Politics & Government

Lancaster's Norrell joins Democrat Smith's ticket for South Carolina governor's race

South Carolina gubernatorial candidate James Smith announced during a Friday afternoon campaign stop that he will share the ticket with Lancaster Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell.

“Mandy Powers Norrell is simply the real deal,” Smith said. “She knows the hard working people of South Carolina. And she remembers them every day. That’s who she works for.”

Norrell has served in the state Legislature with Smith since 2013.

Norrell, who delivered the Democratic party's response to Republican Gov. Nikki Haley's State of the State address in 2016, has been gaining prominence in the Democratic party.

The State reported Tuesday the move was widely expected in Columbia.

"She has proven herself to be someone who has a lot of respect up here (at the State House)," Sen. Thomas McElveen, D-Sumter, who has not endorsed a Democratic candidate for governor, told The State. "She is a pragmatist. She's a bridge builder and someone who has proven that she can get things done."

Norrell served as Lancaster city attorney before her election to the state House of Representatives.

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-06) said he believes Smith and Norrell truly represent South Carolina and are as “in tune with who and what we are as a people,” as two candidates could be.

Norrell said her parents and grandparents never could have imagined where she would be today, something she said is a testament to the state’s textile industry and public school system.

But she said those jobs are now gone, or shipped overseas. She said it’s the responsibility of leaders to ensure residents are prepared for the work that is available.

“For me, working in The Bleachery taught me some of the most important lessons of my life,” Norrell said. “It taught me the value of hard work. It taught me how to treat people who depend on you. It taught me how good it feels at the end of the day to rest after a hard days work and know that you earned it.”

SC Rep. John King (D-Rock Hill) said adding Norrell to his ticket is “the smartest thing he (Smith) could do.” King, who serves in the state House of Representatives with Norrell, said he considers her family.

“Mandy shows the balance between her fighting spirit and grace and love for others every day in the South Carolina House,” King said.

He said Norrell, who worked textile jobs to put herself through college, understands hard work.

She attended Furman University and the University of South Carolina School of Law. She was the first in her family to graduate from college.

Many Republicans say they are fiscal hawks, King said, “but I have never seen a Republican elected officials clip as many coupons as Mandy does.”

But even then, a lot of what she buys with those clipped coupons goes to charities, he said.

The 2018 election is the first year gubernatorial candidates will run on a joint ticket with their lieutenant governor choices.

Smith faces Marguerite Willis, a Democratic candidate for S.C. governor, state Sen. John Scott (D-Richland) and Phil Noble in the June Democratic primary. Willis is running with state Sen. John Scott (D-Richland) and Noble is running with educator and former Georgia Rep. Gloria Tinubu.

"She (Norrell) would bring a lot to his (Smith's) ticket," state Rep. Beth Bernstein, D-Richland told The State. "They share a common goal of improving the lives of South Carolinians. She's intelligent. She's a woman, and she works really hard. She's the first person in her family to go to college and is the child of mill workers. She can relate with the working-class citizens of South Carolina."

Hannah Smoot: 803-329-4068, @hgsmoot
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