Joe Cunningham, the Democratic candidate for governor of South Carolina, attended the first session of USC's organization fair on Thursday to speak to students and encourage them to vote in the upcoming November election.
Cunningham said he attended the fair because he views young people as the next generation of leadership.
"They have a stake in what the future of South Carolina looks like," Cunningham said. "They've had the same politicians in Columbia for 30, 40, 50 years making decisions for them, and they've been failing every single year and every single decade, and so it's time for something new. And if they want South Carolina to change, you have to change your politicians."
Cunningham is running against Republican incumbent Henry McMaster. He became governor in 2017 after Nikki Haley's confirmation as Ambassador to the United Nations. McMaster was elected to his first full term as governor in 2018.
Cunningham's running mate, former fighter pilot and attorney Tally Parham Casey, also attended the org fair.
The two plan to implement policies that impact USC students. He vowed to create more lucrative job opportunities in South Carolina that could support young adults in paying off loans and mortgages as well as plans to improve teacher retention.
"A lot of students are gonna be graduating here and they're heading to Atlanta or Charlotte or somewhere else for jobs. We can have those jobs right here in South Carolina, so you can come home and do what you love," Cunningham said. "It's about having jobs that can ... pay rent, pay mortgage, pay for student loans, put sock money away for 401K and allows you to live your life comfortably. That's what students want."
Casey emphasized the importance of students paying attention to laws being passed in the statehouse this year.
"You know, the bill that's in the house right now, the legislature came back from vacation, passed a sine die motion to come back in and try to restrict women's rights. And so they're passing a draconian measure that's going to prevent women from choosing to terminate their pregnancy without any exceptions," Casey said. "That's not something we can sit around and tolerate."
The candidates, originally scheduled to arrive at 12:30 p.m., were delayed to 1:30 p.m. but took time to introduce themselves and take pictures with students in front of the College Democrats table at the fair on Greene Street.
Jada Furtick, a fourth-year history and art history student and intern for the Cunningham campaign, said she thinks it is beneficial that students be able to meet Cunningham face-to-face.
"Just making sure people see him, I think, is the best part because you can hear him or you can see him in TikToks or whatever, but actually seeing him in person and seeing who he is and what he's for is the best part," Furtick said.
Emma Schwertfuehrer, a third-year vocal performance student and the president of the College Democrats chapter at USC, said that Cunningham was beneficial in garnering student interest for the club.
"This semester, College Dems is going to have people coming, and people are here, and they want college students to come vote. So you should register, you should be ready. Midterms are important," Schwertfuehrer said.