A second candidate is jumping into the race to succeed Deborah Long in S.C. House District 45.
Tyler Mitchell, a Lancaster native and graduate of The Citadel, announced he would run as a Democrat for the seat that covers much of Indian Land and parts of Fort Mill.
Mitchell is seeking his first elected office. He previously worked for U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., who represented North Carolina in Washington from 2008 to 2014.
“I grew up here and want nothing more than to see this place strive, so I’m going to work tirelessly to earn the vote of every person in our district and to make our state a better place in which to live, work and call home,” Mitchell said in a news release announcing his campaign.
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Mitchell says he wants to focus on education, health care and veterans’ issues.
His entry into the race sets up an interesting generational clash with Brandon Newton, the chairman of the Lancaster County GOP who previously announced his plans to replace Long as a Republican S.C. House member.
Mitchell, a 23-year-old law student who commutes to Chapel Hill during the week, is challenging the 21-year-old Newton, who is finishing his undergraduate degree at USC Lancaster.
“It’s kind of a weird race where the 23-year-old is the older one, and arguably the one with more government experience,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell points out that during his time in Hagan’s office, he worked with the Senate health, education, labor and pensions committee, and as a Citadel cadet spent time in London working as a parliamentary fellow in the British Parliament, serving as a de facto legislative director for two MPs.
Newton said he welcomed another candidate entering the race, especially someone in the same age group as himself.
“I think it says a lot about our generation, that we want to lead,” Newton said.
That said, “I don’t think the experience of working for a liberal Democrat like Kay Hagan is what the voters of District 45 are looking for,” Newton said. “It’s a conservative district, and I plan to run a conservative, principled campaign focused on low spending and low taxes, and we’ll see what the people of District 45 think.”
Mitchell grew up in Indian Land and graduated from Indian Land High School. His mother was a teacher in the Lancaster County school district. Mitchell says he spent his childhood “on either side of the economic spectrum” – when the recession hit in 2008, his family lost its home. For a while, he was living with other Indian Land teachers.
“That’s why education is such an important issue for me,” he said.
Long announced last December she would not be seeking a fifth House term in Columbia. The Indian Land optometrist has held the seat since then-state Rep. Mick Mulvaney ran for the S.C. Senate’s District 16 seat in 2008.
Voters in both parties will choose their candidates for the state House in a June 14 primary, although neither Newton nor Mitchell has primary opposition at this point.