Bluffton GOP holds forum for 1st Congressional District candidates

11 mins read

By MINDY LUCAS

About 30 people attended a forum held for Republican candidates vying for the 1st Congressional District seat currently occupied by Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-Charleston), at Palmetto Electric Cooperative in Hardeeville, on Wednesday, Nov. 6.

Hosted by Rachel Wisnefski, president of the Greater Bluffton Republican Club, the forum included a two-minute introduction before candidates took turns answering questions.

Here in the order of their introduction on Wednesday, those candidates included:

Chris Cox

Founder of Bikers for Trump, Chris Cox said he got the nickname “the Lawnmower Man” after mowing the grass and taking out trash at the Lincoln Memorial during the government shutdown of 2013.

He also said some of those in attendance might not have liked President Trump at first but because of their 401Ks and other promises kept, they’re “on board now.” He said if elected he would leverage relationships he already has in Washington, D.C. including the relationship he has with Trump.

Nancy Mace

Widely known as the first woman to graduate from The Citadel, Nancy Mace said she attended the military college to prove something to herself and to be challenged. The experience, she said,
changed her life and gave her the confidence to start her own business and later run for public office.

Mace has worked in financial services and is a real estate agent who specializes in commercial property. In 2018, she was elected to the S.C. House of Representatives, representing Berkeley and Charleston Counties, and is now in her second term.

 

Brad Mole

The latest contender to throw his hat into the ring, Brad Mole said attending a recent boot camp in Washington D.C., part of Tim Scott’s Empower America Project, renewed his passion for the Republican party and for serving the community.

A self-described community development leader and “preacher’s kid,” Mole has served as vice chairman of the Lowcountry Affordable Housing Coalition. He has also managed two rural, ride-share systems in Allendale and Bamberg and is a former business owner. His wife served in the Navy and the two still have deep ties to the military community, he said.

Kathy Landing

Originally from New Orleans, Kathy Landing said it was her parents, raised during the Great Depression, who instilled in her the values of honesty, integrity, self-reliance, being thrifty and working hard.

Landing decided to start her own investment business over 34 years ago and has worked in financial planning ever since. She was elected to Mount Pleasant’s town council in 2017 and said she hopes to bring her “finance, communications, diplomacy and problem solving” skills to the task.

Mike Covert

Mike Covert started his introduction by saying it wasn’t about him and that he is the only candidate who will say, “I want your vote. I want to serve you.”

An entrepreneur who started his own HVAC business, Covert Aire, Covert is currently a Beaufort County Councilman. When it comes to healthcare, he considers himself a “free market guy.” He wants to limit the federal government’s involvement in business and give the power back to the states. He said he would work to change the tax system to a flat and “fair” tax system, and that when it comes to immigration, there is a process that everyone needs to follow.

Over a nearly two-hour period, the candidates answered about a half dozen questions on such issues as revamping the federal tax code to how to shore up social security.

 

On what specific suggestions candidates have for reducing spending in Washington:

Cox said veterans needed to be taken care of as well as single parents – single fathers as well as single mothers. He also said for the five of them, as candidates, to think they could be elected to the House and reform healthcare or have a program that would reduce the deficit is a “pipe dream.”

“… You’re going to have to make and build relationships before you’re taken seriously enough to do things like that,” he said. “I would like to … use the relationships that I have to take care of things right now.”

Mace said with a $19 trillion debt, we cannot continue spending the way we’re spending now. She said the impeachment inquiry is preventing anything from getting done in Washington, and while people are reluctant to make cuts but that “every single agency” could afford to make cuts. She supports the penny plan, a plan … that supporters say would balance the budget in five years.

“And this is why it’s so important for each and everyone of you who are active, to help us win this seat back, because if we can win the majority back we can get back to doing the business of the Congress.”

Mole said he would look to see what programs are overlapping in services and what programs aren’t working.

“We find out what’s working and what’s not working in our homes, and it’s the same thing in D.C.,” he said.

Landing said in order to cut spending you first had to have a budget. She suggested taking a look at the Simpson-Bowles plan, a bipartisan deficit reduction plan proposed in 2010 and also referred to the U.S. Government and Accountability Office (GAO)’s annual report on reducing redundancy of programs and waste as “low hanging fruit” place to start cutting.

She also suggested shoring up Social Security and working to refinance the interest on the national debt among other financial measures.

Covert said reducing spending is going to take an “incredible approach of a long time” and teamwork as well as looking at the constitution to make sure the federal government is doing what the framers set out for it to do.

“I think we all agree that there are a lot of programs, a lot of departments, a lot of stuff that the federal government shouldn’t be doing,” he said.

On the Second Amendment:

Covert said he looks to what the Constitution says about the Second Amendment. “We have a right to keep and bear arms. That’s it. Period. We have that right,” he said.

He went on to say that Democrats who say the streets are going to be “overrun with AK-47s and howitzers” are using “hyperbole just to get you excited.”

“The AR-15 is not a mass killing machine. I have two,” he said.

Landing said she was “definitely pro-Second Amendment” and has a concealed weapons permit (CWP) and is a member of the National Rifle Association. She said it was important to enforce the laws that are already on the books.

“I have a lot of concern right now about people going overboard to control what is happening because of fear,” she said.

Mole said the country doesn’t need to create new gun laws in order to solve what he believes are social issues that “don’t have anything to do with guns.”

He said he wants to push for legislation that would honor the CWP issued in one state, honored in other states.

Mace said she believes in the Second Amendment “as it is written.” She owns three guns, she said, and said that gun control does not work because “criminals aren’t going to follow the law,” register their guns, or “give back their bullets.”

She is pushing for a single crime database that would share information across all law enforcement agencies on those who have been flagged by a background check.

“This is something I’m working on and it’s going to be part of my message in the general election,” she said. “What will work, what can help prevent crime that does not infringe on somebody’s right to bear arms.”

Cox said he is definitely pro-Second Amendment. “It takes a good guy to take down a bad guy,” he said.

He also said when it came to red flag laws, or laws that authorize courts to issue orders allowing police to temporarily confiscate firearms from people who are deemed to be a danger to themselves or to others, there was no “due process” so he is against those.

South Carolina’s Republican Party Primary is June 9, 2020.

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