Wednesday, June 4, 2014
As Rep. Chris Murphy’s term in the state House expires, he and Dorchester County Councilman Larry Hargett are both vying for the Republican nomination.
House District 98 surrounds Dorchester Road, roughly from its intersection with Hwy 17A to the intersection with Ashley Phosphate Road. The seat is subject to a two-year term.
Rep. Murphy, the incumbent, is a lawyer. He served on Dorchester County Council from 2002 – 2010, and first joined the House of Representatives in 2011.
Murphy has cited his performance as the incumbent strongly throughout his campaign.
He’s noted his participation on the judiciary committee, and has addressed the main issues of growth and road infrastructure heavily.
Murphy has spoken about implementing a fuel tax, with a later tax credit for state residents, as a way to facilitate infrastructure and growth.
“It has to be a fuel tax, not a gas tax, because a gas tax does not capture diesel. Fifty percent of the wear and tear on our roads is due to heavy trucks…. There has to be a way to be revenue neutral for the state of South Carolina.”
Councilman Hargett has said he agrees with the idea of the implementation of a gas tax, but only if the citizens vote for it.
“I don’t like the state involved at all. It ought to be here, our local folks. I like the local option tax for gasoline but the people need to make that decision, not the state of South Carolina,” he said.
Hargett, a retiree, has served on Dorchester County Council for ten years and has been a high-ranking member of several area inter-governmental groups such as the Berkeley Charleston Dorchester Council of Governments.
He has cited ethics and the Local Government Fund as two of his main issues throughout his campaign.
Regarding ethics, Hargett said there’s “only one answer: put it on the State Ethics Commission. The House has its own ethics group that judges themselves, and so does the Senate. I’ve worked with them before and the state ethics board does a great job.”
He’s also made the Local Government Fund a cornerstone of his campaign.
By law, the legislature is required to provide local governments with a specific amount of money each budget year, based on the state’s previous year’s budget, also known as the Local Government Fund. For the past several years, the legislature has voted to override the law and underfund the LGF.
Hargett said he’s seen the effects of underfunding the LGF first hand during his time on County Council and if elected would work to restore full funding.
Murphy and Hargett competed for the House District 98 party nomination once before, in 2010. Murphy defeated Hargett in the primary, 52 percent to 48 percent, and Democrat Christine Jackson in the general election. In 2012, Murphy ran for the seat unopposed.
Democrat Rebekah Patrick will appear opposite the Republican nominee on the general election ballot; she is unopposed in the primary.