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Barb Nash, left, shows some of her supporters the outlying boundaries of S.C. House District 124, currently held by Republican Shannon Erickson of Beaufort. Nash, a retired nurse practitioner originally from Ohio, wants to improve the quality of and access to health care in the Lowcountry. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

Nash takes on Erickson for second time in bid for House seat

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By Tony Kukulich

Barb Nash, a Democrat running for the 124th District seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives, is facing off against incumbent Shannon Erickson for the second time.

Nash appeared at a campaign event at J. Lee’s Coney Island restaurant in Beaufort on Tuesday night that got off to an admittedly slow start, though she was undeterred in her enthusiasm for the developing campaign and about what she has to offer voters.

“I will listen to the constituents in District 124,” she said. “I do not think they’re being well represented in the State House. I will be their voice. I will listen to their concerns. I’m not there for me. This is bigger than me. I think that the incumbent is too extreme in her view points. We differ on gun safety and school shootings. We differ on women’s reproductive rights. We differ on healthcare.”

Nash took on Erickson in 2020 and garnered 36% of the vote as an unknown political newcomer in an election bid that had her campaigning at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. This time around, prohibitions against face-to-face campaigning are no longer a factor, which Nash believes will make a significant difference in her campaign strategy and effectiveness. Additionally, she enters the race with more campaign experience and improved face and name recognition as a result of the 2020 race. Nash believes the race will be a different one this year.

A native of Ohio, Nash spent her career in healthcare as an advanced practice registered nurse providing primary care in a private practice that she operated for nearly 30 years. During that time she was active in the nurses professional association and gained campaign experience in her successful bid for president of that organization.

“I had the honor of being president of the Ohio Nurses Association with approximately 10,000 members, but I was the voice at the state house for 180,000 nurses in the state,” Nash explained. “In that position I had the opportunity to craft legislation. I had the opportunity to work to get sponsors. I was able to testify in various committees. I was even able to get some pieces of legislation to the governor’s desk to have signed. Most of these were related to healthcare.”

It was also in this capacity that Nash got regular exposure to the political process.

“I’ve always been interested in politics,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in government. I’ve always been interested in what’s happening. But that was my first real, active participation in government.”

Erickson has held the 124th District seat since 2006. Elections for the South Carolina House of Representative are held every two years, and in Erickson’s seven re-election bids she has been unopposed in four campaigns. Nash’s 2020 bid was Erickson’s most serious competition since 2008 when Democrat James Brown picked up 41% of the vote.

With a lifelong commitment to providing healthcare, it’s unsurprising that healthcare is one of the primary issues in Nash’s platform. Unlike her opponent, Nash is a pro-choice candidate.

“I am pro-choice,” Rash said. “My opponent is anti-abortion. I have been in healthcare long enough to know what it was like before Roe v. Wade and cared for women who were dying because they could the could not get a safe, legal abortion. I believe in women’s reproductive rights. We are very different on that.”

With extensive experience in education with roles from guest speaker to full-time visiting professor at various universities, Nash has made education another pillar in her platform.

“I am an advocate for a robust public education system,” Nash said. “If we can give anything to the future of this county, it’s to have highly educated citizens. Public education has never been fully funded in the state of South Carolina. And there is a desire to divert public education money into private and parochial schools. The incumbent does support that. In fact, she kind of leads the band on that.”

One of Nash’s goals is to combine her healthcare and education issues by providing advanced practice nurses in clinics located within the school system in which the clinic could provide quality healthcare to students and the wider community.

“I’d like to make this relationship between healthcare and education to help students and individuals live their best lives,” Nash added. “That’s a goal I’d like to accomplish.”

Nash bemoaned the fact that South Carolina is one of only two states that does not have a hate crimes bill, and hopes to change that if given the opportunity in the House.

For more information on Nash’s candidacy, visit: www.barbnashsc124.com.

Tony Kukulich is a recent transplant to the Lowcountry. A native of Wilmington, Del., he comes to The Island News from the San Francisco Bay Area where he spent seven years as a reporter and photographer for several publications. He can be reached at tony.theislandnews@gmail.com.

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