Describing himself as the best-qualified candidate to solve the state’s problems, Greenville businessman John Warren announced February 12, 2018, that he is jumping into the Republican race for governor.
Warren, a 38-year-old Marine veteran, is seeking elected office for the first time.
“I am businessman, a conservative and a Marine,” Warren said during an interview at the downtown offices of Lima One Capital, the specialty mortgage finance company that he founded.
“I am not a politician. I am not a government insider, and I am not a lawyer,” he said. “And I think the state needs more of people with my background than the former.”
Warren said he is a problem-solver who will work to address a failed nuclear project that he said has put the state $4 billion in debt, a pension program that has a large deficit and a public-education system that he says needs to be improved.
He also said he will pursue ethics reform as a Statehouse corruption probe continues.
“We have lobbyists running rampant,” Warren said. “We have legislators getting indicted.”
“Most South Carolinians are frustrated with how things are being run down there,” Warren said. “They want someone who can go down there and actually reform government and make government more efficient, improve customer service. And usually business people — CEOs — that is all we do. We solve problems, and we please our customers.”
Warren started exploring a run for governor in December when he put $50,000 of his own money into a campaign account. He said he waited until Monday to announce his candidacy so that he could hire a new CEO for his company, organize his campaign staff and be present for the birth of his second son two weeks ago.
Besides seeking campaign contributions, Warren said, “My wife and I are going to be making a significant contribution to our campaign because we believe in South Carolina and we don’t want to be beholden also to any of the special-interest groups like some of the other candidates.”
He enters the race just over four months before the June 12 statewide primary. Four other Republican candidates are running for governor. They include incumbent Gov. Henry McMaster, Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant of Anderson, Charleston attorney Catherine Templeton and former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill.
Three Democrats — Charleston consultant Phil Noble, state Rep. James Smith and attorney Marguerite Willis, who was raised in Greenville and now lives in Florence — are vying to face the Republican nominee in the Nov. 6 general election.
Warren did not seem overly concerned Monday that polls show McMaster is leading the Republican race and that the incumbent has been endorsed by President Donald Trump.
“I believe my message is going to carry the day,” Warren said. “If you look at what President Trump stood for in terms of draining the swamp, in terms of bringing business principles to government, I am the only candidate in this race that can do that.”
Bryant, who was running a distant second to McMaster in a poll released last month, welcomed Warren to the race.
“I am big believer in competition,” Bryant said.
Like Warren, Templeton is casting herself as a conservative outsider. She has enjoyed considerable financial backing and had about $2.3 million in campaign cash on hand at the end of 2017, not far behind McMaster’s $2.5 million. Templeton ran two state agencies under former Gov. Nikki Haley.
Responding to Warren’s announcement Monday, Templeton’s campaign issued a statement on her behalf.
“We need an outsider with proven results firing entrenched bureaucrats, deregulating, cutting government waste, and taking on the corrupt good old boy system,” read the statement. “I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again.”
Warren predicted that his military experience and business background will appeal to voters.
He served in Iraq and rose to the rank of captain during a four-year enlistment in the Marines that included decorations for valor in combat and heroic achievement, according to his campaign website.
Since its creation in 2010, Lima One Capital has grown into one of the largest lenders for residential real-estate investors and home builders, according to the company’s website. The company has raised more than $1 billion in capital from institutional investors and has more than 80 full-time employees.
“I have led over 300 combat missions. I have actually started a company,” Warren said. “We need people that have done things of that nature serving South Carolina.”
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Original Source: Greenville News