• The Post and Courier

In SC governor’s race Cunningham and McMaster trade dubious claims on law enforcement

Gov. Henry McMaster greets U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham before a press conference at Bowens Island Restaurant on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019.

Joe Cunningham says escalating violence in South Carolina is Gov. Henry McMaster’s fault. The Democrat’s solution is to elect judges by popular vote as most other states do.

Meanwhile, the Republican incumbent accuses Cunningham of being anti-police as he tries to link his challenger to Democrat-led efforts elsewhere to defund law enforcement.

Both campaigns say their opponents’ accusations are absurd, as they stress their candidates’ crime-fighting stances.

South Carolina’s murder rate is the highest it has been in three decades. The overall rate for all violent crimes has dropped by 45 percent in that span, though there has been an uptick since 2014, according to the latest report from the State Law Enforcement Division, which includes data through 2020.

On the campaign trail, Cunningham blames McMaster for a “revolving door” of criminals.

“We have the highest crime rate we’ve ever had,” he said Aug. 20 in Orangeburg. “Gov. McMaster owns this crime issue. He’s appointed the judges who are letting violent offenders back on the streets.”

Days later in Florence, he said, “Violent criminals are getting back on the streets, being let out by politically appointed judges that (McMaster’s) appointed.”