The debate between the two candidates for lieutenant governor got off to a heated start as both Republican Ken Ard and Democrat Ashley Cooper attempted to portray themselves as businessmen and the other as a politician. The pair met in a televised ETV debate Monday night.
At the debate’s opening, Cooper attacked Ard’s record as a Florence County Councilman.
AUDIO – Cooper accuses Ard
Ard said he did not vote for any tax increases, saying the increase was approved by a referendum.
Since the lieutenant governor oversees the state’s Office on Aging, the debate focused on issues important to seniors. One of these was payday lending. Ard said the state should be careful about overregulating an industry.
AUDIO – Ard on payday lending
Cooper said those lenders are often a threat to seniors.
AUDIO – Cooper on payday lending
Another issue is research hubs that try to spur economic activity, such as the South Carolina Research Alliance and the University of South Carolina’s Innovista. Cooper said he supports the hubs, but wants to improve them.
AUDIO – Cooper on economic incubators
Ard said he likes the hubs, but thinks that universities need to emphasize job training, rather than recruiting companies to South Carolina.
AUDIO – Ard: emphasis on higher ed should change
Both disagreed on whether a lieutenant governor should even be an elected position. Ard said the governor should have more power to control the executive branch.
AUDIO – Ard: Lt. Gov. should be appointed
Cooper said having an election makes the job more accountable.
AUDIO – Cooper: Lt. Gov should be elected
Ard is a Florence County councilman who also once ran a truck body business. Cooper is an energy lawyer who served as counsel for former South Carolina senator Fritz Hollings.
The full debates can be seen on the ETV website.