Looking at the races
From staff reports
Dr. Annie Andrews, a Democrat and a pediatrician from Charleston running against incumbent U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC Dist. 1), held a press conference Thursday, Oct. 27 at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in Beaufort.
Andrews came to town voicing her concerns about recent negative and personal attacks by Mace. She specifically took the chance to reaffirm her support for lowering the Social Security eligibility age to 55 years old, to work with the current administration to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, and uphold “women’s reproductive health care rights.”
In a race that seemed so quiet for so long, likely because Andrews didn’t face a primary challenge and didn’t have to campaign, this one has gotten louder and uglier as it has gone along.
One candidate holds a press conference or fires off a Tweet. The other accuses the first of lying. Then the candidates switch off.
Joseph Oddo (Alliance) joins Andrews in the quest for Mace’s seat.
Mace, the first female graduate of The Citadel, supports parents’ control over education, vows to stop “lawless mandates,” Critical Race Theory, biological males competing in women’s sports and “radical ideologies” in the classroom. She opposes abortion, vows to secure the Southern border, touts the second amendment and supports Ukraine.
Andrews, a professor of Pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina, supports a woman’s reproductive rights and believes abortion is health care. And she supports stronger gun legislation.
“The way I see it, there are four major issues this election: gun violence prevention, reproductive freedom, upholding our democracy, and climate change,” Andrews told the League of Women Voters. “I would like to see significant change made on all of those issues.”
In a slightly different First District and after the fallout of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, it’s apparent both candidates know this race is tight and up in the air.
State House of Representatives, District 124
In a repeat of two years ago, Democrat Barb Nash is challenging Republican incumbent Shannon Erickson. Erickson handed Nash a nearly 27-point loss last time.
Erickson is entrenched. She is popular in the business community, is extremely active in the community and is accessible to her constituents.
A supporter of public education, she favors allowing public money to be used for scholarships to go to private schools.
And in this year’s big issue, Erickson was a supporter of the state’s 6-week abortion ban, though she is not in favor of a ban unless it includes certain exclusions in the case of rape, incest, a fatal fetal condition or the life of the mother is in jeopardy.
Nash, a career nurse, is in favor of complete legal access to abortion.
“Women should have the right to body autonomy and to make their own reproductive decisions. Abortion is healthcare,” Nash told the League of Women Voters. “Women must have legal access to safe professional abortions without restrictions. Banning abortions will not stop abortions, it will just mean more women will die.”
She also supports Medicaid expansion, stricter gun legislation and fully funding public schools.
In those schools, Nash is opposed to restricting curriculum so that it would “whitewash” American history. Teachers should be free to teach, Nash said, and students should learn critical thinking.
State House of Representatives, District 121
Incumbent Democrat Michael Rivers Sr. is again facing Republican challenger Eric Erickson. Rivers defeated Erickson by nearly 27 points two years ago.
Rivers is seeking his fourth term in the S.C. House. He is a member of the House Legislative Oversight Committee, as well as the Education and Public Works Commitee.
Erickson is the principal attorney at Beaufort’s Erickson Law Firm. He is a former special prosecutor for the S.C. Attorney General’s office and a public defender.
Erickson lists his top three priorities as teacher retention, funding mental health care and deciding best how to allocate the 4.6 billion dollar budget surplus. Erickson believes “a women has a right to make personal healthcare decisions with her doctor.”
Incumbent Tim Scott (R) will face State Representative Krystle Matthews in the race for Senator.
Scott’s statements sound familiar. He spends most of his time firing criticism at the Democrats, and of the Biden administration in particular, on matters including inflation, the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and crime.
At a recent rally in Bluffton, Scott did not take the opportunity to discuss his record and referenced his political platform in only the most broad terms. Reporters were given five minutes with Scott after his speech. He also indicated that abortion was not a key issue for voters in this election cycle.
Matthews wants to protect voting rights, rein in student debt, promote affordable housing and promote criminal justice reform. She is in favor of eliminating the filibuster.
“It has been used to block meaningful legislation that would help marginalized communities for too long,” Matthews said. “Adequate debate is necessary the filibuster is not meaningful debate, its stalling due process.”
