With the general election drawing near, the race for South Carolina’s 7th Congressional District is heating up.
Tom Rice, the Republican incumbent from Myrtle Beach, is seeking re-election for a third term. His challenger Mal Hyman, a professor at Coker College in Hartsville, is running under the Democratic, Green and Working Families Party.
Rice says that during a period of gridlock in Washington he’s been able to facilitate help in this district from the Peed Dee to the coast.
Hyman says this district needs a representative who is free of donor control and a champion for the working-class people of South Carolina.
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South Carolina’s 7th Congressional District covers the counties of Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Georgetown, Horry, Marlboro and Marion and parts of Florence and Lee counties.
Rice serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, the first South Carolinian to do so in about three decades.
During his time in Washington, Rice has co-sponsored several pieces of legislation, including the Safe Schools Act of 2013 and a bill to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – commonly referred to as Obamacare.
Hyman has more than 40 years of teaching and humanitarian aid experience. He says he was compelled to run for Congress after observing gridlock take hold and nothing get done.
He’s an advocate of better living wages for working families and better laws to adapt to climate change. He said citizens are called by the Creator, the Constitution and common sense to protect the environment.
Both candidates said they would support a VA facility in Florence because of its ideal location near two major interstates. Where they differ is the future of the VA itself.
Rice said he’s long been an advocate of veterans having the option to have insurance policies separate from the VA – which could mean doing away with the VA altogether.
“What we have now just isn’t working,” he said. “We’ve got veterans across the nation dying while they wait on care, even in areas that have a veterans hospital. Too many people die in this district because they can’t get in for treatment.”
He said the VA does well certain mental illness treatments but the system is fundamentally broken.
“I really want our veterans to have the option of private care,” Rice said. “Instead they’re dying while waiting on government bureaucracy in a system that doesn’t run as efficiently as private care. We’re making big steps toward that but the VA is making that hard. Veterans need a choice.”
Hyman said the VA is a prime example of government taking money and not using it as intended.
“Waste and fraud, across the board, need to be drained from our government so we can provide necessary services,” he said. “People risk their lives to defend the American dream and they deserve to be able to live that dream.”
He said a bureaucratic system as large as the VA won’t be a simple fix but the key is admitting there is a major problem.
“It’s not serving the needs of veterans the way it needs to and I would strongly favor a veterans center in Florence,” he said.
“The choice here is very clear cut,” Rice said. “There’s a choice between my opponent who wants bigger government, more regulations and more taxes, or a candidate who wants less of those things, more freedom and prosperity. I’ve been in Congress for three-and-a-half years … I’m very proud of what I’ve gotten done for our district. We’ve got help for our beach fronts, a permit filed for Interstate 73, other permits released that had been held up for years, grants for railroads from Horry to Marion, helped facilitate the Dillon Inland Port, I’ve gotten grants for water and sewer infrastructure throughout the district – including help for Florence in acquiring the Timmonsville system when it was failing -- and I’ve gotten help for the Georgetown Port. I’m extremely proud pf what we’ve accomplished during a time when major national initiatives aren’t coming out of Washington because of a divided Congress.”
“Having been a teacher for over 40 years in public schools, in a state prison and a college, with human rights work in eight different countries, I’ve seen things like the deterioration of inner cities up close,” Hyman said. “I can bring solutions to these problem to Congress. I’ve seen the problems with foreign policy while being in foreign refugee camps in the Middle East. I can bring a set of sensitivities to problems that the public is facing to the attention of Congress without taking any corporate or banking money. I’m free to represent the whole district. It’s a campaign of common sense for the common good and I think people are ready for that.”