COLUMBIA — The 2018 Democratic primary for South Carolina governor is off to a combative start.
From the get-go of the first debate Friday evening at the Palmetto State Progressive Summit in Columbia, the candidates often swung from highlighting their own credentials to take aim at their opponents.
At first, the three contenders sought to establish the narratives of their early candidacies.
State Rep. James Smith, D-Columbia, highlighted his military background as teaching him values of service and a commitment to others. Charleston businessman Phil Noble described his platform as one of radical change to shake up the “plantation politics” in Columbia. Florence antitrust attorney Marguerite Willis labeled herself as a “practical problem-solver.”
Then the jabs began.
When Smith touted a 22-year service record of helping to boost women’s heath and employment rights, Willis asked why he couldn’t get an equal pay law passed in the Legislature in all that time.
Noble pointed out that Smith used to have an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association. Smith pushed back, noting he has supported several firearm restrictions and has focused particularly