Matthews believes the best way to restore confidence in our voting system is by setting a national standard and without guaranteed access to a good education, there’s no such thing as equal opportunity.
Matthews’ campaign hit a serious bump in September. As reported in the Post and Courier, key Democrats in the state called for Matthews to drop out of the race after she was recorded making disparaging remarks about white people.
Incumbent Governor Henry McMaster will face Democrat Joe Cunningham, as well as candidates from the Independence, Libertarian and Labor parties.
McMaster is seeking his second term as governor. He is pro-business and touts success in “keeping the state open” during the COVID pandemic, as well as successfully fighting overreach by the federal government during the Biden administration. A folksy speaker, McMaster spent two terms as the state’s Attorney General.
McMaster holds a huge cash advantage over his challenger.
Cunningham earned a reputation as a bipartisan representative during his term in the U.S. House. He wants to improve S.C. education, improve workforce development and jobs, and improve the state’s infrastructure.
He is firmly in support of expanding Medicaid, and has said he would expand it on his first day in office.
“Increasing access to healthcare, especially in rural and economically-challenged areas of the state, should never be controversial because healthcare is a basic need and we should do everything in our power to maximize access to it,” Cunningham said. “Also, because Medicaid eligibility determines eligibility for other assistance programs, expanding Medicaid has implications beyond just health care–it will lead to improved outcomes in everything from early childhood education to employment rates and maintaining a competitive job market.”
Cunningham also supports stricter gun laws and would like to put an end to gerrymandering.
Secretary of State
Incumbent Republican Mark Hammond is facing Democrat Rosemounda Peggy Butler.
First elected in 2002, Hammond is running for his sixth term as Secretary of State. Hammond touts his office’s “24-7” filing services and the state’s business-friendly approach during the pandemic. He vows to continue to stress improvements in technology for S.C. businesses. He is “dedicated to working to keep South Carolina business friendly.”
Butler is a small business owner and a retired Army combat nurse. She wants to create a task force to assist small businesses in securing government and public funding.
“I want to ensure that small owners get the resources needed to create thriving businesses and more jobs in S.C.,” Butler said.
State Superintendent of Education
Republican Ellen Weaver, Democrat Lisa Ellis and Patricia Mickel (Green) will face off in the general election for the spot currently owned by Superintendent Molly Spearman, who chose not to run for re-election.
Weaver has courted controversy by not having the Masters degree required by law to hold the elected position until October, and only earning it through a questionably brief program through Bob Jones University.
A former assistant to Sen. Jim DeMint, Weaver is the chairman of the S.C Education Oversight Committee and a board member for the S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. She has no classroom experience.
Weaver’s three key issues are basic skills for students, trust though transparency and empowering and elevating teachers.
A career educator, Ellis’s goals are to recruit and retain high quality teachers, reduce inefficiencies and inequities in the public school system, and promote changes in school funding that ensure more funding gets into the classroom, where it can make the biggest impact on students.
“I am running for superintendent of education because South Carolina’s public education system is in crisis,” Ellis told the League of Women Voters. “We are losing teachers because of poor policy, and we need to change course immediately. All children deserve a high quality education, and without strong teachers, they don’t receive that. I believe I have the experience, knowledge, and context to improve the system.”
Commissioner of Agriculture
Longtime incumbent Hugh Weathers will face challengers David Edmund (Green) and Chris Nelums (United Citizens) for the Commissioner of Agriculture seat.
Weathers, commissioner for 17 years, stresses the importance of local food sources and less dependence on imports, creating opportunity for South Carolina’s farmers and providing for improved food safety.
Early voting continues through Saturday, Nov. 5. Voting runs from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
There are four early voting centers in Beaufort County:
• Beaufort – 15 John Galt Rd, Beaufort, SC 29906
• Bluffton – 61B Ulmer Rd, Bluffton, SC 29910
• Hilton Head Government Complex – 539 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, S.C. 29928.
• St. Helena Branch Library – 6355 Jonathan Francis Senior Rd., St. Helena Island, S.C. 29920.
A reminder that voters will be asked for a photo ID when checking in to vote.