MYRTLE BEACH — Gov. Henry McMaster highlighted the business credentials of his running mate Monday in one of their first appearances together on the campaign trail.
McMaster announced in November he would be campaigning with Pamela Evette, the owner of a Greenville County-based payroll processing firm. Evette, a political novice who is largely unknown to South Carolina voters, is leaning on her entrepreneurial experience and connections with the business community in the Upstate as she begins to make the case that she should be the next lieutenant governor.
"We talk all the time and she and my wife Peggy talk all the time. ... She's a great addition," McMaster said.
Monday's roundtable with business owners at the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce was the first time Evette has appeared at a public event with McMaster since he announced her as his running mate. She has campaigned on her own and with the governor's wife.
She said the move into political life has gone well.
"I don't know that I would have the confidence to do that (transition into politics) without having a great mentor like the governor to show me the ropes, because it is a different world when you come from business into public service," Evette said.
She is an Ohio native who moved to Travelers Rest in 2005. Evette has run Quality Business Solutions for 18 years with her husband David, who was also present Monday.
"I'm hoping to take everything that I've learned in the past 18 years and champion business in Columbia," she said.
Governor-lieutenant governor tickets were approved by South Carolina voters in a 2012 referendum. They will not be on the ballot for June's party primaries but will be in the November general election.
So far, McMaster is the only candidate of the five GOP and three Democratic hopefuls to announce a running mate.
He attended multiple events in the Myrtle Beach area on Monday, and said the concerns of the Grand Strand — South Carolina's most lucrative tourist destination, were important to the whole state.
"The regionalism that used to stop conversation and preclude a lot of answers is, I think, just disappearing, because it's all one big family," he said.
In a morning speech at Coastal Carolina University, McMaster tried to paint a sunny picture of the state's current economic status. He mentioned the dredging of the Port of Charleston, which started on Monday. He said the state's combination of a good climate, respected research institutions and technical colleges to train the workforce made it formidable in attracting new companies.
“We are right in exactly the right place," he said during the speech. "There’s not a better place in the world that we could be that's better for our future prosperity and happiness in South Carolina.”