James Smith decides to make his stand, run for governor

James 3

Smith in 2015 speaking at a rally calling for removing the Confederate flag from the State House grounds.

Well, this is good news. And here’s the notice he sent out to potential supporters (I didn’t get one, but it was forwarded to me):

All of my life I have felt the call to service. I have been grateful for the privilege to serve my community, my state, and my nation. In that spirit, after 9/11, I resigned my commission as a JAG officer, enlisted in the Infantry, and deployed to Afghanistan to fight for our country and protect our way of life. There, I was privileged to serve with the very best our State and Nation has to offer, alongside real heroes- soldiers who best represent what America stands for.

I came home a different man. With a deeper faith. More thankful for my wife and family. Less caught up in the petty politics at the State Capitol. And believing I could do even more. That I was called to do more.

And that’s why now – after a lot of thought, consultation, discussions with my family, and prayer – I’ve decided to run for Governor.

And here’s why.

I see the potential of our state. I see what we can be. But I also see what’s getting in the way.

I am running for Governor because I feel like I must do all that I can to fight for the people of South Carolina. I am running because I want South Carolina to realize her fullest potential and to do that means no one gets left behind.

I see South Carolina as she can be and ask why not? Why not more than a minimally adequate education? Why not an energy plan that works for all of us and a South Carolina prepared for the jobs of the future? Why not a South Carolina where we invest in our quality of life, support for our families, rebuild our infrastructure, reform our government to be efficient, transparent and accountable, and provide access to quality healthcare?

A South Carolina where those in power serve the people and not themselves.

If you, like me, believe in a South Carolina that works for all of us, I ask you to stand with me. If you, like me, want a better future for the next generation and know that it will take each of us working together, I ask you to join me.

I know there is a long road ahead. We will be up against powerful interests that don’t want change.

Whether in the State House or the highland deserts of Afghanistan, I have fought for you and for the values that we each hold dear and I want to fight for you as your Governor.

South Carolina’s best days can be ahead of us.

Stand with me.


Here’s hoping he doesn’t have Democratic opposition. It would be nice if we had one person running for governor who could start listening to those of us in the middle right away, instead of spending a primary season reaching out to the extremes of a party — the way the Republicans are having to do…

Capt. Smith writing home from Afghanistan in 2007.

Capt. Smith writing home from Afghanistan in 2007.

19 thoughts on “James Smith decides to make his stand, run for governor

  1. Harry Harris

    Your comments are interesting, but can you think of a Democratic nominee for Governor in recent memory who was even a little extreme? I can’t think of one who didn’t listen to and communicate with moderates, even some rather conservative Republicans.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      No, because we tend to have moderate Democrats win statewide nomination, mostly.

      But the way the Republicans are racing to appeal to the nuttier parts of their base — McMaster vetoing the roads bill, and having Trump come here to campaign for him, for instance — I want there to be at least one candidate running for governor who starts out in the middle, and stays there. Because that’s my kind of candidate.

  2. Doug Ross

    Another politician who will fight for us. Hooray! Can’t wait to see him battle with the old guard to change South Carolina! I’ll believe this empty rhetoric when he starts naming the people he plans to”fight”.

    Sheheen 3.0

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, because THAT’S the way to win elections — start making enemies, by name, from the start.

      Just because it works for Trump doesn’t mean it would work for anyone else.

      Anyway, that’s not James.

      And yes, I agree that his using the “fight” rhetoric is unfortunate, if that’s what you’re saying. I don’t like it when anybody does that.

      And James should know better, since he’s been to war, and shouldn’t trivialize “fighting”…

      1. Doug Ross

        His message was pure textbook boilerplate candidate jargon. Even got his prayers in there.

        My first question for these guys is “if you haven’t been able to do anything about the issues as a legislator why should we believe you will be any more effective as Governor?”. Where is the evidence that he can influence Republicans on any major issue?

        1. Barry

          Like McMaster? Where is the evidence that Trump, McMaster, Templeton, or Doug Ross can be effective at influencing Republicans in the SC General Assembly?

          James is at least highly respected, and I’d argue more highly respected by Republicans, even if behind the scenes, in Columbia than is Trump, and the rest of the bunch.

          1. Doug Ross

            There isn’t any evidence. That’s why he will lose. As long as there is a D next to his name, he has little chance. Now perhaps if he started going after Leatherman and the rest of that crew, he might have a shot. But to run on generic cliches means another 8 point loss to widener the Republicans put up.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              “Now perhaps if he started going after Leatherman and the rest of that crew, he might have a shot.”

              With Doug. Then, he’d have a shot with Doug.

              And his chances with Doug would improve if he had never served in public office before. But it’s a bit late for that.

              You’ve got mind your ps and qs to have a shot at that crucial Doug vote… 🙂

              1. Doug Ross

                Was I right about Sheheen both times? Simple question – is Smith 8 points better than Sheheen? If so, why?

                The best shot for Smith is Pascoe dropping the hammer on a bunch of high level Republicans. Other than that, he will run and lose.

          2. Claus2

            “James is at least highly respected, and I’d argue more highly respected by Republicans, even if behind the scenes, in Columbia than is Trump, and the rest of the bunch.”

            Maybe among the liberals in Richland County. I doubt you’d find many more around the state who viewed him more than a career politician.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Claus, on this you don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t think I’ve run across anyone who doesn’t respect James. Trump is someone you can’t say that about. So yeah, it’s inevitable that quite a few Republicans who know him probably respect James more than they do Trump…

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                … unfortunately, elections aren’t decided by people who know the candidates. They’re decided by largely unconnected voters, who far too often vote solely on the basis of something as weak as name recognition, or worse, party affiliation.

                If all the voters knew James the way other lawmakers — regardless of party — do, he’d win fairly easily over anyone else currently running…

                1. Richard

                  You’ve been a James Smith cheerleader ever since I’ve been reading this blog, so your opinion is about what I expected.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Yep, and you know why? Because he’s one of the best people in public life in South Carolina.

                    Of course, I haven’t always supported him. When he first ran for office, we liked him, but we opted to endorse his Republican opponent (who was also his cousin), Robert Adams.

                    They were both good guys. But in that contest, we liked the Republican slightly more….

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Actually, in James Smith’s part of the county, people tend to form relationships across party lines. So it is that it wouldn’t be surprising to see Republicans voting for James, just as over the years Democrats have voted for John Courson…

            2. Barry

              I don’t know anyone that considers James Smith a liberal. If they do, they aresimply ignorant.

              His problem will be that most outside Columbia don’t know who he is and won’t even care to learn about him.

              They’ll ignore his volunteering to serve in Afghanistan, and serving on the ground as an infantry officer. They’ll ignore his common sense, no frills, no inflammatory rhetoric approach.

              Those that vote for an ideologue over him will say they want someone that can “work with the other side.”

              Then they’ll ignore someone that can do just that and pick someone that has no interest in doing so at all.

              1. Doug Ross

                People think that because they know a politician, that everyone in the state knows that person. Statewide, I would bet his name recognition is in the single digits. He doesn’t even have his Daddy’s name to run on like Sheheen did.

                The best hope for Democrats is a black candidate. Why is the bench so weak in that area in this state?

                1. Barry

                  I said his name recognition is a problem.

                  He hasn’t spent years making inflammatory statements or taking ridiculous positions so that those that do vote will vote for him.

                  Now, if he wants to start getting into 2nd grade name calling contests with other elected leaders, make stupid untrue statements on twitter, change political parties, and run through several wives and several mistresses in the next year, maybe Trump supporters will consider him as a real bonafide “real man” and “real Christian” , and cast their vote for him.

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