Aug. 25–COLUMBIA SC — U.S. Sen. Tim Scott long has been an advocate of opening South Carolina’s coast to offshore oil exploration. But public feedback on the issue has caused the Charleston Republican to change his mind.
And evidently, he is not alone.
While Scott continues to believe in the possibilities of offshore oil exploration in the Palmetto State, he told a recent constituent event in Ridgeway that he knows who he has to stand with.
“My position is as public as it gets on offshore drilling,” Scott said in a video of the Aug. 8 event posted by the environmental group Oceana SC. “Offshore gas is a real possibility.
“(But) I have said and continue to say that as long as the coast of South Carolina is universally solidified in opposition … I will stand with them, although I believe there is some actual benefit to going offshore and seeing what’s possible.
“Fortunately or unfortunately, my constituents disagree with me,” Scott said. “As a public servant, this is not a legal, ethical or moral issue. I have sided with my constituents.”
A majority of S.C. voters — 51 percent — oppose offshore drilling, according to a February poll by Winthrop University. Opposition is even stronger — 54 percent — in the state’s six coastal counties, according to that poll.
Leaders of several coastal communities have come out against any planned drilling along the coast. GOP Gov. Henry McMaster, a Trump ally, also has asked the Trump administration to protect South Carolina’s coast.
Frank Knapp, president of the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce, said Scott should follow up with action.
“He’s said he’s going to stand with his constituents, but what is he going to do about it?” Knapp asked.
Scott spokesman Sean Smith said the Republican senator long has stressed that coastal residents should have “buy-in” before any drilling operations move forward. Smith said the senator had “simply taken a step back” in his advocacy of exploration.
Drilling was a big issue in the Republican congressional primary in South Carolina’s1st District, where drilling opponent Mark Sanford lost to state Rep. Katie Arrington, who hit Sanford for opposing Trump’s agenda.
But while running against Democrat Joe Cunningham in the coastal district in November, Arrington since has said she, too, opposes offshore drilling.
In audio of the Ridgeway event provided by Scott’s office, the senator differentiates his stance from Sanford’s.
“Not because I am where Mark (Sanford) is by the way,” Scott said. “He’s opposed to it. I simply think if you can’t convince constituents it’s in their best interests, it’s wise to take a step back from your own position and follow your constituents.”
SC House candidate on the air
In addition to his job at the S.C. House, state Rep. Chris Wooten is going to host his own radio show.
Columbia talk radio station The Point 100.7 FM/1420 AM said Thursday the Lexington Republican will be hosting a live weekly call-in show starting Wednesday, Sept. 5.
Wooten said he sees the show as part of his effort to be transparent with voters.
“Voters can call in, and we want to have people on from both sides of the aisle,” Wooten said of the hourlong show, scheduled for 9 a.m. “It will give me a chance to talk more and maybe learn more about a particular topic.”
Wooten, who runs a fitness center, never has hosted his own radio show. But, he added, “I’m not someone who’s at a loss for words.”
A first-term representative, Wooten faces a challenge from Democrat Beth Ann Rocheleau and Libertarian David Morris in November.
Rocheleau said Friday she wasn’t concerned about Wooten getting a radio platform two months before the election.
“I’m sure Mr. Wooten will get a lot of attention,” Rocheleau said. “He’s a popular guy. But this is not a popularity contest.”
The Democrat said she would continue to focus on expanding Medicaid, and getting more money for education and public transit in Lexington County. Meanwhile, she said, Wooten “will be preaching mostly to his own choir.”
SC Democrat subject of documentary
Former state Rep. Bakari Sellers is hitting the big screen as the subject of a new documentary.
The film “While I Breathe, I Hope” — the title comes from South Carolina’s state motto — follows Democrat Sellers’ unsuccessful 2014 run for lieutenant governor, his subsequent career as a CNN analyst and the 2015 Charleston church massacre that claimed the life of State House colleague Clementa Pinckney.
“Some of it shows me in all my glory and some of it my despair,” Sellers said in a phone interview with The State.
The film will premiere at the New Orleans Film Festival in October and might be released more widely early next year, Sellers said. Producers are trying to get the film shown in Palmetto State theaters, he said.
Voters decide Tuesday
Voters in Richland and Lexington counties will decide Tuesday on the GOP candidate in a special election for the state Senate’sDistrict 20 seat.
Attorney Benjamin Dunn and children’s home administrator John Holler will face off in the GOP runoff. The winner will face Democrat Dick Harpootlian in November.
On Friday, Dunn picked up the endorsement of Chapin lawyer Christian Stegmaier, who finished third in the Aug. 14GOP primary.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Any registered voter who did not vote in the Democratic primary two weeks ago is eligible to vote Tuesday.
Also coming up this week
— On Monday, U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-Laurens, hosts his annual Faith and Freedom BBQ in Anderson. Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski will speak at the event along with former deputy campaign manager David Bossie. Gov. Henry McMaster and Katie Arrington, the GOP’s nominee in the 1st District U.S. House race, also will attend.
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