FORT MILL -- Kyle Boyd, the Christian school leader running to be a "true conservative light" in the state House, says he misspoke Thursday during a candidates forum when he said he supports granting citizenship to illegal immigrants.
Boyd made the comment Thursday night at a town hall debate hosted by the Young Republicans in Fort Mill's Baxter Village. That stance would have put Boyd at odds with a cavalcade of conservatives who strongly oppose steps to legalize the country's estimated 12 million undocumented workers.
But shortly after the event, at the urging of a campaign adviser, Boyd contacted The Herald to clarify his position and explain that he misspoke.
"I got lit up in that moment talking about citizenship," Boyd said. "I don't mean citizenship. I don't think there's any way you can give full citizenship to illegals. Legal status is what I meant. That would be ridiculous to give them the same rights that everyone else has, and then reward them for breaking the law."
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Boyd, 33, a Regent Park resident and headmaster of Walnut Grove Christian School in south Charlotte, is challenging incumbent Carl Gullick in the GOP primary on June 10.
The remark surprised Fort Mill Republican Christian Hine, who was among 60 people in the audience.
"I think Kyle's a nice guy," Hine said. "When you start talking about an issue and it sounds like you're maybe contradicting yourself, or you just don't know the answer, it might be better to stop talking before it comes back to bite you."
Support for Sanford
Among Boyd's platforms is that Gov. Mark Sanford needs more help to advance his reform agenda.
"He's not being supported like he should," Boyd said Thursday night. "I'm a true conservative Republican."
Boyd hasn't voted in an election since 2004, county and state records show. Sanford has appeared on two ballots in that time, a Republican primary and general election in 2006. Sanford won both contests.
Asked Friday about his absences, Boyd said: "That's a good question. I wasn't able to get away from school, that's all."
A short time later, Boyd re-contacted The Herald to say his recollection had changed and that he did vote in 2006. He declined to elaborate.
Gullick has voted in each state and federal election over the past four years, records show. Gullick did not attend Thursday night's event because he says he wasn't given a clear description of the format.
The two candidates will meet at noon Friday in River Hills for a forum hosted by the Clover-Lake Wylie Republican Women. No Democrat entered the race for District 48, which covers much of northern York County.
In the past, Gullick has drawn criticism from his own party for supporting tax increases while on the York County Council and not doing enough to reign in spending as a legislator. He was among about 100 legislators given a rating of "F" from the conservative group S.C. Club for Growth. The lowest grade was "F-."
Gullick's predecessor in District 48, Ralph Norman, received the Club for Growth's highest rating in 2005.
Earlier this year, Gullick's name showed up on a so-called "hit list" of moderate legislators being targeted by conservative groups with ties to Sanford. The governor denies knowing of any plan to single out specific Republicans.