The first Republican gubernatorial debate to take place here will be moderated by a national TV talk show host.

State and local party representatives announced Thursday that conservative commentator Joe Scarborough, host of the MSNBC show “Morning Joe” and a former Florida congressman, will moderate the Jan. 28 event at the Memminger Auditorium.

Mallory Factor, who is chairing the debate and its organizing committee, said Charleston is a fitting location for the debate because the Holy City will play a large part in who is elected.

“The road to the governorship goes through Charleston, South Carolina. No question about it,” Factor said.

Factor said all five Republican candidates -- U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, Attorney General Henry McMaster, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and state lawmakers Nikki Haley and Larry Grooms -- have told him they would attend.

Karen Floyd, chairman of the state Republican party, said the conservative commentator’s involvement underscores how important the event is to the party and to the state.

“He will bring the entire nation’s eyes to none other than Charleston,” she said.

Nicolas Muzin, corporate counsel for the The InterTech Group, Inc., is fund-raising chairman for the event.