Lt. Gov. Candidates Debate Healthcare, Education, Poverty and Their Priorities on Women's Issues

Oct 30, 2018

In one week, South Carolina will elect a governor. Through that mid-term election decision, a new lieutenant governor will also be selected.

Monday, lieutenant candidates, Republican Pamela Evette and Democrat Mandy Powers-Norrell, met for their only televised debate. They shared what they both would bring to the state's 'executive office table' and reinforced their running mate's positions on topics like healthcare, taxes, education and gun control.

Six years ago, in a ballot referendum, voters approved joining the governor and lieutenant governor race on the same ticket. That 2012 decision, paved the way for gubernatorial candidates to pick lieutenant governor running mates, creating a model similar to that of a president and vice-president.

Currently, the lieutenant governor serves as President of the Senate and oversees the Office on Aging. But with this new, joint-ticket dynamic, the office (which is generally considered a part-time position) could encompass more duties. During the final governor’s debate on October 25, both Republican incumbent Governor Henry McMaster and Democratic challenger, state Representative James, Smith, shared what capacity they would like their lieutenant governor picks to serve, if elected into office.

Votes and History- A glance at election results for lieutenant governor race in 1978
Credit SC Election Commission

The last time a woman in South Carolina held the office of lieutenant governor was in 1979. Democrat Nancy Stevenson defeated Republican John Stroud in the 1978 general election. Stevenson served as the 83rd lieutenant governor from 1979 to 1983, under Governor Richard Riley. Four decades later, Pamela Evette or Mandy Powers Norrell, will become the second woman to serve in the office.

RELATED: For more on Nancy Stevenson, click here.

RELATED: See entire SC Election Commission Report for period ending June 30, 1979.

During the debate, host Charles Bierbauer reminded candidates that, during her term, Stevenson worked (unsuccessfully) to gain South Carolina ratification of the equal rights amendment and also to support victims of domestic violence, still a significant issue for the state. He then asked the candidates what would be their priorities in dealing with issues of most concern to women?

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RELATED: The Significance of This Election

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Both candidates agreed that combatting domestic violence was very important to them, but Powers-Norrell, used the question as an opportunity to attack McMaster on his absence during this year's Silent Witness Ceremony and also call the governor out on vetoing funding to child advocacy groups that "take children in who have been victims of child sexual abuse," she said.

Evette answered the question by giving a brief summary of McMaster's accomplishements during his time as Attorney General. He "realized that women were not having their cases heard. He made sure he cleared the dockets. He deputized attorneys to come in and have their cases heard," she said.

2018 Silent Witness Ceremony
Credit Thelisha Eaddy/ SC Public Radio

Candidates Call Domestic Violence a Priority Issue

Domestic Violence Awareness is observed in October. Earlier in the month, the Attorney General hosted the annual Silent Witness Ceremony on the grounds of the statehosue. The event  remembers people killed during domestic violence disputes, from the previous year.  This year's event remembered 29 women and 11 men. During Monday's lieutenant governor debate, both candidates said combatting domestic violence was a priority for them.

HERE'S WHAT THEY SAID:

During Monday’s hour-long debate, Evette and Powers-Norrell fielded questions on topics including taxes, healthcare; poverty; K-12 and higher education; gun laws and hate speech. If you missed the debate, you can watch the entire program, below. Election day is Tuesday, November 6.