Governor hopeful says he’ll raise SC teacher pay, ‘do something’ about crime in new TV ad

·2 min read
Joshua Boucher/

South Carolina Democratic governor hopeful Joe Cunningham on Monday launched his first television ad of 2022, featuring his family and a campaign promise to pay teachers more and solve the state’s crime problem.

The 30-second, six-figure ad buy, titled “Family,” will run in the Columbia, Charleston and Greenville television markets. The ad is planned to run through the June 14 primary.

Cunningham’s campaign did not disclose how many times the ad will run on the air.

This is the campaign’s second TV ad buy this cycle. In August, Cunningham launched a smaller, five-figure buy, where he criticized Gov. Henry McMaster for refusing to let local school districts decide whether to require children to wear masks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, instead leaving that decision up to parents.

Cunningham’s latest ad features his son, Boone, and six nieces and nephews.

“Right now I’m worried about all our kids futures,” the former 1st District congressman says in the ad. “That’s why in Congress I voted for the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and to protect our environment. Now I’m running for governor to put term limits on politicians, pay our teachers more and actually do something about our crime problem. And with your help, we can get it done.”

Cunningham does not elaborate in the ad how he plans to fix the state’s crime problem, but has repeatedly addressed the state’s rising violent crime rates, the need for expanding background checks to buy guns and investing in community-based violence prevention programs.

The ad ends with Cunningham’s son, nieces and nephews pushing him into the pool. His campaign would not say whether the push was planned or improvised.

Cunningham is one of five candidates seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor. He’s so far raised $1.7 million for his campaign through the end of March, leaving him with about $536,000 cash on hand.

With Cunningham, Richland County’s state Sen. Mia McLeod, Carlton Boyd and Calvin McMillan, and William Williams, of Florence, will be on the June 14 ballot.

McLeod, who is the first Black woman to seek the statewide seat and the only other candidate with high name ID, meanwhile, has not spent any money on television ads, focusing her media outreach efforts on social media.

She has raised $447,000 through the end of March, giving her about $112,000 left in the bank.

Whoever wins the Democratic nomination will likely face McMaster in the November general election.

The Republican incumbent has raised more than $5 million this cycle, according to his latest State Ethics Commission report.

Republicans Harrison Musselwhite, of Greenville, and Mindy Steele, of Moncks Corner, also are seeking the GOP nomination.

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