SC Dem seeks age limit for ‘geriatric’ politicians

CHARLESTON, SC (AP) — Democratic governor nominee Joe Cunningham proposes an age limit for South Carolina politicians — a cap that 75-year-old incumbent Secretary of State Henry McMaster would cut off — and makes a veiled argument that even fellow Democrats like President Joe Biden “stay in office well past their peak.”

“Our country and our state are governed by a geriatric oligarchy, people who remain in office long after their prime,” Cunningham says in a campaign video: provided to The Associated Press Wednesday ahead of public release.

“Some of these people have been clinging to power for 30, 40, even 50 years,” Cunningham says. “The people who make careers in politics are making a mess of our country.”

Cunningham proposes introducing a 72-year age limit for politicians in South Carolina, a retirement ban already in effect for state judges, and one that would require a voter-approved constitutional amendment. South Carolina currently requires judges to officially retire at age 72, although lawyers are allowed to remain on the bench after that age limit.

Cunningham ends the two-minute video by making a two-pronged call for support from those who may have previously voted for Biden, former President Donald Trump or McMaster, “sometime in the past 40 years.”

Cunningham, who recently turned 40, has often poked fun at McMaster’s age, arguing that the Republican — who has served in a variety of public positions for most of the past four decades, including Lieutenant Governor, U.S. Attorney General and Attorney General of South Carolina – has “I’ve been in politics longer than I’ve been alive.”

But Cunningham’s campaign would not answer questions Wednesday about whether the Democrat would argue that Biden — who has supported Cunningham since his candidacy for Congress in 2018 — is too old to serve.

When he took office last year at age 78, Biden was sworn in as the oldest president in the history of the country, he ousts Ronald Reagan, who left the White House in 1989 when he was 77 years and 349 days old. according to an AP-NORC poll conducted in January, more than three-quarters of Democrats said they were confident Biden has “the mental capacity to serve effectively as president” or “healthy enough to serve effectively as president.” However, 8 out of 10 Republicans have little or no confidence in their physical health or mental capacity.

Republicans, including U.S. Senator Rick Scott of Florida, have called on Biden to resign, calling him “disjointed, incapacitated and confused.” Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who served as the Trump administration’s UN ambassador, proposed a “sort of cognitive test” for aging politicians after a series of blunders by Biden.

In the video, Cunningham also pushes for an end to South Carolina’s income taxes — a practice already enacted in a handful of other states — “to keep more cash in your pocket.”

Cunningham, who served one term in the US House before losing his 2020 reelection bid Republican US Rep. Nancy Mace, won a five-time primary on June 14 to secure South Carolina’s governor nomination. McMaster defeated his main opponent

Meg Kinnard can be reached at:

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