Democratic House candidate ‘disappointed’ in Harpootlian’s comments

abeam@thestate.comOctober 2, 2012 

Democratic state House candidate Beth Bernstein said she is “extremely disappointed” in state party chairman Dick Harpootlian for criticizing Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott’s endorsement of a Republican in a state Senate race.

“Like Sheriff Lott, I have an independent streak that (toes) no party lines,” Bernstein said in a news release. “ If elected, I will do what is best for the people of Richland County and not one political party."

Lott, Richland County’s sheriff for 16 years, is popular and a sought-after endorsement in local political races. Bernstein, who is trying to unseat Republican state Rep. Joan Brady in House district 78, planned to announce Lott’s endorsement of her candidacy later this week.

But Monday, Republican state Sen. John Courson unveiled his Lott endorsement -- two months after Courson had appointed Lott to a $12,000-a-year post to the state’s retirement board. Harpootlian, the state’s Democratic Party chairman, said that was no coincidence, saying in a news release that “Voters in John Courson’s district see the pattern of Courson using taxpayers funds for his own benefit.”

“I hope that she got a discount from Sheriff Lott for his endorsement,” Harpootlian said. “I mean, $24,000 seems a bit expensive for a House race.”

Tuesday, Bernstein said she was “proud that Sheriff Leon Lott has endorsed my candidacy.”

Reach Beam at (803) 386-7038.

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