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Editorial: The 7th District’s first primary

It is not hyperbole to call Tuesday’s vote in the 7th Congressional District a historic moment. Voters start with a clean slate in a new district. Next week’s party primaries are open to all registered voters, and they should look at the field, make a choice and head to the polls. Based on the candidate forums held in county we recommend taking a closer look at two candidates.

In the Republican Party primary, one candidate stood out most notably at the forum held at Waccamaw High. The nine candidates were asked about dredging at the Port of Georgetown. All agreed the port is important to the local economy and to the economy of the 7th District. Then they had a chance to show how important. If you could cast the deciding vote for dredging, but you knew it would add to the federal deficit, how would you vote? There were eight nays and one aye. The yes vote was cast by Tom Rice, the Horry County Council chairman. It was a great sound bite for his opponents. But it was the right answer.

Candidates were next asked to name their No. 1 priority. Mr. Rice cited cutting the federal deficit. Isn’t that just like a politician? Not really.

Mr. Rice deserves credit on two points. First for having the courage to answer a question honestly even when it put him on the spot. Second for explaining that investing in infrastructure such as the Port of Georgetown is the way to increase business and bring down the deficit by bringing in more tax revenue. For the party that believes in the power of the marketplace, it’s important to have leaders who recognize the difference between spending and investing (and between investing and gambling).

Another statement also stood out. Whoever represents the 7th District in Congress can’t just sit there with his arms crossed and say “No,” Mr. Rice told voters. Too many candidates are prone to say what they won’t do and we are left with representatives who are either red in the face or blue in the face.

Democrats have a tougher choice: pragmatism or principle? The Republican legislature drew the district lines, and it ought to be a safe seat. If a Democrat wins the district, it won’t be because President Obama shows up for a campaign rally.

That’s why Parnell Diggs stood out at this week’s candidate forum in Georgetown. He said he’s running because he wants to help the president. Like the late Sen. Paul Wellstone he represents “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”

Mr. Diggs is among the underdogs in both primary fields, but he showed he has a solid grasp of the issues. His policy stands are solidly Democratic. (Port funding? Earmarks.) However, he also says there is a need to work with Republicans. (“I have a passion for compromise.”)

While Mr. Diggs does his best to stand out in the field of four candidates, he notes that he has spent his life trying to fit in. He was born blind. He says his life represents what Democrats believe in – the opportunity to be treated like anyone else. That’s something that should appeal to voters of any party.

That’s our opinion. To share your opinion in a letter, click here.

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