- Associated Press - Sunday, May 18, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The Republican race for lieutenant governor in South Carolina features the son of a popular governor, a retired Kiawah Island developer, a former attorney general, and a retired Army chaplain.

All four want to boost the prominence of a job largely viewed as ceremonial, calling the No. 2 spot the state’s most underutilized office. Three tout their ties to GOP Gov. Nikki Haley and promise - if she’s re-elected - to form an executive office partnership four years before a constitutional change makes it official. Haley has refrained from any endorsement in the race.

Mike Campbell, Pat McKinney and Henry McMaster also similarly want to expand the job’s role into economic development, though Campbell says the governor doesn’t need his help when it comes to industry recruitment. He wants to advocate specifically for small businesses.

The candidates’ backgrounds provide perhaps the biggest distinction.

McMaster - a former U.S. attorney, state GOP chairman and two-term attorney general - says his political experience provides the knowledge necessary to get things done.

“Our state is at a critical point. The next four years are going to set our course for the future,” he said. “We need all hands on deck.”

This is McKinney’s first run for political office. The retired president of Kiawah Island Real Estate says he brings a new face to Columbia. He says he brings the perspective of a businessman who spent decades selling South Carolina to out-of-state homebuyers and now wants to use his salesman skills to serve the state.

Campbell, son of the late Gov. Carroll Campbell, says he’s neither a career politician nor a government novice, since he’s been around politics all of his life though he’s never held office. He ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor eight years ago, when he narrowly lost the primary runoff.

Retired Army chaplain Ray Moore sets himself apart with a platform that involves encouraging parents to take their children out of public school to either enroll them in a private, Christian school or homeschool them. He believes the public school system has become hostile to Christianity and therefore needs to be phased out. Other faiths and atheists could form their own private schools, he said.

“Public schools are really harming our children, turning them away from their faith,” Moore said. “I don’t think there’s any fixing it. You can’t fix socialism.”

He also wants to use the office’s bully pulpit to advocate for monetizing gold and silver coins as an alternative to the dollar.

By law, the lieutenant governor has two official duties: presiding over the state Senate and overseeing the state Office on Aging.

All four candidates praise the attention Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell has brought to seniors’ issues and want to continue his work. They cite his phrase that South Carolina must prepare for the oncoming “gray tsunami,” as its senior population is expected to double over the next 15 years.

Campbell and McMaster jumped into the race in March, after McConnell announced he wasn’t running. McKinney announced his bid last October, when he loaned his campaign $245,000.

Campbell is the only candidate who says the Office on Aging is the reason he’s running. His father died of a heart attack in 2005 after a four-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He says that experience and his involvement with the Alzheimer’s Association drove him to want to help not only patients, but also their caregivers.

While the lieutenant governor can be a champion for other issues, “the reality of what you have a say-so in and can make effective change in is that Office on Aging,” Campbell said.

McKinney talks about job creation in his TV ad. But he says supporting seniors is personal for him too. His father, a World War II veteran, died last month after struggling with dementia, and his wife’s parents still live independently in Charleston. Last week, he released an Office on Aging plan that focuses on fighting obesity and hunger.

McMaster wants to start a legal unit to investigate and prosecute people who abuse or defraud the elderly. Moore says he’ll use his four decades as a pastor to get churches more involved in taking care of the elderly.

The primary winner will face Democratic state Rep. Bakari Sellers in November.

This is the last year voters will choose a lieutenant governor. Under a constitutional change voters approved in 2012, gubernatorial candidates will begin choosing their running mates in 2018. Presiding over the Senate and overseeing the Office on Aging will no longer be the lieutenant governor’s role.



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