When state Rep. Gary Simrill knocks on doors in District 46, he says the people who answer are often friends and acquaintances who have supported him for nearly two decades.
When Democratic challenger Herb Crump makes his own door-to-door visits, he says many people don't know who Simrill is, much less what he's done for them as a legislator.
Maybe the two candidates are just campaigning in different neighborhoods. Whatever the case, the contrast illuminates a central conflict in the race for District 46.
Simrill points to a loyal base of supporters who appreciate his constituent service and reliably conservative voting record over the past 16 years.
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In Crump's view, too much time in Columbia has left Simrill out of touch with the changing needs of District 46 and the many newcomers making it one of the state's fastest-growing areas.
The seat represents more than 22,000 residents in much of Rock Hill and western reaches such as Newport.
"Gary's a good guy," Crump said. "I just think he's been there too long and it's affected his judgment. Any time you can vote for Act 388 knowing it's going to take money from the school district you represent, that's bad judgment."
Simrill has faced criticism over his support for Act 388, which replaced property taxes with a penny sales tax as a way to pay for school operations.
Critics believe the bill mostly helped the owners of luxury homes around Charleston while punishing fast-growing school districts. It forced them to rely on a less reliable revenue source at a time when needs are growing.
"In any issue, there's always a naysayer," Simrill said. "There may be more than one. The hue and cry I have heard from folks in my district is that property taxes were too high and rising too quickly. Act 388 addressed that concern."
Ironically, the candidates share similar views on how Act 388 should be altered. But Simrill could have foreseen the problems if he sought a broader range of opinion beyond his conservative allies, his opponent argues.
"There's no communication," Crump said. "People don't know what's going on."
In taking on a well-established incumbent, Crump finds himself in a familiar role. He challenged Kevin Sutton for a seat on the Rock Hill City Council in 1999. Six years later, Crump ran for mayor against incumbent Doug Echols.
The contest with Simrill poses another difficult test because District 46 has long been considered safe for Republicans. Attorney Dan Ballou learned why in 2002, when his well-funded candidacy fell short by 28 percentage points.
Crump voices cautious optimism about his chances on Election Day but says he'll keep speaking out no matter what happens. "We're hoping for the best," he said.
Meet the District 46 candidates
• Party: 42; Republican
• Age: 42; born May 29, 1966
• Education: Degree in business and marketing from Winthrop University
• Career: Owner, Carolina Motorworks car dealership
• Family: Wife, Mary Ruth; three children, Mallory, Sarah Kate and Dozier
• Political experience: Elected to state House in 1992
• Party: Democrat
• Age: 38; born Jan. 31, 1970
• Education: General Equivalency Diploma, Glenmont Job Corps, Albany, N.Y.
• Career: Pastor, Freedom Temple Ministries in downtown Rock Hill
• Family: Wife, Dawn; son, Joshua, daughter, Jenesis
• Political experience: Ran for Rock Hill City Council in Ward 3 against Kevin Sutton in 1999. Ran for mayor in 2005.