REP. TODD Atwater might be a little farther to the right than we’d like on some issues — he notes that “If you’re to the right of me, you’re not stable, and if you’re to the left of me, you’re probably not representative of the district” — but he has a more sophisticated understanding of and desire to correct our state’s biggest governmental flaws than all but a handful of our legislators.
The Lexington Republican recognizes that our Legislature hoards power that should belong to the governor and to local government. He appreciates the inherent conflicts in being a state representative and representing his district, and realizes that the needs of the state must take precedence in most circumstances. He also recognizes the need for much more substantive debate than he has seen in the House; that reflects his profound respect for the necessity of compromise, and his notion that someone has to “put stakes in the ground” in order to allow compromise to occur.
Even where he’s the one planting those stakes, he makes valid points. We’re not convinced, for instance, that our state needs the wholesale assault on government regulations that is one of his priorities, but he’s correct when he argues that some regulations accomplish little more than to protect the business interests of the regulated, and that some regulations are written in a way that makes it too easy for regulators to misuse them.
We are convinced that we need to overhaul our tax code, and that too is a priority for Rep. Atwater, who, again, understands the shortcomings of our current system more than most legislators, and understands that reform means raising some tax rates while lowering others and, especially, eliminating loopholes and exemptions.
His opponent in the House District 87 race, Joan Guy, says that as an older, female single parent, she would bring a working-class perspective to the House, and certainly there’s room for that; but even on those issues where we agree with her, we were concerned that she fails to recognize the implications of her priorities.
Ms. Guy charges that Mr. Atwater has a conflict of interest as the CEO of the S.C. Medical Association, a lobbying group, and the potential certainly is there. But Mr. Atwater notes that his primary job is running the association’s insurance companies, and he has taken what seem to be reasonable steps to mitigate the problem, by turning all lobbying duties over to a vice president who reports not to him but to his board. Moreover, he has demonstrated his independence from the association, most notably through his opposition to accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid; we believe his position is absolutely wrong, but clearly it demonstrates that he’s not carrying water for his employer.
Mr. Atwater is the sort of smart, articulate and savvy representative we need more of in the Legislature, and we believe he should be returned for another term.
In their own words
We asked candidates for the House to complete a questionnaire as part of our endorsement process. Read their answers at thestate.com/1107.