A political newcomer and West Columbia city councilman are in next Tuesday’s runoff for the S.C. House District 89 seat that stretches across Cayce, Springdale and West Columbia in Lexington County.
Assistant Solicitor Micah Caskey, who placed first in last week’s GOP primary race among four candidates, never has held political office. But Caskey says his business and military experience will help him modernize state government.
Meanwhile, West Columbia Councilman Tem Miles, who came in second in the June 14 primary, said he has led hard political fights before and will again if elected to the State House. As a city councilman, Miles says he worked to make West Columbia government more open.
In Tuesday’s runoff, Miles also is hoping to consolidate the West Columbia vote, split in the GOP primary among three candidates.
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Both are running to succeed state Rep. Kenny Bingham, R-Lexington, who is retiring after eight terms in the House.
The winner of Tuesday’s runoff will face two candidates in the November general election —Democrat Peggy Butler and Constitutional candidate Robert Lampley.
Caskey: Modernize state government
In the GOP primary, Caskey won 1,026 votes, or 35.5 percent of the ballots cast.
The 35 year old grew up in Springdale before going to the University of Florida. After college, he enlisted in the Marine Corps, serving four years and deploying to Iraq twice.
After joining the Reserves, Caskey went to the University of South Carolina, earning law and master’s in international business administration degrees. In the middle of law school, Caskey deployed for a year to Afghanistan.
While in law school, Caskey worked for the S.C. House clerk on procedural issues, and the nuts and bolts of how legislation is passed.
After earning his USC degrees, Caskey worked as a management consultant in northern Alaska.
Caskey said his professional experience allows him to see current challenges and those coming.
For example, Caskey is critical of the Transportation Department restructuring that lawmakers passed earlier this month. That restructuring, which many have criticized for having too many legislative checks on the governor’s authority, does not deliver the accountability that is needed to improve the performance of the state’s roads agency, he said.
Under the new proposal, there are no clear lines of authority, Caskey said.
“That doesn’t work in the military,” he said. “It doesn’t work in state government. If people don’t know who their boss is, you’re never going to get real reform.”
Caskey’s other legislative priorities include advocating for law enforcement and ensuring South Carolina continues to be a magnet for the military.
Miles: Political experience a plus
Miles, 37, won 717 votes in the June 14 primary, or 24.8 percent of the ballots cast.
After graduating from The Citadel, Miles worked for Southeastern Freight Lines for about three years, then went to law school. Today, he works for The McKay Firm.
Miles said the state’s top issue is paying for road repairs. He said the state’s growing revenues should be used to pay for those repairs.
Miles said his top priority is ensuring the state has three separate and distinct branches of government that don’t overlap.
“The Legislature needs to pass good laws, and then we need to allow the governor to administrate them.”
South Carolina also needs an independent judicial system – instead of lawmakers electing judges, as they do now, and then deciding how much money the courts will get, he said.
“Those two ingredients make the system ripe for the possibility of (corruption),” Miles said.
In the runoff, Miles is hopeful he can consolidate the support of West Columbia voters.
Three of the candidates in the June 14 GOP primary — Miles, former Lexington County City Councilmen Bill Banning and attorney Billy Oswald — were from West Columbia. Those candidates split West Columbia’s vote.
Now, however, Miles is hopeful West Columbia voters will united behind his candidacy. Banning publicly has endorsed Miles.
Miles also says his experience on West Columbia City Council experience has prepared him to represent the House district.
On council, Miles was the lightning rod for council disagreements with former West Columbia Mayor Joe Owens. Miles headed a bloc of council members who alleged Owens bent rules to reward friends and intimidate those who questioned him.
That group stopped short of alleging Owens did anything illegal. But, eventually, Owens was stripped of his authority to set the council’s agenda.
The winner of Tuesday’s runoff will go on to face two candidates in the November general election —Democrat Peggy Butler and Constitutional Candidate Robert Lampley.
The two GOP candidates in Tuesday’s GOP runoff for the District 89 S.C. House seat
Education: Bachelor’s degree, the University of Florida; international master’s in business administration and law degree, USC
Job: Assistant 11th Circuit solicitor
Education: Bachelor’s degree, The Citadel; law degree, Western Michigan University Cooley Law School
Family: Married to Cassie Miles, three daughters
Job: Civil defense trial attorney, West Columbia city councilman