Herb Crump kicked off his campaign for the state House on Saturday in a way that only Herb Crump could, promising to take back the "political country club" from legislators too cozy in their jobs.
Crump spoke outside the York County Democratic Party headquarters, where the podium faced King Funeral Home next door. The pastor of Freedom Temple Ministries made sure the symbolism wasn't lost.
"The direction we go will determine our destiny and future," Crump said. "If we go in the wrong direction, we end up in nothing more than a dead place. I'm glad this morning that you have your backs to death."
Crump faces incumbent Republican Gary Simrill, who has represented District 46 since 1992. The district includes much of Rock Hill, but also western stretches such as Newport that tend to lean conservative.
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Explosive growth has brought in a wave of suburban-minded newcomers, not to mention a new Super Wal-Mart. With U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois headlining the ticket this fall, Democrats feel energized by their prospects.
But Simrill believes his 16-year record is in line with what constituents want. "There are a lot of Republicans who are Republicans for convenience sake, not for conviction's sake," he said. "We hear these big words about change. Government changes, but my views are consistently conservative."
Crump spotlighted Simrill's opposition to raising the cigarette tax to pay for health care, and also criticized his support for Act 388, a property tax change cited for hampering fast-growing school districts.
Simrill says Act 388 brought important tax relief, though it left room for tweaking. "One of the most onerous burdens I was hearing is that property taxes were too high," he said. "My educational record, I'll put it up for show any time."
Both candidates have said they are willing to take part in debates prior to the Nov. 4 election.