Cunningham picks former fighter pilot as SC gov’s running mate

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) — Joe Cunningham has chosen Tally Parham Casey, a civilian trial attorney who flew fighter jets on three combat trips over Iraq, as his running mate in his quest to become South Carolina’s first Democratic governor in 20 years.

“She’s one of the most impressive people I’ve ever met,” said Cunningham, who gave a preview of his choice as lieutenant governor for The Associated Press, ahead of a formal announcement Monday. “She’s been fighting for our freedoms abroad and she wants to keep fighting for those freedoms, so that’s why I put her on the ticket, and she’s agreed to do it.

Cunningham, 40, planned to propose to Casey, 52, at an event in Greenville, her hometown.

This is the second election cycle in which the contenders for South Carolina’s two top executive offices are running on the same ticket. In recent years, governors and their lieutenant governors were elected separately, meaning the politicians sometimes clashed ideologically or were of different parties.

Last week, Governor Henry McMaster and Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette, 54, were South Carolina’s first gubernatorial ticket to file for reelection, with McMaster calling the payroll company founder “completely familiar with the trials, tribulations and challenges of business.” those skills, the governor said:complements his decades in law and politics.

Since her election in 2018, Evette has spent many months traveling around the state, meeting companies and promoting their relationships with South Carolina technical training schools. Both she and the governor say keeping them strong for the state’s manufacturing economy is key.

Cunningham also points to the diverse experiences of his running mate. Casey’s military service, legal knowledge and the fact that she is a woman make her the right person for where he would like to take the state, he said.

“Tally is the best person for the job, period,” Cunningham told AP. “And the fact that she’s a woman brings that perspective to the fore, especially in light of everything that happened with Governor McMaster’s attack on our freedoms and his attack on women’s rights. That makes it much more personal for Tally.”

The Republican-dominated legislature is on track to make abortions in South Carolina even more difficult after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade ruling, which grants a constitutional right to the procedure confirmed.

While abortion rights groups challenge In the current state law, which prohibits abortions after six weeks of pregnancy but includes some exceptions, a special legislative committee last week proposed to ban almost all abortions except when the mother’s life is in danger.

McMaster, who has? said he would work “immediately” with those lawmakers, said last week the six-week ban includes “good exceptions” and is “quite reasonable.”

“If there are other steps, if there are other things they think should be done after thorough research, I’d love to hear about them,” McMaster said.

Cunningham has called on lawmakers to postpone debate on the measure this fall until after the November election.

Casey was South Carolina’s first female fighter pilot, enlisting with the State Air National Guard’s 157th Fighter Squadron in 1996 and reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel. She has nearly 1,500 hours in the F-16, more than 100 of them in combat, and has received numerous service-related awards.

Casey has also been an attorney for more than two decades, primarily at Wyche PA in Columbia, where she was elected president in 2017, and focuses on commercial litigation, product liability, insurance, and aerospace law. The graduate of Princeton University and the University of Virginia School of Law was also a federal law clerk.

Like Cunningham, Casey is significantly younger than McMaster, who is the state’s oldest governor at 75, and whose age is too high according to the Democrat? to adequately represent South Carolinians.

“He’s literally been in politics longer than I have, and look where that has taken us,” Cunningham said. “What Tally is offering is much-needed change, and it will be a refreshing take on politics.”

Cunningham has proposed an age limit of 72 for South Carolina office holders — a shift that requires voters to approve a constitutional amendment. He has said he is open to a similar federal age limit, which would apply to 82-year-old South Carolina House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and 79-year-old President Joe Biden.

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Meg Kinnard can be reached at: http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.

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