
Stop number 10 and it was a 10!!!!
Before hitting the road, I introduced my three-part plan to curb gun violence in South Carolina. Standing in the shadow of Mother Emanuel AME, just days before the 6th anniversary of the massacre there, was a powerful start to my day. The words of Rev. Middleton, who joined me there, echoed in my mind along the highway headed to Spartanburg County. He misses his friends--and I want to close the Charleston Loophole that contributed to their senseless deaths.
Traffic along I-26 was bumper-to-bumper. I want to fix that--widening I-26 from North Charleston to North Carolina. Former SC State Representative Harold Mitchell of ReGenesis Community Development Corporation gave us a tour of the area highlighting the environmental issues that have fueled redevelopment. We then met with Angela Geter and area Democratic party volunteers, sharing my story and how I can win in SC. A great meeting with Representative Rosalyn Henderson-Myers was next. Thanks for the fantastic introduction that evening and for attending my event, Representative Henderson-Myers! A phenomenal crowd joined us that night to hear about how I am the Governor of the Future, while McMaster is the governor of the past. I met so many people! Your energy energized me! Thank you!
What’s better after a late night than Krispy Kreme? Thanks so much to legendary Senator Glenn Reese for welcoming me to your facility. Your support means the world to me! Being where President Biden, former President Obama, and former President Clinton have all spent time was an amazing moment--and the hot glazed doughnuts were tasty, too.
Can’t wait until next time! Thanks, Spartanburg!
June 10, 2021 | Kingstree, SC
Greetings from Williamsburg County! I was so pleased to spend time at the Williamsburg County Parks and Recreation Department meeting with local leaders and city officials. Thank you all for being there! I was so glad to be able to share my vision for South Carolina with you and appreciate the support. The warm welcome--especially the opening prayer--is something my staff and I are still talking about as we make our way through South Carolina. The best part of this trip? Hearing directly from the people that live there about what matters the most to them. My vision for South Carolina addresses the concerns about the lack of healthcare for the poorest residents of South Carolina. I know that the lack of Internet access makes telehealth appointments and school assignments nearly impossible--and know that kind of access has to be part of South Carolina’s infrastructure going forward. I know Williamsburg County feels like a ”forgotten county” in so many ways but, my visit there is one I will remember for a long time--especially my visit to Brown’s BBQ. Looking forward to more visits, more conversations, and more bbq! Thanks, Williamsburg County!
June 9, 2021 | Florence, SC
Thank you to Pastor Calvin Robinson of Trinity Baptist Church for bringing together Florence pastors to hear why I want to be the next governor of SC. This intimate gathering gave us the chance to learn how together we can make a difference in SC. I shared my plan to make education in SC a priority of my administration. I heard the frustration over the state of healthcare in SC--and I shared how I will expand Medicaid my first day in office--giving lifesaving healthcare to SC’s most vulnerable. I keep thinking about the question of why it was easier to carry a gun than to vote in SC. It should not be that way. When I am governor, I want to make sure every voice is heard and make the ability to vote a right for every eligible citizen. I want to make Election Day a State Holiday and eliminate the antiquated and embarrassing observance of Confederate Memorial Day.
Next stop….the home of Suzanne La Rochelle, who hosted a community meet and greet. While the grapes and gardenias were something else, meeting longtime activists and community leaders was a true honor. So much hard work has been accomplished by these Florence notables--and I am excited that I had the chance to share my vision of a modern SC with them. Suzanne even brought gardenias to Seminar Brewing that night for my staff! Thank you so much, Suzanne!
And the final stop for the day….Seminar Brewing. Thunderstorms were brewing as Travis Johnson welcomed me to the podium. I know Travis, a Harvard sophomore, has great things ahead for him. Travis Knowles and his team at Seminar made it a night to remember. After sharing my strategy for SC with a huge crowd in the Beer Garden, I also got to throw axes inside. The whole trip to Florence was a “bullseye” and I cannot wait to visit again.
June 1, 2021 | Lexington & West Columbia, SC
Hello, Lexington County! What a busy and rewarding day we had in West Columbia. I started the day at Brookland Baptist Church, meeting with local pastors and community leaders. There were tough questions asked...and I was pleased to share how I am the best candidate for governor of South Carolina to create real change in the communities that need it the most. I heard your concerns about a governor that is interested in the needs of the citizens--and I will put those needs ahead of party and politics. I also got a chance to be a part of the Alzheimer’s Association Roundtable and meet with the team of Lexington Medical who have partnered to provide Covid vaccines right there at Brookland Baptist.
