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Democrat Noble joins race for governor

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Charleston businessman Phil Noble has become the second Democrat to enter the 2018 race for S.C. governor, joining state Rep. James Smith, D-Columbia, in vying for the party’s nomination.

Noble is president of S.C. New Democrats, a group founded by former S.C. Gov. Richard Riley, and a longtime Democratic activist.

NobleSouth Carolina is “an amazing state with terrific potential, but a broken, dysfunctionally corrupt state government is keeping us from having all the things we ought to have,” Noble told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Noble, who has yet to file with the state Election Commission, will make a formal announcement on Wednesday. Smith announced his candidacy on Thursday.

Noble founded his political and public affairs firm, Phil Noble and Associates, in 1979 and started PoliticsOnline in 1996. A champion of education reform, he’s pushed for programs such as South Carolina’s One Laptop Per Child initiative.

In 1994, Noble ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor. He lost a 2011 bid for state Democratic Party chairman to Columbia attorney Dick Harpootlian.

South Carolina hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 1998. Noble and Smith will vie to unseat Gov. Henry McMaster, who is seeking his first full term. Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill and former S.C. Department of Labor secretary Catherine Templeton are also seeking the Republican nomination. 

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