One Republican candidate running for S.C. lieutenant governor sees the office’s chief responsibility – looking after senior citizens – as his top priority.
But others made it clear during a debate Thursday that lowering taxes, reducing regulations, fighting federal overreach or moving away from a publicly funded school system were on their agendas.
“Everybody that’s ever run for lieutenant governor has ... proposed a million wonderful things that they’re going to do if they’re elected,” said Mike Campbell, son of late Republican Gov. Carroll Campbell, during the debate on ETV. “Unfortunately, the office is just not structured that way.”
The candidates generally said they support voucher programs to help family members hire help so they can get a break while caring for the elderly. They also said they support finding ways to keep seniors in their homes longer, and to engage nonprofits and faith-based organizations in the care for the elderly.
But Campbell of Columbia said he would focus on the Office on Aging – not other issues – by improving its website, and finding better ways to tell seniors about services available to them, including creating a digital app.
Former S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster of Columbia touted his experience as a prosecutor and in state government, adding he would fight federal overreach and work with lawmakers to advocate for sound public policy.
“But we've got to make the seniors safe in their homes for as long as possible,” McMaster added.
Charleston real estate developer Pat McKinney touted his business credentials, saying he would fight to lower taxes and reduce regulations.
McKinney also promoted his plan to provide nutrition and wellness programs for seniors, support for senior veterans and encourage nonprofits to provide more services to seniors. That plan, he said, set him apart from other candidates.
Columbia pastor Ray Moore said the race for state’s second-highest office, but one of its least powerful, was “symbolic.”
Moore said he is running to represent “traditional values.”
Fighting Common Core education standards, promoting private, Christian and homeschool choices for parents, and moving the state toward the gold standard in its currency would be his top priorities, he said.
For seniors, Moore said he could encourage more support for seniors through churches.
The four Republican candidates came together as part of a series of debates before the June 10 primaries. The debates are a collaboration between ETV and seven S.C. newspapers, including The State.
The winner of the June 10 GOP primary for lieutenant governor will face Democratic state Rep. Bakari Sellers of Bamberg in November.
The winner of that contest will run the Office on Aging, overseeing a $38 million annual budget and 41 employees. He also will preside over the state Senate.
The GOP candidates were asked to reconcile their campaign promises with what they could accomplish in a position widely viewed as having very little power and an expiration date of 2018, when the governor and lieutenant will start running on the same ticket.
Asked how he would accomplish his promise to “stop Washington at our doorstep,” McMaster said he would preside over the Senate and oversee 900,000 seniors.
“But (state law) doesn’t put any limit on what the lieutenant governor could do. I would use the position as one of strong advocacy for small business, for the Office on Aging, and protecting the seniors, and keeping them in their homes, safe and secure. There’s no limit ... if (the lieutenant governor) has the experience and knows how to get it done.”
Asked about his ad that promises he will “say no” when “career politicians try to grow government,” McKinney said he views the office as a chance “to partner with and support Gov. Haley.” He also said the office can advocate for “our small-business community.”
The candidates also were asked what they would push for if, by some chance, Haley were to vacate her office and one of them became governor.
McMaster and McKinney, both Haley allies, aligned themselves closely with the first-term GOP governor, who is seeking re-election, heaping praise on her performance.
“My priorities are very simply the same priorities as Gov. Haley,” said McKinney, who said he would advocate for small businesses, seniors and push for more government reforms.
McMaster said, “I campaigned for Gov. Haley. We got to the point where I could give her speech and she could give mine, almost.”
Campbell, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2006, said he would make jobs and the economy his top priorities if he assumed the governor’s office. He said growing up under Gov. Campbell makes him “uniquely” qualified to take the state’s top post.
Reach Self at (803) 771-8658.