SC GOP Gov

Republican candidates for South Carolina governor, from left to right, top to bottom, Kevin Bryant, Catherine Templeton, Yancey McGill, Henry McMaster and John Warren. Provided photos.

The Republicans running governor will debate Wednesday without the current officeholder, making Gov. Henry McMaster a likely target of their barbs.

During the Greenville Tea Party debate Monday, McMaster's GOP gubernatorial challengers focused on the 70-year-old political veteran rather than on each other.

"I think Gov. McMaster might have been running in 1895," Greenville businessman John Warren joked in answering a question about changing the state's 123-year-old constitution.

McMaster will be visiting with the Horry County GOP in North Myrtle Beach while Warren, Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill and Mount Pleasant attorney Catherine Templeton debate at the College of Charleston.  

The governor will tussle with his Republican challengers closer to the June 12 primary during a pair of debates being held by ETV and The Post and Courier at Clemson University and the University of South Carolina.

On Wednesday, voters should expect to see a lot of agreement.

The four GOP candidates basically agreed with each other on issues from education to abortion at the Tea Party debate  Monday, and they all dinged Democrats and the General Assembly.

What separated them is their talking points.

Look for Templeton to mention former Gov. Nikki Haley — a lot. Haley put Templeton in charge of two state agencies, and the now-United Nations ambassador remains popular among Republicans in the state.

Warren will mention his military service and combat mission in Iraq. And like Templeton, he will sell himself as an outsider targeting corruption in Columbia.

Bryant's focus on right-to-life issues means he will look forward to tackling questions about the state even acting as a pass-through for federal money sent to Planned Parenthood. 

McGill, who switched from the Democratic Party in 2016, will talk about how his experience as a longtime state senator has prepared him for the top seat.

The debate, starting at 7 p.m., will be televised on four Sinclair Broadcast Group stations across the state: WCIV in Charleston, WACH in Columbia, WPDE in Myrtle Beach and WLOS in Greenville. WCIV also will offer a live-stream.

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Columbia Bureau Chief

Shain runs The Post and Courier's team based in South Carolina's capital city. He was editor of Free Times and has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Charlotte, Columbia and Myrtle Beach.