• Charleston City Paper

Our View: Pick Cunningham to be South Carolina’s next governor

What we like about former Congressman Joe Cunningham’s race to unseat a longtime Republican incumbent is how the Charleston resident focuses on South Carolina issues, not the mess that goes on in Washington.

While the incumbent fills the airwaves with garbage about Washington, it’s important to remember that South Carolina leaders, not those in Washington, are the ones who steer our state’s economy and educate our children. South Carolina leaders heal our sick and do the hard work of protecting our special places. And South Carolina officials should be the ones who do more to lift the poor out of poverty and provide affordable housing to those who need better places to live. Blaming Washington for everything is cheap theater that distracts voters from what’s what.

Cunningham, a lawyer who lost a congressional seat in 2020, has proven he can work in a bipartisan manner as several Republicans – including the current governor – noted in his efforts to keep offshore drilling from our coast.

And Cunningham has several real South Carolina-centric plans to make the Palmetto State a better place. Cunningham wants to eliminate the state income tax – something that only half of residents pay anyway – to make the state more competitive. He proposes boosting starting teacher pay from $36,000 a year now to $50,000 a year by 2030. Cunningham proposes term limits and age limits for South Carolina politicians and judges. He rightfully believes the government should stay out of a person’s medical decisions on everything from abortions to vaccine mandates. And he wants to legalize marijuana and sports betting here as part of a “freedom agenda.”

You might not agree with all of those things, particularly with the War on Drugs still on the minds of many people. But across the nation, attitudes have changed about marijuana as 19 states have legalized weed in some form or another. (South Carolina still needs to approve use of medical marijuana to alleviate suffering among patients in hellish pain.)

But even if you disagree with a guy on one or a few policy points, take a look at the future vision of Cunningham and the incumbent – bold, new, fresh ideas from one or more of the same from the other – more of the same pandering to evangelicals and fear, more of dividing people rather than working to bring them together.

As Cunningham says in countless stops across the state, “People over politics is more than just a slogan. It’s the guiding principle for our campaign and how I will govern. The truth is that both sides have become too extreme and there’s not enough common sense in government these days. If we want South Carolina to be more free and prosperous, we need to stop seeing each other as enemies and start seeing one another as people again.”

Hear, hear. Elect Joe Cunningham to be our governor on Nov. 8. He’ll be a breath of fresh air.