CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Joe Cunningham, a Democratic candidate running for South Carolina governor, announced this week intentions to further diversify his cabinet if he is elected to the office next week.
The former U.S. Congressman said he believes the executive branch should not be run entirely by one party, despite who wins the governors race, and made a pledge to offer half of his cabinet positions to Republicans.
“This is an incredibly diverse state – racially, politically, economically – and state government should represent that diversity,” said Cunningham. “When I’m governor, I don’t want to surround myself with people who agree with me on everything. I want to be challenged and hear from all sides before making the best decisions for our state. A bipartisan cabinet is one of many ways we can do that.”
According to his campaign, Cunningham previously pledged to have the most diverse and inclusive cabinet and staff by any governor in South Carolina’s history, noting that his cabinet would include women and minorities.
But his new pledge, he believes, would take that diversity a little further.
“Abraham Lincoln is my favorite American president. And when he was elected, he surrounded himself with a team of rivals – people who previously opposed him and many who disagreed with him on key issues. That helped Lincoln work better with Congress and allowed him to focus on the most important issues that would bring people together,” said Cunningham.
He went on to say, “South Carolina desperately needs new ideas – but neither party has a monopoly on new or good ideas. That’s why I will always listen to those who disagree with me and ensure that our state is being led by people who care more about people than party.”
After turning South Carolina’s First Congressional District blue in the 2018 election, Cunningham – according to his campaign – hired several Republican staff members who previously served in former U.S. Congressman Mark Sanford’s office.
He also served as a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of U.S. House members who sought to foster bipartisan cooperation on key policy issues.
Cunningham is running against incumbent Republican Henry McMaster in the November 8 election.
When asked for comment, a spokesman for the McMaster-Evette campaign, Brandon Charochak, responded by saying, “Unlike Mr. Cunningham the governor doesn’t use party affiliation as a litmus test for who serves in his cabinet – he has selected the best person for the job, period, and that’s why South Carolina is booming.”