• The Coastal Observer

Democrat highlights an idea gap in governor's race

There are several freedoms on Joe Cunningham's platform in his campaign to unseat Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, but the one that earned the loudest applause at a stop in Pawleys Island last week was abortion rights. The former congressman from Charleston is trying to become the first Democrat to win statewide office since 2006.

“It all comes down to freedom. I’ll leave it to women to make these decisions. Henry McMaster thinks that decision should be made by politicians. That’s a distinct difference,” Cunningham said before the event at the True Blue clubhouse. “It will be a very serious issue, and I don’t think most people view it through a partisan lens.”

But Democrats believe that the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the guarantee of abortion rights established by Roe v. Wade in 1973 will bring the independent and crossover votes they need for an upset.

“Our campaign is a campaign of freedom,” Cunningham told an audience of about 75 people. “I’m talking about the basic, fundamental freedoms, like giving women the right to control their very lives.”

A state law passed in 2021 that would ban abortions after about six weeks is review by the state Supreme Court.

Even without the abortion issue, Cunningham, 40, frames the race as a campaign of ideas with his 75-year-old opponent.

“Gov. McMaster’s been leading South Carolina into the 1950s since the 1980s,” Cunningham told voters.

Cunningham wants the state to eliminate its individual income tax, which the legislature cut from 7 to 6 percent this year.