Republican former Rep. Hunter Limbaugh endorses James Smith for governor of South Carolina

October 31, 2018
Press Contact: Brad Warthen, 803-315-1886

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Hunter Limbaugh, a conservative Republican who served with Rep. James Smith in the S.C. House of Representatives, issued this statement today:

Since 1976, my first time voting, I have voted for a Democrat (federal, state, or local) exactly twice. As of this week, that number has increased to three. On Monday, I voted in-person absentee for James Emerson Smith Jr. for governor. Some context:

I was a conservative Republican legislator. As a younger man I was full of the certitude of the ideologue. My “conservatism” was one of the constituent parts that made up my whole. My intellectual, philosophical, and ideological curiosity was circumscribed by what I read in National Review (establishment conservatism), Chronicles (paleo conservatism), Reason (libertarianism), Commentary and The Weekly Standard (neoconservatism), and The American Spectator (edgy and funny conservatism). Yes, people used to get magazines delivered to their homes by someone called “the mailman!”

Had there been an analogue to the Freedom Caucus in the S.C. House of Representatives when I served, I’d have been a founding member. So what’s changed? How and why would I support a Democrat for governor?

First and probably foremost, I’ve known and respected James Smith since he was a bouncing baby legislator in 1996. I have watched in admiration as he has grown into a legislative leader; one not just willing to but anxious to work across party lines for the benefit of our state. I watched in awe as he resigned his commission in the Army JAG Corp after 9/11 to enlist as an infantryman in the National Guard and deploy to Afghanistan, where he earned a Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman Badge, and a Purple Heart. He did this as a husband and father to young children – because he was called to do it on behalf of his country. James is no “summer soldier and sunshine patriot.” He is a man of integrity and a man with the courage of his convictions.

Secondly and lastly, I have, over time, become convinced that the domination of government by one party (either one) becomes stultifying and corrosive to the polity. I believe this to be so even where I might tend to align more closely on most matters with the party “in power.” When a single party dominates, too many voices and interests are unheard and unaddressed. The political ideology drifts further and further toward the margins as the overarching concern for re-election tends to play out in primaries where the political extremes generally hold sway.

That is a scenario that is ultimately destructive to our society. We are seeing it play out on the national stage, and our democracy is not sustainable in these circumstances. I believe it essential that our citizens have a government that seeks (however imperfectly) to represent everyone. That requires the Republican to appreciate the healthcare needs of the least of us, and the Democrat to appreciate that nothing the government provides is “free,” for example.

Balance and compromise.

Jefferson famously said that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. I prefer to think that the tree of liberty should be refreshed from time to time with the ideas of those who see things differently from “us.” Our government needs refreshing, and I believe that James Smith is the ideal candidate to do that.

James is all about finding ways to make our government work for the benefit of all South Carolinians. He has no interest in exploiting “wedge issues,” dividing the citizenry into “us” and “them,” or prioritizing perceived political advantage over effective government. James Smith is the right person, at the right time, and I’m proud to support him for governor of South Carolina.