While statewide and federal offices are getting most of the attention, there are a few races for the South Carolina House in Tuesday’s election that are getting attention.
District 8: Act 388 at forefront
In Anderson County, Republican incumbent Don Bowen is best known for his work getting the controversial Act 388 passed while he was still a private citizen. The act, which in 2007 shifted the burden for school funding away from property taxes and into a sales tax, resulted in less money for schools when the economy soured a year later. Bowen’s opponent, Clemson professor Tom Dobbins, has since made the act a key issue, saying he will try to repeal it if he is elected. Bowen blames a five-cent grocery tax added to Act 388, which he did not support, for the lack of revenue.
District 26: Newcomer against county councilwoman
The Easley district tends to lean Republican, but Democrats believe they have a shot this year. Greenville County Councilwoman Judy Gilstrap will face off against political newcomer Erik Bikas, who won the GOP nomination with the help of the Tea Party. Bikas owns a pair of restaurants in the area. Both are running to replace Rex Rice, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in June.
District 37: 3rd Party is the most experienced candidate?
Boiling Springs features a rarity in South Carolina races, with a third-party candidate having the most legislative experience. Constitution Party candidate Ralph Davenport served as a Republican for 22 years before retiring. He says he’s running once again because he’s concerned with what’s happening in Columbia. His target is Republican Steve Parker, who won the seat two years ago. Davenport has criticized Parker’s support of a cigarette tax increase and accepting stimulus funds. Parker says he’s helped cut spending by one billion dollars. Democrat Dolores Frazer is also in the race.
District 47: Long-time incumbent vs. nationally-known prosecutor
In York County, voters will choose between the longest-serving member of the House, Democrat Herb Kirsh, and Republican solicitor Tommy Pope – who achieved national attention for his prosecution of the Susan Smith case in 1995. Pope has avoided criticizing the popular Kirsh, saying only that he feels he could do better. Kirsh has played up his reputation as “Mr. No” in Columbia, which he says saves taxpayers money.
District 60: Questions over residency
In Sumter County’s District 60, there are questions about whether Democratic candidate Benny Webb even lives in the district. County tax records show that Webb lives outside of District 60. However, just before the filing deadline he changed his residency to a single-wide trailer inside the district that is also home to his two brothers and sister-in-law. The State Election Commission says there is no requirement that a candidate live in the district for a minimum amount of time. Webb is running against Republican incumbent Phillip Lowe.
District 63: Candidate faces tax charges
In Florence County, Republican Kris Crawford is continuing his re-election bid despite being indicted on charges that he failed to pay his taxes on time. Crawford says the charges should be thrown out, since he claims he hasn’t done anything different than gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley, who has had to pay fines for filing late in the past. Crawford says he hired an accountant to watch his taxes for him and didn’t realize the extent of his problems. He is running against Democrat Sheila Gallagher.
District 79: No time for campaigning
In the area northeast of Columbia, Democrats are scrambling to run a short campaign for Mia Butler, a political consultant who has never held a political office, after her win in a primary only six weeks ago. She’s running against Republican Sheri Few – who is making her third try for the seat. Both are trying to replace Democrat Anton Gunn, who resigned unexpectedly to take a position with the federal Department of Health and Human Services in August.
District 87: Succeeding Nikki
The race to replace Nikki Haley is between Republican newcomer Todd Atwater, currently the CEO of the South Carolina Medical Association and Democrat Pete Oliver. Most observers expect Atwater to easily beat Oliver, who does not even have a campaign website.
District 101: Transparency or campaigning?
In staunchly Democratic Williamsburg County, the current favorite is Democrat Ronnie Sabb. The current assistant solicitor created controversy in the spring by delaying a Freedom of Information request on the salaries of power utility’s Santee-Cooper’s board of trustees. Among the reasons Sabb gave in April for not releasing the company’s tax records in a timely manner was that he was busy campaigning for the Legislature. He is expected to easily beat Republican Barbara Mishoe for the seat formerly held by Ken Kennedy.
District 108: Young blood vs. connected veteran
Democratic incumbent Vida Miller is facing the youngest challenger this election season. 22-year-old Kevin Ryan is running as a Republican in the district. Miller has been Georgetown’s representative since Ryan was in elementary school, but the College of Charleston grad student is still making a hard push for the seat. Contrary to what most incumbents are doing this year, Miller is pointing to her political connections as a way to get things done in the House.
District 115: Kickbacks or gifts from friends?
Charleston’s District 115 race, the incumbent Democrat Anne Hutto said “it looks bad” for Republican assistant solicitor Peter McCoy to accept campaign contributions from lawyers in cases in which he’s involved. A campaign staffer then took it a step further, saying on his Facebook account McCoy helped criminals if their lawyers gave him money. The staffer deleted the account shortly after posting it, saying he meant the post to be a rhetorical question. McCoy said the lawyers involved gave him money because they’re friends of his. Green Party candidate Eugene Platt is also in the race.
District 21: No election today
One House seat that is not up for grabs Tuesday is in the Greenville area, where Republican Phyllis Henderson faces Democrat Susan Scarborough-Smith. The opened unexpectedly in September when incumbent Bill Wylie died suddenly. Because there was little time for the Republican primary before the general election, the special election was moved to December 14.