My day was just getting going! Next was a trip to the State Farmers Market where I met with farmers and vendors about keeping agriculture a priority in SC. Generation after generation have kept this farming tradition alive and I want to make sure future farmers in South Carolina can keep working the land. I toured Vertical Roots and am wowed by all that is going on there-- from using 98% less water than traditional farms to how quickly SC grown products make their way all over the country. The last stop of the day was at WeCo Bottle and Biergarten where a huge crowd came out for boiled peanuts, beers...and to hear about why I want to be the next governor of South Carolina.
Thanks, Lexington County! Until next time!
May 25, 2021 | Moncks Corner, Daniel Island and Ladson, SC
It's always fun to spend time in Berkeley County. I had the privilege of representing most of Berkeley while in Congress so it was good to reconnect with so many friends and supporters. We started off the morning touring Community’s Hope Impact Center in Moncks Corner. Thanks to Pastor Tory Liferidge and Director Shelah Durant for having me and showing off the great work you’re doing! We then hit the other side of the county for a Meet and Greet at Wasabi on Daniel Island. It might be the hottest day of the year but we still had a great crowd join us to talk about issues facing our state. We finished off the day with a huge event up in Ladson at MOMO Kitchen and Market. Thanks to Jeni Atchley, the president of the Young Democrats of South Carolina for introducing me - even though you coaxed the crowd into singing me Happy Birthday! I'm so grateful to everyone who came out to show their support for our campaign. We will be spending lots of time in Berkeley County and I hope to represent you all once again!
May 18-19, 2021 | Beaufort & Bluffton, SC
Wow! What an incredible two days in Beaufort County! This county always shows up and shows out and this trip was no different. We started the trip off by touring Hopeful Horizons Emergency Shelter in Beaufort. They provided shelter for 200+ victims of domestic violence and sexual assault last year while also dealing with budget cuts. They’re doing amazing work and it's time our state gives them the support they need and deserve. Then we dropped by my friend Ken Singleton's barbershop in downtown Beaufort to chat about the news of the day. Afterward, we joined Rev. James Moore from Mt. Carmel Baptist Church on his radio show. We talked about the need to expand Medicaid, give teachers a raise, pass policing reform, and stop the unAmerican efforts to make it harder for African Americans to vote. As we exited the historic Tabernacle Baptist Church, I paid my respects to Robert Smalls, one of the most transformational figures in our state's history, who is buried on the grounds. After grabbing a quick bite to eat, we were blown away by the huge and unexpected crowd that gathered for what was supposed to be a "small intimate gathering" that turned into over 100 people at the Kresch residence. It was fun seeing so many old friends and meeting new people who are fired up about our campaign. Over 75 people came to our next event, a meet and greet with 50 Shades of Blue and the Fripp Islander group on St. Helena Island. Finally, we had 200+ come out to our evening event at Fat Patties in Bluffton. After speaking to the crowd, I was asked to help tend the bar and got to talk to folks from a slightly different perspective! The next day we had a fantastic brunch with 40 people on Dataw Island before sitting down with La Isla Magazine for a quick interview (mostly) in Spanish. We're fired up and exhausted all at the same time but we could not be more grateful for an amazing two days in Beaufort County. Thank you all and see you again very soon!
May 4, 2021 | Columbia, SC
What a day! There's a good reason they call Columbia "Famously Hot" as temperatures reached 90 degrees today while we visited the Capital City. First we had lunch with a few local Democratic Party leaders before heading over the SCDP Headquarters to speak to reporters about my opposition to the "Open Carry" bill currently being debated at the state house. Afterwards, we toured the campus of Allen University and the old Good Samaritan-Waverly Place Hospital, which served black residents of Columbia for 35 years during the age of Jim Crow. It closed down in the 1970's but Allen is now restoring the hospital into their new Institute on Civility. From there we toured Owen Steel, a local business who produces steel for some of the biggest structures in the country. Stadiums, Buildings, bridges - you name it, they build it. As we were touring Owen Steel, the skies opened up and thunderstorms came through Columbia right around the time our event across the street at River Rat Brewery was supposed to begin. Despite the washout conditions, over 100 folks showed up and braved the weather to hear our plans for progress in South Carolina. I was especially excited to see so many students, from USC, Benedict, Allen, Columbia College - we even had students drive down from Clemson for our event. That meant a lot. We drove back to Charleston and got home a little before 11pm. We'll be back on the road over the next few weeks and will be announcing it very soon! For now, I'm hitting the hay!
