Their first debate last week brought a bit of fury to a staid South Carolina governor's race.

The second one, less than two weeks before voters head to the polls, should be fiercer.

Republican Gov. Henry McMaster and Democratic state Rep. James Smith meet in a final debate at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Greenville Technical College Technical Resource Center Auditorium in Greenville.

The Columbia lawyers clashed in Florence on Oct. 17 where Smith, who promised a positive campaign, finally went after McMaster.

If the primary debates are any indication, look for the governor to launch sharper criticisms at Smith in their second round.

Smith's main line of attack last week was that McMaster had no plans to lift South Carolina's poor education and health rankings.

"I just think he's not right for our future. He might have been the governor of 50 years ago," said Smith, who is trying to become the first Democrat in the Governor's Mansion in the past two decades. "But the fact is we need to move South Carolina forward."

The governor shot back, more mildly, that Smith would raise taxes on South Carolinians, pulling a list of tax increases the lawmaker has backed in the General Assembly.

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"That is a killer on business growth and development, which is the answer to most of our problems," said McMaster, who is trying to win his first four-year term in the governor's office he inherited from Nikki Haley in January 2017 after she became the United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

S.C. ETV and S.C. Public Radio will broadcast the debate presented with The Post and Courier.

Charles Bierbauer, a former longtime CNN correspondent and dean of the University of South Carolina College of Information and Communications, and Andy Shain, The Post and Courier’s Columbia bureau chief, will moderate the debate.

The election is Nov. 6.

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