JOE ON THE ROAD
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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 | Gather GVL
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!
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,