May 3, 2021 | Greenville, SC
Just left our first event in Greenville. Technically this was our first public event outside of the First Congressional District and we weren't quite sure how many folks would show up - or if anyone would show up! But boy, did they show up! Over 200 people came out on a rainy Monday night in one of the most conservative areas of our state to say hello and hear our vision for South Carolina. I was honored to be introduced by my sister-in-law, Fabioloa, who came down from Asheville with my oldest brother John Ryan. I let folks know how committed I was to investing in the upstate and not writing it off like too many Democrats have done in the past. I talked about the importance of investing in our technical schools and making public college free for students who put in the work and maintain a B average. And of course I explained how none of this was possible unless we win next November and how important it is to nominate someone who has a proven track record of winning in tough areas. As someone who flipped a Republican seat that voted for Donald Trump by 13 points, I know what it takes to win. Few places in our state deserve a big Democratic win more than the Upstate and I'm committed to giving them one. Thanks for an amazing day, Greenville! I'll be back very soon!
June 16, 2021 | Greenville, SC
An amazing detour last week when I was visiting Spartanburg County... Premier Medical Laboratory Services in Greenville, SC. I was happy to return to Greenville County so quickly after we were there just a few weeks ago.
Leading the way in Covid testing not only for South Carolina but for the entire US, Premier Medical Laboratory Services is also making huge strides in medical breakthroughs that will positively impact lives all over the globe. From heart disease to diabetes, lab-in-a-box kits to genetic testing, Kevin Murdock and his team are partnering with big hitters like Harvard and MIT. When I’m governor, I hope we can create those same partnerships within SC. Thanks for the tour, Michael Conroy. Premier Medical Laboratory Services has been in SC since 2007 and I look forward to working together for many years to come.
May 3, 2021 | Laurens, SC
Our very first stop on our 46-county tour (outside of Charleston) was in Laurens County. For years, I had heard about the old Redneck Shop in Laurens, and how it used to be the meeting place for the KKK and the American Nazi Party until 2012. And recently I heard that a local pastor had purchased the building and planned to turn it into a diversity center. I knew this was where I wanted to start our tour. So we met Rev. David Kennedy, the owner of the building, and Regan Freeman, the Executive Director of the Echo Project, the non-profit leading the revitalization efforts. They explained to me the history of the Redneck Shop, showed us pictures of Nazi rallies inside the old movie theater, and explained to me why it meant so much to them to turn it into a diversity center. We toured the facility, mostly in the dark, and I listened to the difficult stories about what happened where I was standing. It was devastating to know that all that hate and racism could still exist - and right in our own back yard. I was inspired by Rev. Kennedy and Regan's passion and determination to turn this into a place we could all be proud of. That's what South Carolina is all about. And I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to start our 46 county tour right there.
April 28, 2021 | North Charleston, SC
Wow! What an incredible way to kick off our campaign for governor right here in our backyard of Charleston. It was great to see all of you who came to our event (all 700+ of you) to hear about our plan to take back the governor's mansion. We were honored to have SCDP Chair Trav Robertson come down and speak, as well as Charleston County Councilman Rev. Kylon Middleton and State Representative Spencer Wetmore. But the highlight for me was being introduced by Sangaree Middle School 7th Grader Ivy Ward. She gives me great hope for our future.
As I walked out on the stage to see so many (masked) friends, I was quickly reminded why I'm in the race. Because folks are desperate for change in South Carolina and they're ready to fight for it. And I'm excited to help carry that energy with me all across the state as we visit every single one of our 46 counties over the next few months.
In my speech, I laid out my vision for South Carolina and what my priorities would be as governor: Expanding Medicaid, raising teacher pay, fixing our roads, expanding voting rights, making sure state government is as diverse and inclusive as our people, and passing common sense policing reform.
I also discussed the importance of nominating a candidate who can beat Henry McMaster. When I ran for Congress in 2018, no one gave me a chance. Mark Sanford had just won the district by 22 points and Donald Trump had carried it by 13. But despite this seat being gerrymandering to make it impossible for a Democrat to win - we flipped it anyway. Even in our narrow loss in 2020, we outperformed Joe Biden by 5 points, coming up short by only a single point.
That's the kind of crossover support we're going to need to win statewide. And I know we can do it.
I was also so humbled by all the folks who stayed afterwards to chat and to get a picture. You all give me so much hope and motivation to push even harder than I already am.
Thank you, Charleston, for a fantastic homecoming and an amazing kickoff to our campaign.
We're hitting the road next week with events in Greenville on Monday and Columbia on Tuesday. Please RSVP and I'll see you on the trail!
Onward to victory,