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The College of Charleston will host two debates between Democratic and Republican gubernatorial hopefuls ahead of the June 12 primaries on May 15 and 16.

State Rep. James Smith of Richland County, Charleston businessman Phil Noble, and Florence attorney Marguerite Willis will face off in the Democratic debate on May 15 at 7 p.m in the Stern Student Center Ballroom on campus. 

Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, Mt. Pleasant lawyer and former two-time state agency head Catherine Templeton, Greenville businessman John Warren, and former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill will face off in the Republican debate the next day.

Gov. McMaster declined to participate, according to the college.

The debates will be held in partnership with WCIV News 4, which will also broadcast the debates live. News 4 anchor Dean Stephens will moderate both nights. [image-3] “The College of Charleston’s Bully Pulpit Series is very excited to help bring a debate to the Lowcountry,” said CofC political science professor Gibbs Knotts in a statement. “There are so many critical issues at stake in the 2018 governor’s race, and we look forward to providing a forum to help voters learn more about the candidates.”

The debates are free and open to the public, though limited seating means guests will have to register for tickets here and show them at the door. Guests are expected to be seated at 6:45 p.m., and tickets for both nights are different.

According to a poll conducted in March by the Save the Children Action Network, 41 percent of 397 likely Republican voters favored McMaster as their top candidate, followed by Templeton at 10 percent. In the same poll, more than a third of state GOP voters were still undecided and 18 percent of 296 likely Democratic voters favored Rep. Smith.


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