By: Jamie Self
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S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster has something no other candidate for governor has — a running mate.
Introducing herself to members of the Clover-Lake Wylie Republican Women’s Club at the affluent River Hills Country Club Friday, Pamela Evette shared the story of how she became McMaster’s running mate.
Her upbringing in a recent immigrant family played a role. Then, there was her support for Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. Finally, she met McMaster, another Trump fan, and he sold her on his passion for the state.
The River Hills event is one of several that political newcomer Evette, an entrepreneur from Travelers Rest, has on her schedule as June’s GOP primary for governor approaches.
Filing for the November general election opens in mid-March, just a few weeks away. But none of the other seven declared Republican and Democratic candidates for governor has named a running mate.
That means, at least for the moment, that McMaster has an advantage on the campaign trail — Evette, a surrogate who is traveling the state and sharing a vision for South Carolina.
Evette, 50, also offers balance to the McMaster-led GOP ticket — a younger woman, compared to the older pol; a political newcomer, compared to the 30-year candidate; and a Greenville-area businesswoman who started a company, compared to the lifelong public servant.
Aside from working for his family’s real-estate business, McMaster, 20 years older than Evette, has spent his career running or holding political office.
Evette’s payroll and benefits management company, with more than 30 full- and part-time employees serving clients across the country, had more than $1 billion in revenue last year, she said.
Active in her civic community, Evette also brings ties to the GOP’s voter-rich Upstate that could benefit McMaster, whose roots are in the Midlands.
‘Trump girl from the beginning’
On the campaign trail, Evette is selling herself, too.
The granddaughter of immigrants who came to the United States in 1910, Evette says growing up in a multi-generational home influenced her.
“We appreciated the American dream,” she said, adding her father, a conservative tool-and-die maker, molded her as a conservative problem solver and successful business owner.
“Dad used to have a unique approach to problems in our house. ‘If you have a problem, don’t come to me and tell me about it unless you have a solution,’ ” she recalled him saying.
Evette says her family upbringing, support for President Donald Trump and a meeting with McMaster led her to jump into politics.
Evette — a self-described “Trump girl from the beginning” — and McMaster met at the president’s inauguration.
“When he (McMaster) talks to you about South Carolina and the people of South Carolina, you see how much passion he has for the people of this state,” she said.
Evette was received warmly Friday by the Clover-Lake Wylie Republican Women’s Club. After her comments, one yelled, “Well, I’m impressed!”
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