Cunningham picks former fighter pilot as SC government running mate

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) — Joe Cunningham has chosen Tally Parham Casey, a civilian litigant who flew fighter jets on three combat tours over Iraq, to ​​be his running mate in his quest to become the first Democratic governor of South Carolina in 20 years.

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

Cunningham, 40, planned to introduce Casey, 52, at an event in his hometown of Greenville.

“I have long admired Joe’s bipartisan approach to governance and believe he is exactly what South Carolina needs as governor,” Casey said in a statement provided by the campaign, calling his selection of “incredible honor and privilege”.

“Joe is an ordinary guy who has the courage to speak our minds,” she also said in the statement.

This is the second round of gubernatorial elections in which candidates for South Carolina’s two top leadership positions are running on the same ticket. In years past, governors and their lieutenant governors were elected separately, which meant that sometimes politicians clashed ideologically or belonged to different parties.

Last week, Gov. Henry McMaster and Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette, 54, became South Carolina’s first gubernatorial ticket to file for re-election., with McMaster calling the founder of the payroll company “knowledgeable about the trials, tribulations and challenges of business.” This set of skills, said the governorcompletes his decades in law and politics.

Since being elected in 2018, Evette has spent many months traveling the state, meeting with businesses and promoting their relationships with South Carolina technical training schools. She and the governor say keeping them strong is key to the state’s manufacturing economy.

Cunningham also points to his running mate’s diverse experiences. 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 is a woman brings that perspective to the post, especially in light of everything that happened with Governor McMaster’s attack on our freedoms and his assault on women’s rights. This makes it all the more personal for Tally.

The Republican-dominated legislature is on track to make abortions even harder to get in South Carolina following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn its Roe v. Wade, nearly 50 years old, asserting a constitutional right to process.

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

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

“If there are other steps, if there are other things that they think should be done after careful consideration, then I would like to hear about that,” McMaster said.

Cunningham 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 in the state’s Air National Guard 157th Fighter Squadron in 1996 and achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel. She has nearly 1,500 hours in the F-16, including more than 100 in combat, and has received numerous service-related awards.

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

Like Cunningham, Casey is significantly younger than McMaster, who at 75 is the state’s longest-serving governor and whose age the Democrat says is too old. to adequately represent South Carolinians.

“He’s been in politics longer than I’ve been alive, and you see where that got us,” Cunningham said. “What Tally is proposing is much-needed change, and it will be a refreshing approach to politics.”

Cunningham has proposed an age cap of 72 for office holders in South Carolina – a change that would require voters to approve a constitutional change. He signaled his openness to a similar federal age limit, which would apply to House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, 82, of South Carolina, and President Joe Biden, 79.


Meg Kinnard can be reached at

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