COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) — Gubernatorial candidates debated for the first and only time ahead of next month’s election Wednesday night. They sold their stances on abortion, the economy, crime and other issues to voters in the nearly hour-long debate. 

Incumbent Republican Gov. Henry McMaster & Democratic challenger former Congressman Joe Cunningham faced off. 

“We’ve had some great successes and but we’ve also had some unusual things we’ve had to battle Washington the whole time,” McMaster said. “I’ve never seen so many ideas come from one place in such a short time.”

“I’m sick and tired of the divisiveness and I’m sick and tired of the extremists in politics like Governor McMaster,” Cunningham said. “I’m running for governor to expand freedom.”

Right away both were asked about their differing views on abortion.

“If politicians are able to come into your doctor’s offices what can they not do?,” Cunningham said. “That’s why the consequences of this election are so dire because if an abortion ban with no exceptions makes it to his desk — he’ll sign it. I’ll veto it.”

“Mr. Cunningham is for pre-Roe. As we know that allowed abortion up to 24 weeks,” McMaster said. “That’s six months. Six months that Roe allowed abortions for any reason or no reason at all. That’s the radical position.”

With South Carolinians impacted by inflation and bracing for a possible recession, both candidates talked about their economic policies.

“We’ve cut taxes. Do you know the income tax rates have never been cut before,” McMaster said. “We’ve had more people working than we’ve ever had before.”

“Folks we can be that economic lighthouse for businesses that want to grow or expand into South Carolina but we have to have no ideas.

Both Cunningham and McMaster say they will look to make changes to the state’s criminal justice system and take steps to keep violent repeat offenders behind bars.

“The Governor’s catch and release program is clearly not working,” Cunningham said. “Every person in this state should feel safe when their kids walk out the door.”

“We need to have reform. We need to enhance the penalties but the main thing is we need to make sure we’re catching these people.”

Both candidates said they would accept the results of November’s election.