Cunningham picks ex-fighter pilot as SC gov running mate

COLOMBIA, SC (AP) — Joe Cunningham has chosen Tally Param Casey, a civil litigator who flew fighter jets during three war trips in Iraq, in his quest to become the first Democratic governor of South Carolina in 20 years. I was his running mate.

“He’s one of the most influential people I’ve ever met,” said Cunningham, who previewed his lieutenant governor’s pick for the Associated Press ahead of the formal announcement on Monday. “She’s fought for our freedoms overseas, and she wants to continue fighting for those freedoms, so I’ve given her the ticket, and she’s ready to do that.”

Cunningham, 40, plans to introduce Casey, 52, at an event in his hometown of Greenville.

This is the second gubernatorial election cycle in which the contenders for South Carolina’s top two executive offices run on the same ticket. In previous years, the governor and his lieutenant governor were elected separately, meaning that sometimes politicians clashed ideologically or were from different parties.

Last week, Governor Henry McMaster and Lieutenant Governor Pamela Avett, 54, became the first gubernatorial tickets to file for South Carolina reelection, with McMaster calling the payroll company’s founder “absolutely familiar with the trials, tribulations and challenges of business.” . The governor has said that his skills complement his decades in law and politics.

Since his election in 2018, Avett has spent several months traveling the state, meeting with businesses, and promoting his relationships with technical training schools in South Carolina. Both he and the governor say keeping them strong is the key to the state’s manufacturing economy.

Cunningham also points to the diverse experiences of his running mate. He said Casey’s military service, legal knowledge and the fact that she is a woman make her a good fit for the position she wants to take the state.

“Tally is the best person for the job, period,” Cunningham told the AP. “And the fact that she’s a woman brings that perspective to the ticket, especially in light of everything that’s happened to the government. The attacks on our freedoms and their attacks on women’s rights. This tally For makes it more personal.”

The Republican-dominated legislature is on track to make abortion in South Carolina even more difficult, as the US Supreme Court overturned its nearly 50-year-old Rowe v. Wade decision upholding the constitutional right to the procedure.

While abortion-rights groups challenge the state’s current law, which bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy but includes some exceptions, a special legislative committee last week proposed a ban on nearly all abortions. given, except when the life of the mother is at risk.

McMaster, who has said he will work with those lawmakers “immediately”, said last week that the six-week ban covers “good exceptions” and is “fairly reasonable”.

“If there are other steps, if there are other things that they think should be done after a thorough investigation, I’d like to hear about that,” McMaster said.

Cunningham has called on legislators to hold off on debating the measure this fall until after November’s election.

Casey was South Carolina’s first female fighter pilot, enlisted with the state’s Air National Guard’s 157th Fighter Squadron in 1996 and attained the rank of lieutenant colonel. He has about 1,500 hours in the F-16, over 100 of them in combat, and has received numerous service-related awards.

Casey has also been an attorney for more than two decades, most of them in Wyche PA, Columbia, where he was elected president in 2017 and focused on commercial litigation, product liability, insurance, and aerospace law. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Virginia School of Law, he has also been a federal law clerk.

Like Cunningham, Casey is much younger than McMaster, who at 75 is the state’s oldest governor, and whose age Democrats have said is too advanced to adequately represent the South Carolinians.

“He’s been my lifeblood in politics for a really long time, and you see where that’s got us,” Cunningham said. “What Tally offers is a much-needed change, and it will be a refreshing take on politics.”

Cunningham has proposed an age limit of 72 for South Carolina officeholders — a change that would require voters to approve the constitutional change. He has signaled openness to a similar federal age limit that would apply to House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, 82, of South Carolina, and President Joe Biden, 79, of South Carolina.


Meg Kinnard can be reached here

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