Open Primary – State Senate

Open Primary – State Senate

I hope that the readers of The Edgefield Advertiser are enjoying the political columns on this page and are thinking about the issues that Scott Cooper and I have been bringing up. Our perspectives are different, which is why the Editor has invited us both to write. One issue we have both written about is the need for all of us to become better informed about issues of our day and to vote.

The next opportunity for Edgefield County to vote is in the Republican Primary on Tuesday, June 14th. Since there is no Democratic Primary this time around (other than for the Presidential Primary a couple of months ago, all of the Democratic Party’s candidates are running without party opposition in Edgefield County), the Republican Primary is the only ballot available for this election. And since South Carolina has open primaries, all registered voters are allowed to participate on June 14th, regardless of whether they consider themselves Republicans, Independents, or Democrats.

There are only two contested positions on the June 14th Primary ballot: Solicitor and State Senator. The one that has rightfully received the most attention is for State Senator. Shane Massey, the incumbent, has recently been selected as Majority Leader of the Senate, a position of substantial influence in the state legislature. Mr. Massey is well known from his many constituent meetings, a practice I truly admire. His message that he will “shake up Columbia” is clearly as an insider. John Pettigrew, the challenger, is a man well known in Edgefield County, having served as County Administrator, on the Edgefield County Hospital Board, and as Edgefield’s Mayor. He also served one term in the state legislature before Mr. Massey was even old enough to vote; not having been involved in state politics since then, Mr. Pettigrew is now running for State Senator with the perspective of an outsider.

Since there are no other State Senate candidates who will be on the ballot in November, this June 14th Primary will be the only opportunity for voters to express their preference. How will you decide for whom to vote?

The print edition of this OpEd discussed a “Town Hall” type meeting that had been scheduled for Saturday, June 4th; unfortunately, the sponsoring Edgefield Republican Party announced on Tuesday that this meeting had been cancelled. I am hoping that there will still be an opportunity before the June 14th Primary not only to listen to the two candidates but also to ask questions about what we can expect from them, what each would do differently from the other candidate. There are many issues of importance to all of us that will be decided over the next two years in the state Senate, and I am sure that many of us have questions about how they are to be decided. Roads and infrastructure (our state government has really let us down on this one), funding for public education (including publicly funded vouchers for private education), and the role of government in public health care (“Heal the Sick”), public assistance (“Feed the Poor”), and immigration / refugee services (“Welcome the Stranger”) top my personal list. How would Mr. Massey approach these issues this next term, and what would Mr. Pettigrew do differently from Mr. Massey if he were elected?

Watch this newspaper’s website and other local media to see if there will be a rescheduled “Town Hall” for our state Senate seat. If so, I encourage all interested voters to attend, to listen, and to ask questions. And regardless of your party preference, don’t forget to vote on June 14th!

Robert Scott