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Archie Parnell should be in Congress

Congress today is hyper-partisan, divisive, shallow, parochial, corrupted by money, driven by special interests, dominated by career politicians, poisoned by personal attacks, disrespectful of voters, focused on the short term and rigidly ideological.

Archie Parnell should be in Congress because he is none of these things.

Most people in South Carolina had never heard of Archie Parnell before he decided to run in the June 20 special election in the 5th Congressional District.

Archie is a South Carolina boy who grew up here, went away, made good and came home to do something to help his neighbors. It’s really that simple.

Archie graduated from Sumter High School and went on to USC. He became a tax attorney, worked in the U.S. Justice Department and the House Ways and Means Committee, back when Congress was a civil place where people of different parties actually got along.

Archie went on to have an impressive business career in the U.S. and abroad with some of the largest companies in the world.

If you read the issues section of his website (ArchieParnell.com), you’ll find that he’s a basic, common-sense Democrat who supports reasonable polices that will make a real difference in the lives of the people he wants to represent.

For years, the 5th Congressional District was represented by John Spratt. Like Archie, Spratt was a whip-smart Democratic attorney and businessman who was driven by a commitment to the people of the district and not to Washington ideologues.

Spratt represented the district from 1982-2010. Since then it has been represented by Republican Mick Mulvaney, but a good number of Democrats are still getting elected to local offices. The seat became open when Mulvaney was appointed head of the Office of Management and Budget by President Trump.

After a hard-fought Republican primary, the winning candidate was former state Rep. Ralph Norman. He defeated state Sen. Tommy Pope, whom the State newspaper described as the centrist candidate.

Best I know, I have never met Ralph Norman. I’m sure that he is a nice guy, goes to church on Sunday, loves his family and grandchildren (all 15 of them) and cares about his country. That said, his website (electralphnorman.com) and a little research show he is a very different candidate than Archie.

Though they have both been successful business people, Norman has been around politics for a while, serving in the S.C. House from 2005-06 and again since 2009. During that time, he has taken some positions that are clearly out of the political mainstream.

According to research, he has voted against relief aid to farmers who had major crop damage during the floods of 2015 and an infrastructure bill that would improve roads and transportation.

As the State said, “Norman’s win leaves Democrats a little more hopeful they can flip the district. Norman, who resigned from his state House seat to run for Congress this year, has voted against a significant, bipartisan majority on several bills including one that would allow police officers to be eligible for workers compensation if they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. … Norman also heavily embraced President Donald Trump.”

Ted Cruz, arguably the most divisive, ideological and disliked member of the U.S. Senate, came to campaign for Norman. Cruz’s slash and burn, take no prisoners style of politics is not likely to sell well with the voters of the 5th Congressional District.

When Cruz ran for president, he got only 22 percent of the vote statewide and did not carry a single county in the district — and that was with only Republican voters.

I would frame the choice this way: Do we really need more of the same style of politics? Or would we be better off with a moderate, smart, committed candidate who supports the kind of bread and butter issues that most people care about?

We will find out June 20.

I have faith that the people of the 5th Congressional District will make the right choice: Archie Parnell.

Phil Noble has a technology firm in Charleston and writes a weekly column for the S.C. Press Association. Contact him at phil@philnoble.com.

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