Longtime Democratic activist joins 2018 race for governor

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A longtime Democratic activist and consultant is entering the race for South Carolina governor, guaranteeing a primary for Democrats next June.

Phil Noble of Charleston told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he’s running to change the system.

South Carolina “is an amazing state with terrific potential but a broken, dysfunctionally corrupt state government is keeping us from having all the things we ought to have in this state,” he said.

Noble plans a formal announcement Wednesday. He joins state Rep. James Smith of Columbia, who announced online last week.

Noble is president of South Carolina New Democrats, a group founded by former Gov. Richard Riley, who began his two-term tenure in 1979.

That same year, Noble started his political and public affairs firm, Phil Noble and Associates. In 1996, he founded PoliticsOnline, and he’s pushed for education reforms with nonprofits including One Laptop per Child of South Carolina.

Noble ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1994 in a four-way Democratic primary. He lost a bid in 2011 for state Democratic Party chairman to Columbia attorney Dick Harpootlian.

Noble has not yet filed with the state Election Commission, meaning his fundraising has yet to ramp up. An initial report is due within 10 days of a candidate spending or receiving at least $500.

Smith had $455 available, after launching his campaign with $1,000 of his own money.

That puts Democrats far behind in the money race in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat governor since 1998.

Four Republicans are seeking their party’s nomination.

Gov. Henry McMaster, who is seeking his first full term, had $1.5 million available as of his latest campaign filing in July. His closest challenger, Catherine Templeton, had $1.3 million cash on hand. Templeton, the former director of two state agencies under former Gov. Nikki Haley, is making her first run for elected office.

Late Tuesday, McMaster reported raising more than $568,000, with Templeton bringing in more than $600,000.

Other announced Republicans competing in June’s primary are Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, who had $291,000 available as of last week — most of it from his own pocket — and former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill, a longtime Democratic senator, who had less than $2,400.


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