Mulvaney, Person debate in York just days before 5th Congressional District election

Fran Person, left, and U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney
Fran Person, left, and U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney

In a last-minute effort to win over York County voters, Republican U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney and Democratic challenger Fran Person met Wednesday night in a public forum at York Middle School.

The candidates for South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District seat went head-to-head on issues such as gun control, the local economy and health care.

The 5th District covers York, Chester and Lancaster counties, as well as Fairfield, Kershaw, Lee, Newberry, Spartanburg, Sumter and Union counties.

Mulvaney, the Indian Land incumbent, is defending the congressional seat he won in 2010 against longtime Democrat John Spratt. Mulvaney was re-elected easily in 2012 and 2014.

Person, of Tega Cay, is running in his first political campaign. For eight years he was an aide to Vice President Joe Biden.

Mulvaney had some strong words about presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

“We have perhaps two of the most flawed human beings running for president in the history of the country,” Mulvaney said. “Yes, I am supporting Donald Trump, but I’m doing so despite the fact that I think he’s a terrible human being.”

Person went on to declare support for Clinton.

“Hillary Clinton is by far the most qualified and most fit person to be president of the United States,” Person said.

The crowd of about 80 responded with laughter.

The discussion on health care reform dominated the forum.

Person said Mulvaney “has been there for six years and nothing has happened, and he got elected on that single issue. We can’t afford to keep on the way we’re going (with the Affordable Health Care Act). It has to be fixed,” Person said.

“I cringe when I hear my colleagues in Washington say, ‘What we really need is to just fix it,’” Mulvaney responded. “Interesting that now they’re interested in bipartisainship when they jammed it down our throats when they passed it.”

Mulvaney endorsed his party’s health care reform plan, called “A Better Way.”

When voters go to the polls on Tuesday, they’ll see on the ballot for the 5th Congressional District the names of Mulvaney, Person and American Party candidate Rudy Barnes Jr., a former Columbia City Council member.

Earlier in the forum, Mark Palmer and Mike Fanning – running for S.C. Senate District 17 – were scheduled to debate. But Palmer answered debate questions alone, after Fanning unexpectedly did not show up. Forum organizers said Fanning’s mother was ill.