Noble Tinubu

Democratic candidate Phil Noble announces his running mate, Gloria Bromell Tinubu, in the South Carolina governor's race Thursday at the Statehouse. Joey Cranney/Staff

COLUMBIA — Phil Noble, a Democratic candidate for South Carolina governor, named Gloria Bromell Tinubu as his running mate pick for lieutenant governor Thursday, touting the decision as an opportunity to take the Palmetto State in a radically different direction.

The pick allows Noble, a white businessman from Charleston, to diversify his ticket with an African-American woman.

"We're here to make history for a new South Carolina, a new way of dealing with things, a new sense of honesty and openness, a new sense of caring for those who haven't been cared for," Noble said.

Tinubu, 65, is not new to electoral politics. Born in Plantersville, the Georgetown resident represented Atlanta in the Georgia General Assembly before moving back to her native South Carolina.

She ran for Congress twice against U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, R-Myrtle Beach, winning the Democratic nomination both times but falling short in the general election.

From those congressional bids, Noble said he was impressed with Tinubu's "spirit, her determination, her independence, her competence, and most of all, her passion."

In 2017, Tinubu bested 17 other candidates to become Georgetown's director of economic development. The first African-American to receive a doctorate in applied economics from Clemson University, Tinubu has also taught business administration at Coastal Carolina University and economics at Spelman College.

Tinubu said she was honored that Noble chose her to join the ticket.

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"Phil has demonstrated throughout his life a commitment to standing up for our Democratic values and fighting for big change, real reform right now," Tinubu said. 

Candidates are not required to choose a running mate until closer to the general election.

By making a decision early, the primary contenders can send a signal to voters about the kind of allies they would surround themselves with in the governor's office. The move also creates a surrogate to help sell the candidate's message across the state.

One of Noble's two Democratic primary opponents has already announced her running mate, and the other is poised to name his soon.

Florence antitrust attorney Marguerite Willis picked state Sen. John Scott, D-Columbia, as her choice for lieutenant governor in March. State Rep. James Smith, D-Columbia, is expected to announce fellow Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, D-Lancaster, as his running mate at a campaign event Friday in her hometown.

Follow Jamie Lovegrove on Twitter @jslovegrove.

Jamie Lovegrove is a political reporter covering the South Carolina statehouse and congressional delegation. He previously covered Texas politics in Washington for The Dallas Morning News and in Austin for the Texas Tribune.