McMaster pauses campaign events as Hurricane Ian hits SC

Tropical Weather South Carolina

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has temporarily suspended campaign activities as he leads the state's response to Hurricane Ian.

McMaster's campaign told The Associated Press that the Republican incumbent would cancel a fundraiser scheduled for Friday night in Clemson, as well as an appearance for tailgating before the Clemson Tigers' football game on Saturday.

McMaster has been talking with officials across the state and holding daily briefings this week as the state made preparations for the storm, which ravaged Florida and barreled onward to South Carolina's coast, all of which has been under a hurricane advisory.

Politics and hurricanes often collide in South Carolina, where the final months before the November general elections can turn into busy storm seasons.

In 2018, both McMaster and his Democratic opponent, then-Rep. James Smith, pulled down their campaign events as Hurricane Florence approached the state.

Smith, who was a major in the South Carolina National Guard, was activated during that storm response, tasked with coordinating the distribution of resources across the state.

As the current governor, McMaster is maintaining a high visibility during the storm, with daily, televised briefings and anticipated visits to any drastically impacted areas.

The campaign for his 2022 general election opponent, former one-term U.S. Rep. Joe Cunnigham, told AP that the Democrat had no events scheduled for Friday and “expects to get back to normal” on Saturday "assuming all goes OK” with the storm.

Ads for both campaigns remained on television as of Friday morning.

During Friday's briefing, McMaster said he had spoken earlier in the day with President Joe Biden — with whom he has politically been at odds — noting that he was appreciative of the White House’s support.

“They’ve been helpful and cooperative and, as we all know, when there’s a hurricane, there's no politics involved there,” McMaster said.

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