Photo by Ruta Smith

S.C. GOP Gov. Henry McMaster today picked up the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Business and its 4,000 South Carolina members at a Charleston press conference.

But Democratic challenger Joe Cunningham’s campaign fired back that McMaster was bad for business.

“The facts are clear: Under Henry McMaster’s disastrous record as governor and a career politician, South Carolina has the highest income tax rate in the entire region,” Cunningham adviser Tyler Jones said. “Our state is dead last in roads and near dead last in education. 

“Now he’s pushing a barbaric abortion ban with no exceptions that would be devastating for South Carolina workers and businesses. This dangerous law will impact our ability to bring business to South Carolina, harm our tourism industry, jeopardize our college enrollments, and hurt South Carolinians’ ability to earn a living.”

But McMaster outlined how his administration has cut income taxes from 7% to 6% – and wants more. He said he views the state’s small businesses as the backbone of the Palmetto State’s economy. Other states shut down businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic, but he said South Carolina went in another direction to mostly allow businesses to remain open.

“When the pandemic hit, we kept businesses, just like this one [at Wulbern-Koval Co. on Morrison Drive], open because we knew following the so-called experts in Washington would cost us dearly,” McMaster said at a press conference that had three television cameras filming.  “Working together with small businesses across South Carolina, we have the wind at our back, and we can’t stop now – we have to continue to reduce the cost of doing business here, from cutting taxes to slashing red tape, and that’s exactly what we’ll do as long as I’m governor.”

NFIB State Director Ben Homeyer said McMaster long has had the support of its small business members across the state.

“Governor McMaster threaded the needle when it came to South Carolina’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said. “Governor McMaster’s leadership helped protect both lives and livelihoods, and he has kept South Carolina’s economy strong despite global challenges such as inflation and disruptions in the supply chain.”

But Cunningham is the better leader for the future, Jones argued.

“Joe Cunningham was ranked one of the most independent and effective members of Congress, and received the endorsement of the conservative United States Chamber of Commerce for his strong, pro-business record,” Jones said. “Joe is the only candidate for governor who supports eliminating the state income tax, legalizing marijuana and sports betting and creating tens of thousands of new jobs in the process, and the only candidate who trusts women to make their own health care decisions. 

He called McMaster a leader stuck in the past. “Joe Cunningham will be an independent, pro-business governor who will bring South Carolina’s economy out of the past and into the future.” 

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