By Barney Blakeney
S.C. Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate Phil Noble last week met with the publishers of the state’s three largest Black owned newspapers at the Charleston Chronicle office in downtown Charleston to present his campaign agenda. Noble faces two challengers – Columbia state Rep. James Smith and Florence attorney Marguerite Willis – in the June 12 Democratic primary elections to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination for the November general election.
Noble, a Charleston businessman who has served as a political consultant to numerous campaigns nationally and internationally is a familiar figure on the political landscape. He’s been a staunch advocate for minority and underserved communities for more than 40 years. Though he’s been at the helm of many successful election campaigns, this is Noble’s first effort seeking election himself. He spent several hours last week telling Nate Abraham – Publisher of the Columbia Carolina Panorama, Larry Smith – Publisher of the Florence Community Times and Damion Smalls – Editor of the Charleston Chronicle, what he hopes to accomplish if elected governor.
Noble is recognized globally as one of the leading experts on uses of the internet in the civic sector, politics, the media, government and public affairs. He first became involved in politics at nine years old, handing out brochures for John Kennedy’s presidential campaigns in 1960 – and has since continuously been involved in politics and civic affairs in the US and in 45 countries around the world.
Noble received a BS degree from Birmingham-Southern College in 1974 after independent undergraduate study at Cambridge University in England. He also did graduate study at the University of Stockholm. He then worked as a legislative assistant in the US Senate and in 1979 started Phil Noble and Associates, a political and public affairs consulting firm. The firm has been involved in more than 350 corporate, public affairs projects and political campaigns in 40 states and 35 countries including 25 campaigns to elect the president or prime minister in countries of North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
Technology is one of the things Noble says he will bring to South Carolina government, but more importantly, he said he wants to bring a focus on state government that puts people over profits.
Announcing his ‘60 Days, 60 Events Anti-Corruption Grassroots Fundraising Drive’ Noble said, “I am the grassroots candidate and I am relying on grassroots to fund this reform campaign with small and medium donor events all across South Carolina – in supporters’ homes, businesses, restaurants, and offices. The hosts for these events are average South Carolinians who care about our state and want to see big change and real reform. There’s no special interest money here, just people who want a better state.”
Specifically regarding the state’s Black population, Noble said he is sensitive to the issues concerning Black communities. In the 1980s he was a regular attendant at the Black Professional and Business Association meetings held at the Ladson House in Charleston and developed close ties with Black civic and political icons such as ‘Big’ John Chisolm, NAACP President J. Arthur Brown, Sen. Herbert U. Fielding and state representative Rev. Robert R. Woods. While many of the issues they championed then still exist, Noble said modern times present their own issues. He recognizes that education, employment and economic development are key factors among those issues.
“Black citizens represent one-third of the state’s population. One-third of a boat doesn’t sink. In black communities, unemployment, median income, educational attainment, incarceration rates and average lifespan are all at unacceptable levels in South Carolina. There is also an education crisis and not enough economic opportunity. As governor, I will make it a top priority to reform our education system to make sure all communities are being served, rework our oppressive system of student loan debt, and promote more vocational schools, especially in economically depressed and rural regions. I will also work to prepare new generations, and our current workforce, for the high paying jobs of tomorrow,” he said.
After the meeting the publishers offered their takeaway. Abraham said, “The Black Press has a historic duty to report on issues and people that have a direct impact on the Black community. We believe that it is important to open a dialogue with the people seeking to lead us. Our meeting with Phil Noble is part of our mission to keep the community informed. We had an interesting meeting, and came away impressed about the issues that he raised.”
Smalls offered this perspective, “I was concerned about how Phil Noble would attract younger voters, such as myself, and energize them towards the polls. His candor might be his most admirable trait. Being real and upfront on tough issues is incredibly vital to our demographic and should resonate with many.”
And Smith said, “To win in South Carolina Phil Noble faces two challenges: One is Bluedog Democrats who vote mainly conservative on the issues of educational funding, healthcare for the poor and tax increases to fund any improvement in infrastructure and quality of life issues. The other challenge Phil Noble will face as he works to become the first progressive governor in South Carolina since Richard “Dick” Riley, is a conservative voting block that loves the present system the way it works today. The question is will the ‘Good Ole Boys’ in South Carolina allow anyone to win the governor’s office who is promoting a revolution in the political, economic and the social order of our state?”